The gardens at Keukenhof in April are quite remarkable. Great rivers of tulips are everywhere. Small exhibitions in the Juliana house give background information to the history and also to the planting practices of this huge venture: 7 million tulips (and other flowering bulbs) are planted each year and each year, at the end of flowering, these are all taken up and crushed to be used as compost around the trees in the garden and made into pulp for the paper which covers the guides to the estate.
As a not-for-profit organisation, in addition to the garden architects, the gardens rely on an army of volunteers. From May onwards the gardens are closed to allow time for the essential work of taking up the tulips and replanting, until reopening for the spring display. The bulbs in each garden area are given to Keukenhof by growers in the Netherlands and the name of the company appears as signage on the beds. For those wishing to make a note of their favourites, tulips are also discretely labelled, although it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormous range on display!
We’re always pleased to receive reports from our members’ gardens, particularly when accompanied by photos. This month Annie H wanted us to share her delight with the Rose Cottage ‘Garden Party’ tulips in her front garden.
Nicolas shared this photo with us showing his Daphne bholua in February.
I know we have had posts on euphorbias already, but these plants are such a delight in the month of April that I am adding yet more. The little Euphorbia Chameleon, below, self -seeds happily, but in such a delicate and restrained way that it is welcome everywhere I find it. In addition to this, it politely dies back and allows summer flowering plants to take over.
The Euphorbia below (amygdaloides purpurea) is a stunning contrast with the lime green flower head and the stems which are an intense dark red. It has seeded itself in the gravel path and I’m not entirely sure where it comes from.
In Euphorbia, flowers occur in a head, called the cyathium. Each male or female flower in the cyathium head has only its essential sexual part, in males the stamen and in females the pistil. The flowers do not have sepals, petals or nectar to attract pollinators, although other nonflower parts of the plant have an appearance and nectar glands with similar roles. Euphorbias are the only plants known to have this kind of flower head. It should also be noted that, when the stems are cut, they exude a thick white substance which is extremely irritating to skin.
And, of course, there is the magnificent Euphorbia Mellifera (Honey Spurge) which rightfully deserves its common name and is a delight to be near at this time of year when the scent fills the air. Every garden should have one – it keeps its shape well or can be cut back. Mine originally came from the garden of Jillian Smith, CABAHS ex-Chair, who many remember fondly. Jillian, if you are reading this – thank you!
We held our first actual Spring Show on Monday 11th April in Charlton House Long Gallery, after two years of Online Shows. Everyone seemed pleased to be back but there was clearly a shortage of suitable material in some classes, with no entries in the Hellebore Class and only one in the Flowering Shrub Class. This seems to have been caused by recent weather conditions and their effect on flowering.
Vija and Pat judged the entries and because Vija’s was the only entry in Class 3, that class wasn’t judged! Vija announced the winners as: Class 1 Daffodils/Narcissi – 3 stems: Maria B Class 2 Tulips – 3 stems: Margaret M Class 3 Flowering shrubs – 3 stems: (insufficient entries) Class 4 Camellias, Rhododendrons, Azaleas or Magnolia – 1 stem of any: Maggie T Class 5 Small vase of mixed Spring Flowers: Anna L Class 6 Any pot-grown plant (indoor or outdoor): Kathy A Class 7 A pot of Spring bulbs: Nicolas B Class 8 Hellebores – 3 stems: (no entries) Class 9 Tea cup floral display: Kay P
The Best in Show was selected by John King, a guest from Eltham & Avery Hill Gardens Society. He chose Sian T’s entry for the Tea Cup Floral display which she called “Teacup Fantasy”.
Vija reminded everyone of upcoming Events and Outings and encouraged everyone to check out our updated Website, Subscribe to receive an email whenever any new post is added and email CABAHS any feedback the website. Subscribing costs you nothing, keeps you up-to-date and you can Unsubscribe when you wish.
Our next Meeting is early (due to Easter) on April 11th and will be our Spring Show. Come and join in the fun.
Classes are as follows: Class 1 Daffodils/Narcissi – 3 stems Class 2 Tulips – 3 stems Class 3 Flowering shrubs – 3 stems Class 4 Camellias, Rhododendrons, Azaleas or Magnolia – 1 stem of any Class 5 Small vase of mixed Spring Flowers Class 6 Any pot-grown plant (indoor or outdoor) Class 7 A pot of Spring bulbs Class 8 Hellebores – 3 stems Class 9 Tea cup floral display
The blocks of Epimedium look stunning at the moment, the flowers show up beautifully – it was worth cutting back the old leaves at the beginning of the month. New green leaves are just coming through, with lovely red markings.
Lots of the existing shrubs are coming into flower now, especially in the Peace Garden.
All Hail to the Volunteers! (Literally in this case, as our session was abandoned due to hail!)
The Pomegranate trees in the Peace Garden at Charlton House have come into fruit very early this year, on April 1st.. and lots of other Spring flowers are opening up, the Walled Gardens are definitely worth a visit. Open Mon-Fri 10-4.
Anna has sent a picture of her blue garden, which she plants in late winter every year before the Eucomis take over in the summer. The Polyanthus flower clusters are going over but more buds are coming up, including hyacinths and Welsh poppy seedlings. What a striking effect!
And Sue has a succession of bulbs appearing in her pots as her ‘lasagne’ style planting develops through spring.
Spurred by Kathy’s post on Euphorbia in the Old Pond Garden I have taken this photo of E. myrsinites which sits outside my back door all year round. As Kathy points out, Euphorbia are a large and adaptable genus and at this time of year are a real treat. I have found they do particularly well in my gardening conditions and now have several varieties.
In my front garden (such as it is) Euphorbia characias s. wulfenii is usefully seeding itself in a way which looks like I have planted it deliberately, but is actually nothing to do with me at all.
Inspired by Melanie’s wonderful talk to members about the various Rothschild gardens, Sharon & I accompanied her on a trip to see the restoration project at Gunnersbury Park. We had our volunteer project at Charlton House & Gardens firmly in mind throughout the day, and were pleased to find parallels – albeit on a much grander scale there! Gunnersbury was bought by Ealing & Acton council in 1925 (Charlton was bought by Greenwich Council in the 1920s) and used as a public park in much the same way that Charlton Park has been.
In 2018 the “Large Mansion” was restored using Heritage Lottery and other funding and opened as a Museum housing the borough archive. Major parts of the park were included in the funding, the Orangery, lake and orchards for example. The Friends of Gunnersbury Park were instrumental in the restoration effort, and volunteers clearly play a large part in the day-to-day running.