• Robert Blake

spring flowering perennials


Rosy Hardy gave another very informative talk to the Club on 7th April. She and her husband run a multi-award winning specialist plant nursery near Whitchurch, fifteen miles north of Winchester, and have amassed at least 20 RHS Chelsea Gold Medals. This time her subject was spring flowering perennials but we had to make do with superbly illustrated pictures rather than the actual plants! You will not find some of their unusual perennials in the average nursery but they are all grown in the open for toughness. Examples are outlined below and a guide to their sizes is shown as ‘Height x Spread’ in centimetres.


The first group of plants covered were those suitable for sunny positions:


· Geum ‘Bell Bank’ (45 x 40) bears soft coral pink flowers from mid-April to May, requires moist but free-draining soil and makes a lovely clump.

· Epheion ‘Alberto Castillo’ (15 x 30) has narrow grass-like foliage, produces masses of dainty white scented flowers from late March to May and needs well-drained soil. It dies back completely after flowering and reappears again in winter.

· Thermopsis ‘lanceolata’ (90 x 90) displays yellow lupin-like flowers in late spring, which attract bees and butterflies. It has lance-shaped leaves on erect stems, does not need staking, tolerates light shade and likes well-drained soil.


The second group prefer partial shade:


· Lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Alba’ (90 x 60) has pure white heart-shaped flowers and lime green foliage, and is ideal for planting under trees or large shrubs where it is shaded from direct sunlight. If it is hit by frost, cut back damaged stems immediately and it will re-shoot and flower.

· Lathyrus vernus ‘Cynaeus’ (25 x 25), known as spring vetch, looks good under shrubs and roses. It forms a dense clump of green foliage and loads of blue pea-like flowers open from purple buds.

· Primula ‘Barbara Midwinter’ (15 x 20) flowers early with bright magenta pink flowers, provides good ground cover and thrives in wet soggy soils.


The final group prefer full shade:


· Uvularia grandiflora (50 x 40), known as Merry Bells, is ideal for woodland gardens. Its arching stems produce bright yellow bell-like flowers in April/May. The root rhizomes creep slowly to form clumps.

· Viola ‘Coeur d’Alsace’ (10 x 30) bears rosy pink flowers from early February to April. They look beautiful in drifts or along border edges and deadheading encourages more flowers.


If you want to do further research then I suggest that you visit their excellent website at: www.hardysplants.co.uk.