Yes it’s still cold and frosty, but nature is really waking up now. Crocus and daffodils abound, but they’re not the only blooms to stand out from the crowd this month, says our gardening expert, Karen Murphy
Woodland beauties shine at the end of February/early March, such as exquisite pheasant’s eye daffodils (Narcissus poeticus), little star-like wood anemones, and sweet violets, all wonderful for naturalising in grass and under trees in a little shade – they’ll happily turn into a carpet of blooms if left to their own devices, and are more subtle and naturalistic than big blowsy yellow daffs.
Something a little more unusual, which will equally form a fabulous floral gentian-blue mat, is omphalodes ‘Starry Eyes’, a navelwort with almost cartoon-like flower heads. Plant these perennials in the next month or two for next year’s show, and the daffodils in autumn.
It’s prime tree and shrub planting time now, so why not plan ahead and start off a collection of early spring gems that’ll furnish you with blooms for years on end?
Edgeworthia, or paperbush, hails from the Himalayas where they use its wood for highly prized paper, but it gets on just fine over here, preferring a sunny spot. Once its flowers come along, you’ll see why it’s so revered in this country – yellow or red flower balls cluster on its branches, giving off a fantastic scent for early pollinating insects. Potted saplings cost about £30 – not bad considering the ornamental value.
Or perhaps try a Magnolia stellata, a great slow-growing tree for small gardens, and simply stunning for a few weeks in early spring with its exotic, large white star blooms. Glorious dwarf rhododendron ‘Praecox’ will only ever reach just over a metre tall, and it’s unusual in being an early flowerer, adding hot, fiery pink to rainy, cold days. This one’s great for a pot, as it needs slightly acidic soil. These shrubs and trees are wonderful for a slice of unusual Oriental charm, adopted by us to bring colour to the early months
of the year.
3 unusual... summer bulbs to plant now
Also known as corn lilies, the star blooms come out in early summer.
Late summer fluffy magenta spikes up to 50cm tall.
Early summer sees these well-named foxtail lilies tower in beds and borders.
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Karen writes for Garden News magazine which is packed full of tips, inspiration, plant and product news and great money-saving offers! On sale every Tuesday or subscribe and try your first 4 issues for just £1 – Call 080858 438884 and quote YFIG, or visit www.greatmagazines.co.uk/YFIG. T&Cs apply.