Spring slow

There’s plenty new growth at Abriachan since I was last there. Banks of pink Pulmonaria, borders of blue Hepatica, Pulsatilla halleri peeping through, Erythronium dens-canis (the wrongly named dog’s tooth violet because it’s a lily not a violet), Daphnes coming into bloom, the first rhododendron (possibly praecox?) a mass of pale lilac flowers. The crocuses and early irises are almost completely away, the snowdrops are going over, but the hellebores seem to be going from strength to strength and are a mass of deep purple and pale cream flowers.

Some of the shrubs that Don thought had in the winter are showing signs of life, while others he hoped had survived are showing signs of increasing stress.The lovely Olearia macrodonta (daisy tree) is almost certainly dead but is being kept in its present sorry state for a visit from BBC Beechgrove Garden in a couple of weeks for a programme exploring the ravages of the cold winter on the Scottish garden. However, there’s plenty of good news and slowly emerging new growth for an upbeat message.

Maintaining a garden nursery means a never-ending and logistically challenging set of tasks. Seeds are ordered, then successionally sown, pricked out and potted on. Seedlings and bulbs are gathered from the garden and potted on, some to be ready later this season, others for next year or in some cases for three to four years’ hence.

I had a lovely time digging up and potting clumps of Cochicum ‘Violet Queen’, some tiny Eranthis hyemalis (Winter Aconite) seedlings and a small clump of Hacquetia epipactis with some delightful little yellow flowers (it’s not quite the right time to be dividing this little perennial, but people apparently keep asking what it is and if they can buy some so worth a try).

The tunnels and glasshsouses are full of wee pots and the benches in the sales area are filling up with the unusual shrubs and perennials for which Abriachan is known.

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