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A true spectacle - Geranium maderense in flower!

Geranium maderense in flower

In our frost free glass house we currently have a real spectacle - one of our Geranium maderense has just started blooming!  The giant dome of flowers is the most vivid cerise and has many hundreds of individual blooms - each of them flamboyant.

While Geranium maderense can be a somewhat tricky plant to get to this stage - when it does flower it is a true show stopper.  Plus we should have plenty of seed when this lot sets!


Nursery work continues apace.

Potted plants growing in a nursery tunnel

Back from Greece and there will be no rest now for a good few months!  Everything in the nursery is now growing apace - so potting up, weeding, feeding and sorting things out are the order of the day.


Aegean sunset - the image of a Mediterranean holiday.

Sunset on the island of Hydra, Greece.

My spring break in Greece was regrettably over too soon.  The return to rainy Heathrow was a bit of a shock.

Looking back over the photos I took the few days I was on Hydra I saw this one - taken at dusk looking across to neighbouring islands. 

It seem to me a classic slice of what people imagine a Mediterranean holiday to look like - sea, island and perhaps just as important, the shapes of sun scorched, wind swept pines which are so evocative of that landscape.  Makes me want to go back!


Fabulous wildflowers on the Greek hillsides.

Phlomis fruticosa flowering on a Greek hillside

Up on the hillsides wildflowers are in full bloom - spring really is a magical time in this part of the world - for the gardener this is a far better season than summer when most of the tourist choose to visit.

I saw this stand of Jerusalem Sage - Phlomis fruticosa - happily flowering away, which is native to the eastern Mediterranean.  It is always a bit of a thrill seeing plants that everyone knows well from garden cultivation growing in their wild home conditions.  It also gives you a very clear idea of what they really like - in this case good drainage and plenty of sunshine!


Things round the Aegean are in full growth.

Garden on the island of Hydra, Spring 2016

As soon as we got down to work in the garden on Hydra it became clear just how advance plants are here in the warmth of the eastern Mediterranean.

There again growth needs to be rapid as while conditions are ideal now - temperatures are in the mid twenties and there is plenty of moisture - this won't last once the summer heat arrives.

It was very pleasing to see the great drifts of beaded irises doing so well - we well remember the job of planting them in their thousands!


Back to Hydra - and things are looking wonderful!

View from the island of Hydra, Greece.

One of the spring highlights over recent years has been the chance to take a short visit to a garden we helped to plant up seven years ago on the island of Hydra in the Aegean.

After the chill winds and rain of spring in the UK, Hydra is a wonderful place to do a bit of light gardening mixed in with some sightseeing and plenty of good food and wine!


More Fritillaries - Crown imperials on the way.

Emerging stems of Fritillaria imperialis

Not far from where i saw those Snakeshead fritillaries, I was walking down a path past a border when I became aware of the most unmistakable odour of 'foxes' - which led me to spot these fine growths of emerging F. imperialis - the Crown Imperial.

While Fritillary bulbs can produce the most wonderful flowers I certainly wouldn't rank them for their scent - which anyone who has ever handled a fritillary bulb will be able to attest.


Snakeshead Fritillaries - another spring favourite!

Snakeshead fritillaries in flower in long grass

While the winds are still quite brisk at the moment, some plants are loving the bright cool conditions.

These Snakeshead Fritillaries - F. Meleagris are always a great favourite of mine - they look simply stunning in long grass with their bell like heads nodding in the breeze. Allowed to naturalise they can rapidly form a good colony if the ground is to their liking - moist and heavy.


Fabulous hellebores!

Helleborus 'Angel glow' in flower.

Some plants are just really good performers.  I have been watching this Helleborus 'Angel Glow' for nearly a couple of months now and it is still producing a wonderful display.  The flowers started as a soft 'appleblossom' pink and are now a rosy hue.  Plus like many of the Helleborus x ericsmithii cultivars it has beautifully cut and marked foliage - no doubt a reflection of its H. lividus parentage.


Spring display developing well

Anemone blanda and primroses

Spring is a particularly fine time in the woodland garden as many spring bulbs and woodland plants are making good use of the high light levels.

I enjoyed seeing this patch of mixed woodlander - Anemone blanda, Primroses and Euphorbias amongst many other plants - it produced a really pleasant tapestry of colours and forms.



Paeonia cambessedesii seedlings growing nicely

Paeonia cambessedesii seedlings

While far from the splendour of their flowering parents, these seedling P. cambessedesii are a very pleasing sight.

They will take a few years to get to produce flower but they are a worthwhile investment in the future as even a small Majorcan paeony is an expensive plant!


Paeonia cambessedesii flowering magnificently

Paeonia cambessedesii in flower.

Back up at the nursery we have the annual treat of our stock of Paeonia cambessedesii producing its truly stunning flower display.

Like all paeonies this is a relatively short moment of splendour however it is an attractive plant simply for its foliage and if it sets seeds they are a striking blue colour and very decorative.  Anyway I would grow it just for its flowers alone!



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