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June 2012

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Anemone, trillium, erythronium and narcissus

Gardening weather on the east coast was very benign and favourable over the winter period and coming into spring. Woodland displays of snowdrops, aconites, scillas and crocus were wonderful with hellebores being particularly outstanding. The latter were in full bloom from late January. Winter Cyclamen coum is planted in company with Anemone blanda, and proves an excellent combination in these beds.   

The second and main display of the woodlands had Anemone apennina in blue and white shades, contrasting well with the darker blue carpeting navelwort, Omphalodes cappadocica. Pale yellow and white daffodils are interspersed throughout to further enliven the scheme and include Narcissus pseudonarcissus, one of the best for dappled shade, and ‘Jenny'. Cyclamen repandum with its lovely fragrant magenta flowers grows and flowers happily in the more shaded area, along with the anemones. Succession is provided by other anemones, such as Anemone nemorosa ‘Lucys Wood' and yellow-flowered Anemone ranunculoides.

I have built up a sizable collection of erythroniums and trilliums which thrive in the dappled shady woodland conditions. Some flowered for the first time from seedlings. It takes from seven years after germination to flower - but it is worth the wait, particularly for the offspring of selected parents of Trillium chloropetalum in maroon and dark-coloured shades. To achieve the best results, these are planted in specially prepared ground with lots of leaf mould and well-rotted farmyard manure.

In my heavier soil, I make sure to plant these fairly shallowly with their shoots just above ground level. Deeper planting, which is satisfactory in lighter soils, can result in plant loses, and has done in my garden, occasionally under prolonged wet conditions. Trilliums need moisture, but definitely need good drainage as well. In contrast, I plant most of the erythronium species and hybrids deeply with lots of organic matter and good preparation is well rewarded. Good robust species include Erythronium revolutum as several forms in pink and creamy white, E. oregonum, E. hendersonii and E. tuolumnense and hybrids ‘White Beauty', ‘Sundisc' and ‘Joanna'. These woodland plants have a special grace and charm.

I have a special raised island bed with dwarf choice woodland plants. One of the outstanding plants here is Narcissus ‘Fairy Gold', given to me by its breeder the late Dr Keith Lamb. About 15 to 20cm high, it flowers for ages in shade, but must have light loamy free-draining soil. It is hardy and very reliable for early flowering in March and April. This is combined with Pulmonaria ‘Blue Ensign' and dwarf trillium species: Trillium rivale, T. nivale, T. ovatum and T. erectum.

Also in this blue, yellow and white bed is a lovely selected form of Anemone blanda, which is white with blue on its reverse petals, and the rare Narcinus moschatus and N. pallidiflorus white and pale yellow and both relatively dwarf also. Anemonella and Fritillaria meleagris thrive here also and grow well in half-shade in the moister periphery of this bed. Trillium grandiflorum now will extend the flowering season to early summer when foliage plants, such as Hosta ‘Halcyon' and Japanese painted fern, will provide interest for the rest of the growing season.




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