I recently spent some time with my parents on Madeira. It is seriously a plant-lover’s paradise! Here are some of the crazy-looking plants I saw…
This wonderful creature is called the Mickey-Mouse bush. The yellow flowers fall off to reveal these cute red sepals, and eventually produce black fruits which give the plant its common name. Isn’t it lovely?
And this is the kapok tree. Earlier in the year it has striking red five-lobed flowers which are apparently very attractive to bats, but its main importance is the fruit: a light fibre which is used as an alternative to down as stuffing for soft toys and upholstery. I’m told that the fibres loosen and float off, to the great annoyance to residents…but to me they are just cool!
Bowood House, near Calne in Wiltshire, is a fine example of an English Country House. The gardens and part of the house are open April-November and are well worth a visit. Every spring the owners open their justly famous Rhododendron Walk to the public, and this year I was able to go. But though the rhododendrons are spectacular, my interest was elsewhere…
More technical issues this month, but I did manage to make one successful trip…
I fell in love with some new trees. This (I think) is the redbud I photographed before, now in full leaf.
What a beauty!
A strawberry tree in the entrance courtyard.
This is a magnolia, I think. Just beautiful.
A huge bottle-brush tree by the Bird Observation Station.
And I was captivated by the tulip tree outside the Boddy House.
March is a colorful – and busy! – month at Descanso Gardens. While the camellias are still giving their best, joined now by the clivias planted beneath them,
other trees and shrubs are getting in on the act. The cherry blossom in the Japanese Garden warrants a festival all to itself, well-deserved when you see how beautifully they combine with the azaleas and acers with which they share space.
is holly. I’ve never seen it blossom before.
– a real reminder of English springs!
The dogwoods (though not strictly a blossom) deserve an honorable mention.
And a relatively new plant to me – the redbud.
And don’t get me started on the bulbs…!
If bluebells are the shy beauties of spring, tulips are the chorus girls. They are typically colourful and wildly effective en masse. Attractive enough to have caused arguably the world’s first speculative bubble and to have inspired some of the world’s most best artists.
I was late planting mine and so I’m only just seeing flowers.
Descanso Gardens is more organised and the results are spectacular!
Bluebells are one of my top ten favourite flowers. There is nothing more evocative of an English spring than a woodland carpeted with these fragile beauties.
When we first moved here I planted several hundred bulbs under the liquidambar trees and azaleas as a taste of home. Despite suffering a trampling when we redid the irrigation earlier this year they are beginning to put on a show…
…my own little patch of England!
Technical issues and too much to do were my enemies this month but I managed to carve out some time for my favourite botanical gardens. The camellias are still going strong,
although are being carried off…
And I spotted this little beauty I’ve not seen before:
Unfortunately not labelled. Can anyone identify it?
The lilacs already got a page all to themselves…
And I love that the gardeners allow the leaves to stay on the ground so that nature can do its thing!
A little bird told me there were lilacs to be seen at Descanso Gardens.
The approach was not hopeful…
I only made it to Descanso Gardens once in January, but that hour was worth it. I believe I can officially call it spring! There are shoots peeping out and blossom beginning to show, even alongside reminders of winter.
It had rained the night before so the camellias and magnolias were a little battered, but I just love their slightly artificial-looking flowers.
One of my favourite places to visit is the small kitchen garden, Nature’s Table. There is always something to spark my interest. This month I was taken by the rainbow chard whose glossy green leaves contrast beautifully with the greyish-green of the artichoke. And the coloured stems look like fireworks!
And I love the weathered forms they use to collect leaves. Look at the way the peas have been trained around this one. Pretty, AND practical…my kind of garden!
The Center [sic] Circle has recently been redone as a California meadow. Although it’s tiny, it sparked the germ of an idea for the most difficult part of our garden…of which more later…
Do you have a favourite place to take photos? Where do you go for inspiration?