April flowers need April showers.

We are so used to having rain on and off during the winter months and of course the April  showers are well known here in England, that it doesn’t seem the same having it dry day after day. There is now talk of a hosepipe ban in the south west, the same as the south east, not because our reservoirs are low, but because our rivers are very low. If the rivers fall below a certain level then the fish die through lack of oxygen, if the fish die , then so do the birds and mammals that feed on them. Also, farmers usually extract water from rivers to water their crops and for their livestock. No rain means no grass growing for them to eat, so eventually the crops die and the animals struggle to survive.

Long view

A few flowers struggling in our gardens doesn’t seem anywhere near as serious somehow, this is where I am glad of our heavy clay soil, plants that have a deep root system have access to moisture further down and manage perfectly well, thank goodness. We are also thankful of our water butts which do fill up over the winter, at any one time we can have 500 gallons stored, one huge butt by the house holds 400 gallons and 2 smaller ones by the garage of 50 gallons each. All our watering of the garden (tubs, hanging baskets and all new planting) is done from the water butts so we then decided to have a water meter fitted when we were being presented with huge water bills and have never regretted the decision.

My last 2 posts have included some April flowers , so if you would like to see all the white ones in the garden, click here  and if you would like to see the cowslips and primroses please click here.


When wandering round the garden with camera, I found loads of ladybirds, everywhere I looked, when cutting back to tidy anything, I had to be very careful as there always seemed to be ladybirds wherever I wanted to be.


Little violas are doing really well, love their cheeky faces!


A Prunus planted by the previous people where we now have the bog garden, I think it really is too wet for it but it copes.


I thought Tulipa sylvestris would be happy in the woodland and yes, it is. Having had problems with tulips and our heavy soil in the past, I decided to try this one and I’m glad I did, each year it is increasing and looking better and better.

S. Siberica

Little Scilla siberica is increasing nicely on the alpine scree, each year more and more seedlings appear and flower making such a gorgeous patch of blue.

Double primrose

Another splash of blue, this time in the shade of the pergola by the field, a lovely double primrose.


A Camellia at the side of the driveway in the front garden, covered at the moment with loads of flowers.

P. sunhirtela autumnalis

Just beside the Camellia is Prunus subhirtella autumnalis. One was planted a few years ago but eventually when it flowered had pink flowers, they should be white. I asked the nursery to replace it and this is what I now have, this looks awfully pink to me, I know the buds start off pink but then turn white, but even so, these flowers do seem too pink to me. There is a variety called “rosea”, is this what I have for the second time, can someone please help ?!!


A tiny Veronica climbing over one of our small walls, such a lovely blue flower.

Californian Iris

Super little Californian Iris in the damper part of the woodland, these are with the Fritillaria meleagris which I wrote about in an earlier post, click here to read about them and they really did suffer from a lack of rain, appearing and flowering much later than they normally do. Never thought to water them during the winter!

Muscari Valerie Finnis

Another lovely splash of blue on the alpine scree comes from Muscari Valerie Finnis, she is very well behaved and doesn’t seed everywhere, just clumps up nicely in time.

Erythronium White Beauty

The Erythroniums are now flowering, looking so dainty and delicate, such beautiful flowers for a shady border.

Kerria japonica Pleniflora

Another shrub in the border by the driveway is Kerria japonica Pleniflora, making a good splash of yellow. Most gardens round us have Forsythia in full bloom, we took ours out because the Bullfinches stripped our bushes of all their flowerbuds, year after year. The Kerria shines out just as yellow and the Bullfinches leave this one well alone, thank goodness.

E. Knighthayes Pink

Another Erythronium, this time Knighthayes Pink, originally found in the grounds of our local National Trust house, Knighthayes, in Devon. They have fantastic drifts of this one which has seeded around under the magnificent trees in the parkland. Maybe one day my single plant will be joined by lots more!

Narcissus Pipit

A late flowering narcissus, Pipit, but so welcome for its beautiful scent, a truly wonderful perfume.

D. langtrees

The Dicentras have now started to flower, think this is Langtrees, with a lovely glaucous leaf.

T. Abu Hassan

My favourite Tulip Abu Hassan, simply because it keeps coming back, year after year, the only one that is reliably repeat flowering for me!


This Azalea flowered in January when we were having a ridiculously warm spell and covered itself in flowers, I wondered if it would flower again at the proper time and the answer is yes, but not quite as many flowers this time.

C. repandum

Cyclamen repandum takes over from Cyclamen coum in the woodland, not quite as hardy as coum or hederifolium but it has a lamium and vinca providing extra cover during the winter months.

