Tulip Mania!

Colourful tulips - from Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner blog

Though tulips are as quintessentially Dutch as windmills and clogs, they are actually an Eastern flower, growing wild along a narrow belt, stretching from Ankara in Turkey to the mountain ranges of Pamir-Alai and Tien Shan in Central Asia. The word tulip itself is derived from the Turkish and Persian names for turban, named for the resemblance between the flower’s petals and the turban’s overlapping folds of material.

A prized flower in Turkey, the tulip later became a symbol of the Ottoman Empire, with a period during the early 18th century – noted for its prosperity and relative peace – being labelled the Tulip Era. The classic tulip motif, with elongated petals, often featured in Ottoman art.

A hundred or...

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Spring is here!

Spring bulbs and pick-me-up window box displays.

Tulips in a huge array of colours to complement any colour scheme. Crown imperials (Fritillaria imperialis), with spectacular Carmen Miranda headgear. Cheerful daffodils and chirpy violas. Here’s what I found flowering this week…

For more gardening ideas, click here to follow the Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner on Pinterest.


Spring is (not yet) sprung!

Narcissus Tête-à-Tête - spring border ideas from Weatherstaff

I’m not too great when it comes to delayed gratification. I want spring – and I want it now!

Actually, I wanted it a couple of weeks ago. I like the changing of the seasons. I love autumn colours and crisp winter days, but now, I’d like the seasons to change again.

With the arrival of February, spring seemed almost within the grasp of my gardening-gloved hand. And really, February’s such a little month to endure. Those missing few days at the end of February mean that by mid-month, it’s almost over! There’s Valentine’s Day, too, slap in the middle, to cheer us up with chocolates and flowers. Suddenly, supermarket shelves are laden with bunches and baskets of flowers. Garden...

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Celebrating the Lily of the Valley – La Fête du Muguet

Tall vases of Lily of the Valley from the Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner blog

May 1st – International Workers’ Day or Labour Day – is a public holiday in many parts of the world. It coincides with the much older traditional festival of May Day – springtime festivities, associated with May Queens and ribbon-dancing around the maypole. In France, it is also the Fête du Muguet, the day when the little Lily of the Valley, with its delicate sprays of white bells, is elevated to the position of celebrated star for the day.

The earliest May Day celebrations honoured the ancient Roman goddess of flowers, Flora, and flowers inevitably feature in many of the traditions associated with this day. Traditionally, “May baskets”, containing flowers or sweets, were given at this time of year. They...

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A Crescendo of Crocuses

Spring Crocuses - from the Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner

What’s the collective noun for a group of crocuses? A cluster, a crowd, a colony? A swathe, a dazzle, a drift?

On a bright, chill-nipped, late-February afternoon in Cannizaro Park, the word which comes to mind is crescendo – the pale buds, pushing up in clumps through the crumpled dead leaves and winter mud-brown soil, gradually increasing in number and intensity of colour, spilling across the grassy borders, unfurling to reveal orange stamen and deep purple petals, peaking at the very moment I reach the park gates!

Cannizaro Park is a 34-acre Grade II* listed English Heritage garden, to the south of Wimbledon Common. A private garden for 300 years, it was acquired by Wimbledon Borough Council, now London Borough...

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What’s flowering in early March?

The cheerful little crocus - spring garden border idea from the Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner

So many plants flowering in early March. Here’s what I found flowering this week…

For more gardening ideas, click here to follow the Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner on Pinterest.


Secret Garden

Stepping stones landscape design ideas

When the children were small, I was quite taken with the idea of creating pathways around the garden. Trails for chasing round and doubling back on. Routes for Easter Egg Hunts. A pergola, clothed in climbers, providing hiding places for leaping out of on dark nights. For small children, plants didn’t need to grow very high before they could be ducked behind and screen someone in a game of Hide and Seek.

One year, we had a Princess and Prince themed birthday party held in the garden. The highlight was a game we devised which entailed leading the party-goers one by one around the stepping stone pathways on a hunt to slay the dragon. The children waited, quivering with excitement...

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Magnolia Time

Magnolia stellata from Weatherstaff Planting Planner

It’s the Magnolia time of year again – every other garden boasts eye-catching, head-turning starry flowers.

Here’s one of my favourites: Magnolia stellata or Star Magnolia. Strokeable, furry buds and a starburst of pure white petals in March and April. Perfect in a woodland garden … or any garden really!


Daffadowndilly

Daffodils Weatherstaff Plant Profile

“Daffodils that come before the swallow dares, and takes the winds of March with beauty.”

William Shakespeare

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet, She wore her greenest gown; She turned to the south wind And curtsied up and down. She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head, And whispered to her neighbour: “Winter is dead.”

Daffodowndilly – AA Milne

The daffodil is the national flower of Wales. On March 1st – St David’s Day – we dressed up in Welsh National Costume, complete with frilly apron and tall black hat, and pinned on a daffodil. By the end of the day, it was a sorry, droopy little thing, but, still, I always preferred a real daffodil, with its fresh,...

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Forest Bells

Bluebell woods garden plans software

The ancient bluebell woods in April and May are a quintessential feature of the British landscape. Dappled sunshine. The fresh spring green of the returning leaf canopy. A purple haze, colour-washing the woodland floor.

We were delighted to discover wild bluebells springing up in our hedgerow when we moved to our new home. The elegant, lavender-blue flowers are narrowly tubular, their petal tips recurving like the hat of a fairy elf. Sweetly scented, they are carried on one side of the flowering stem only, weighting the slender stem down so that it arches at the top.

It is the slight and stately stem The blossom’s silvery blue The buds hid like a sapphire gem In sheaths of emerald hue

‘Tis these...

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