Spring is one of the busiest and most exciting seasons in the garden. After months of inactivity, with rain, snow and cold temperatures,spring growth suddenly accelerates. The major new colour is lime green as the lawn puts on new growth, and the shrubs and trees explode in thousands of buds. Daffodils emerge, then tulips that can be as subtle or extrovert as you like, followed by the exotically beautiful magnolias, and rhododendrons that can be as high as a house. Getting the garden off to a smart start could not be simpler.
Large-scale mixed planting. With planning, you can create superb floral displays. If you have a spare patch of garden, or a long stretch of path, try creating a fantastic show of spring colours. Plant a row of lime trees down the centre, add decorative large pots and urns, and then begin underplanting the limes with hundreds of bulbs and perennials in a bright jamboree of red, white, blue and yellow.
Go for a mix of scillas and daffodils, tulips and anemones, primroses with pulmonarias, and fritillarias with euphorbias, and the effect will be absolutely spectacular. When you see something on that scale, and with that much verve, you realize just how startling a spring show of flowers can be.
Once the main spring show has been planned, it is easy to work back to the late winter and early spring plants, and forward to the late spring and early summer flowers. There are scores of late winter performers, and the best include the tiny Cyclamen persicum and Iris danfordiae, and shrubs like Camellia ‘Inspiration’ that will flower in late winter if it is warm.
The many late spring flowers provide a good link to the start of summer. There is a much larger choice of these plants, and they include the showy yellow laburnums, and clematis. With the ingredients in place, all you need do is sit back and enjoy.
Creating a display. It is vital, when planning a spring display, that you check the different flowering times of the bulbs and the surrounding plants. There are tulips, for example, that flower in early, mid- and late spring. If the planning gets too complicated, go for just one big show in mid-season, which offers a wonderfully extensive and showy range of tulips.
If you have never grown tulips, get hold of a specialist bulb catalogue. Tulip colours range from whites, yellows and reds, to subtle purples and lilacs. Others come in twin colours, including startling yellow with red stripes like ‘Flaming Parrot’, and the equally startling ‘Frisbee’, which has white cupped flowers ringed around the rim in red.
Use plants to help focus attention on the key features. like statues, splendid large urns or imaginative, topiarized shapes. When working out where to put each colour, it is an enormous help to plan the sheme by standing at key vantage points. This immediately helps clarify which colours you need in the foreground, the middle, and far distance.
Spring is a good time to create something new, whether it is a small tub or a large, multi-coloured border.