L. galeobdolon Variegatum

Part of the groundcover in the woodland is Lamium galiobdolon Variegatum, which is a bit of a thug but kept under control by pulling a lot out after it has finished flowering! The bees really love the flowers so that is why I wait before starting to clear it each year.

Forget me not

Splashes of blue everywhere from forget-me-nots, myosotis. Must move lots of my plants, they go with everything, narcissus, tulips, Bowles golden grass, everything seems to look better with an understorey of beautiful blue!

We had some very welcome rain last night and this morning and hopefully there is a lot more to come for the rest of the week. By next weekend my water butts should be full again, the soil should be moistened once more and all the plants a lot happier. I know they can cope, but would rather that they didn’t have to struggle. In all my planting I have tried to follow Beth Chatto’s advice of  “right plant, right place ” and so far it seems to have worked!


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12 Responses to April flowers need April showers.

  1. Alberto says:

    Apparently you choose a lot of lovely ‘right plants’! I really like your yellow tulips, must look for them next autumn. You awfully pink flowered prunus is beautiful to me, I especially like the pointing buds and for the pink: it is a rather light shade of pink, not a shocking one!

    • Pauline says:

      I agree Alberto, the pink is pretty but it was bought as a white one because there are so many yellow daffodils underneath and I can’t stand yellow and pink together!! Maybe I will have to move the daffodils and replace them with lovely white Thalia!

  2. catmint says:

    Your first 2 paragraphs were very interesting, because what’s happened here is a conflict between agricultural interests and the needs of rivers to thrive. Denis Wilson posted some submissions to an enquiry about this, you might like to look at it: eonyden.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/murray-darling-river-system-is-living.html
    Pauline, the number of flowers thriving are breathtakingly divine. I agree, Beth Chatto’s advice is foolproof, except you only find out sometimes by trial and error!

    • Pauline says:

      We have had a lot of rain lately Catmint, water butts filling nicely, but apparently it will need to rain for the rest of the year to put our rivers back to what they should be with us having 2 relatively dry winters. Will read Denis Wilson’s submissions with interest.
      When I mentioned Beth Chatto, I was thinking of some people I know who have sandy soil, they grow the plants that I grow on my heavy clay, and then they water their whole garden every night each summer!

  3. Anna says:

    You have some beautiful April flowers which certainly must be lapping up all the wet stuff with appreciation. I think that you may well have the rosea version of the autumn flowering cherry. Mine has finished flowering now but I’m sure that it’s not as pink as that. Will have to check photos. That lamium is the bane of my life 🙂

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks for visiting Anna, yes my plants are really enjoying the rain which we have at long last. So often we see the dark clouds over Dartmoor, but by the time they get to us there is no rain left. Have just had a quick look at your blog, so had to laugh about the lamium, I can just about keep it in one area so its not too bad!!

  4. Christina says:

    with such beautiful blooms your garden must be looking so beautiful at the moment. I’m a great fan of Beth Chatto too. Living here in such a different climate I have learnt that you must plant plants suitable to the situation or you’ll struggle to keep them alive let alone make them thrive for ever more. Your Prunus subhirtella autumnalis does actually look like it is that at all. Also it is late for that to be flowering. In the UK it usually flowers from November though the winter when it is mild. I know what you mean about yellow and pink together. Christina

    • Pauline says:

      Beth Chatto’s books were the first ones that I bought Christina. so I have been very influenced by her planting principles. Before reading her books, it was amazing how many plants were put in the wrong place, back in the old days when garden centres were very new, labels didn’t give you the information that they do today! I’m convinced my Prunus is the wrong one so the easier option is to plant lots of white narcissus in the autumn!

  5. You are having the same water issues that we are. It is supposed to rain for the first time in months tomorrow. I have never experienced a spring drought in 30 years of gardening at this location. That running lamiastrum is an awful plant. Don’t let it get into your other groundcovers.

    • Pauline says:

      Since I wrote the last post Carolyn we have had lots of lovely rain, quite gentle so that it doesn’t flatten the plants and the soil is now nice and moist. Who would ever think of having to water in the winter and spring!!
      I find the lamium quite easy to pull out,thank goodness, soon be time to do it again when it has finished flowering, I don’t let it cross the path to where my little treasures are !

  6. Christina says:

    Hi again Pauline, I’ve been trying to subscribe to your blog. When I click the page an error message comes up. I hate missing your posts, I hope you can help solve the problem. thank you. Christina

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