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March 2012

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Moving daffodils, flowering dates, Viburnum prunifolium and Sorbus alnifolia

We moved a lot of daffodils last year and find it very hard to throw away bulbs. We know we should discard the really small ones and only plant the large. Did we do that? No, we did not and, as a consequence, we have a lot of blind daffodils this year. Because we have such a lot of daffodils, these non-flowering ones are not that noticeable. Some years ago, Ralph painstakingly moved hundreds of snowdrops and planted them one at a time, big and tiny bulbs, under the beech trees. We had not many flowers for the first few years. We had almost given up on all this hard work producing the impact we dreamed about. Now the area is a sheet of white every year. Patience is really necessary for making a good garden and I hope the daffs emulate the snowdrops and produce the required sheets of yellow in a few years time.         

I have been keeping a record of the flowering time of daffs here at ‘Narrow Meadow' since 1987. Over that time the flowering time for the first daff to flower has varied from 4 February in 1988 to 20 March in 1996. 2012 looks set to be earlier than any of my recorded dates.

I lost my Daphne odora ‘Aureo Marginata' last year. I don't think it was the cold that killed it. It was in the wrong place and always struggled. I planted a new one in what I think is the perfect position on a free-draining slope in full sun. I have high hopes for it and it is already scenting the garden with its beautiful pink flowers. I added Viburnum grandiflorum to my growing number of this species. I am now on the lookout for Viburnum prunifolium. I spotted this small tree in the Berlin Botanic Gardens last year. It was in its full autumn glory, a red autumn bonfire. When I came home I read about this small tree. Not only has it clusters of white flowers in spring and the aforementioned brilliant autumn colour, its fruits are comparatively large, bloomy, blue-black and they are sweet and edible. I have to have this tree.

Another tree I spotted was Sorbus alnifolia. The leaves of this tree are more like a birch than a sorbus and have a good autumn colour. What drew my attention to it, however, was not the leaf colour but the red berries hanging like bunches of grapes from every branch. It was quite a sight, one I hope to see in my own garden before too long. I am lucky to have a few good spaces for these gems since the removal of last winter's casualties.




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