Karen Murphy explains how to brighten up a dull wall with these five early-flowering beauties
1 Chaenomeles ‘Geisha Girl’
Ideal for a shady north or cold east-facing wall, this flowering quince produces lots of pastel apricot-pink flowers just as the leaves unfurl. Suits any soil as long as it's not constantly wet.
Tip: Prune off any forward-facing shoots to develop ideal fan shape
2 Stachyurus sinensis
Spreading shrub with arching dark-red shoots producing stiff, pendulous spikes of soft yellow flowers in April. Site in sun or partial shade in soils that don’t dry out in summer.
Tip: Prune back new shoots by half after flowering once the shrub fills space
3 Forsythia suspensa ‘Nymans’
Excellent form of the familiar forsythia with slender, weeping shoots that are ideal for training against a framework on a wall or fence. Any soil in sun or partial shade.
Tip: Thin out wispy shoots and tie in strongest to framework
4 Coronilla valentina ‘Citrina’
Long-flowered shrub with blue-green pea-leaves, and sweetly scented flowers from December to April. Fragile shoots need careful training. Sunny, well-drained soil in shelter.
Tip: Grow next to a doorway to benefit from its gorgeous fragrance
5 Ceanothus ‘Italian Skies’
Spectacular display of bright blue blossom in late March and April set against a curtain of glossy rich green leaves. Prefers neutral to alkaline well-drained soil in sun. Easily clipped.
Tip: Combine with summer clematis for a second season of interest