Chronicle March 2012 | Chronicles May 2012

April 2012

Warmest greeting to all my gardening friends. Spring has finally arrived and the garden is triumphantly returning to life! It’s been resting over the past half year during the winter cold, but now so much is beginning to happen. Today's date is 29 April, so we’re only a few days away from the merry month of May. April, too, has been a wonderful month. Here in A Gentleman's Garden tens of thousands of crocuses have presented an amazing display of colour – particularly the unfortunately named Negro Boy, which is the deepest purple of any crocus (though far from being black!). I planted it for the first time in the autumn – and now I'm totally sold on it. Quite simply, it's just so beautiful. Unfortunately, most of the crocuses have now finished blooming but all of them – white, blue, yellow and purple alike – have put on a fantastic show.

At the moment, there are masses of white, heavily perfumed Carnegie hyacinths in bloom, as well as anemone White Splendour unbroken white. The daffodils are also a sight to behold. Anemones, which spread by means of rhizomes, are a wonderful feature in any spring garden – and an added bonus is that they’re not listed on the breakfast menu of any deer! As to hyacinths, in my opinion they are far too under-appreciated here in Sweden; they make such a contribution to the garden – both visually and olfactorily – that they definitely deserve a better fate than merely to be given away as potted presents during the Christmas season.

The trees are also beginning to turn green. The stately old Magnolia soulangeana, which stands by the house, is spectacular with its luxuriant canopy of large white and pink petals. We’ve lived in the house about 16 years, but I can't remember ever having experienced such fantastic flowering as this year. I usually fertilise all of the magnolias with a half a sack of decomposed cow manure in the spring, and another half a sack in the autumn.

I'm now going to go down to the fruit garden and take a walk around. There, the alliums are standing and waiting to bloom, but it will take a few more weeks yet. At the moment, the birds are singing in the air and everywhere plants are beginning to sprout forth. If only it could be just a bit warmer…

We (i.e. A Gentleman’s Garden’s three musketeers – I, my partner Reuven and our photographer Solveig) were in Holland last week visiting our bulb supplier and, naturally, we took the opportunity to spend almost an entire day at the indescribably beautiful Keukenhof, with its millions of tulips and other bulb plants. None of us had been there previously and we all feel that that, quite simply, IT MUST BE SEEN. Wow! Perhaps I'll write a bit more about the visit in the next chronicle.

The sun is now going down over our little garden, ethereal scents grow stronger as night falls, and with the setting of the sun it's time for certain flowers to pull down the blinds and close themselves in after a day in the sun. These include anemones and one of my old favourites, the ever so cute and perky botanical tulip Tarda, which thrives in full sun and poor soil, preferably gravel or rock.

At the moment, in the midst of all the spring greenery, I'm being kept busy planning and trying to decide where the new bulbs should be planted when they arrive in the autumn. Indoors, I'm busy with my lilies. Until now I've always pre-planted them in pots before planting them out in the garden, but this year I'm going to do a little experiment. I'm going to pre-plant only half of them, and put the other half directly in the ground. It will be then be a question of waiting to see whether the results really justify all the bother of pre-planting. Time will tell. I’ll report the results – so watch this space. I’ve also been busy tending to my sweet pea plants. I might have mentioned it before, but when pre-planting sweet peas, after the first 2-3 pairs of leaves it’s best to continuously remove any new leaves; that way the plants become thicker and more stable.

Everything takes its time -and everything has its time. My beloved crocuses have been here for what was (in my view) all too fleet a visit. But that’s Nature’s way. Now I'll have to wait a whole year until we see each other again – but during that time there will undoubtedly be many other beauties attracting my eye and capturing my heart.

Enjoy the spring!

Stefan, A Gentleman Gardener

Below: Keukenhoff Holland April 2012 .