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See a sample issue of The Irish Garden!

April 2005

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April showers, trillium, veratrum and water lilies

I like April. I even like April showers; they drench rather than drown and temper that dreaded late spring drought which is a curiously frequent occurrence here close to the east coast. My woodland garden suffers from long periods of drought from now on and I will have to improve the irrigation this year. A number of seep hoses have served me well over the past few years but inevitably they have deteriorated. Because they are black and partially buried in the leaf mould its so easy to dig through them with a spade!

Trilliums grow well in the woodland and have self-sown. The trouble is that the seedlings take years to reach flowering size and in the meantime get disturbed and lost in the general grubbing around and have to fight for survival. Beside my strong growing Trillium chloropetalum giganteum I grow the somewhat rare green veratrum, Veratrum viride , a plant which is extremely slow from seed. This appeals to those who love green on green. In spring it is really striking with strong-growing large leaves and in summer is enhanced with elegant spikes of green flowers. In fairly deep shade its leaves retain their beauty throughout the season. This is in contrast to the white veratrum, Veratrum album, which I grow in the open garden. While in the spring the leaves of white species are a lovely green colour with prominent veining the edges soon become brown and loose their pristine quality.

Trilliums grow well in the woodland and have self-sown.

My water lilies have been growing like cabbages and the pool is now full. When the leaves rise well over the surface the flowering deteriorates and it is time to divide the clumps. It is a very messy job and when I pull the bulging pots ashore strange water insects crawl reluctantly out of the mud. I hack off the healthier looking pieces of the water lilies with a saw knife, replant in good soil and consign them again to the deep with a sigh of relief. They can thrive without any further attention now for a few more years and as a bonus I have a number of spares.

Over on the shady side of the house my nursery area is bursting at the seams. This spring I have planted almost a hundred types of seed - many of which I admit are replacements for species I have had and lost. The seed sowing is the easy part. Some early germination has reminded me that the main work of pricking out lies ahead. Next year I think I will have to temper my enthusiasm somewhat!




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