A perplexing spring still produces blooms

In this perplexing spring, daphnes appear on time. And others? Well, there are a few surprises.

May 13, 2010 | | Blogs

The weather this spring has been quite perplexing. Some plants are blooming more or less on schedule, including the beautiful Daphne.

By Liz Knowles

Daphnes play a key role in the spring garden and, thankfully, are blooming on schedule.

Daphne mezereum is one of the first to bloom in early April but none is more iconic than the Daphne cneorum (pictured here), which reliably blooms around Mother’s Day or around the second weekend in May.

Daphne cneorum, by Liz Knowles

Daphne cneorum. Photos by Liz Knowles

Its scent will guide you to the top of the rock garden where it grows and spreads happily. It doesn’t fare nearly as well in a regular perennial bed where it is constrained by other plants. Given good drainage and room to roam, a relatively small 25 cm wide plant has in five years spread to over 1 meter in diameter.

We have several magnolias on the property, they bloom from early April through to the end of May. Magnolia stellata or the star magnolia is the real workhorse. It blooms for well over a month, but some of the lesser-known magnolias deserve mention too.

The soft pink bloom shown here is Magnolia loebneri Leonard Messel.

Magnolia loebneri Leonard Messel

For the first time this year, we had blooms on Magnolia kobus, a Japanese species that I grew from seed 13 years ago. Gardening sometimes requires patience!

Although the recent cold snap frosted some of the blossoms, the star in the rock garden is Magnolia Alexandrina which has tulip-shaped blooms, white on the inside and flushed purple outside.

The gentians, however, are blooming three weeks ahead of last year.

Gentiana acaulis grows in the European Alps and it’s very happy in several spots in the rock garden where the drainage is sharp, it receives regular rainfall or watering and where it isn’t crowded out by other plants.

Gentiana acaulis

Is there a more beautiful blue in the plant world?

You’ll have to judge for yourself next month when you see a photo of Meconopsis in bloom.

Liz Knowles gardens at Larkspur Hollow in the Hockley Valley.

About the Author More by Liz Knowles

Liz Knowles has been gardening in the Hockley Valley for more than 25 years.

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