Let me show you a 'Branklyn Garden Spring' set of photos.
Nestled into the slopes of Kinoull Hill and overlooking the River Tay and Perth is Branklyn Garden. It belongs to the National Trust of Scotland besides it's a garden that holds a few National Collections.
Furthermore there are plenty of rare and unusual plants growing there too.
At this time of year the garden is just bursting with colour from the spring flowering woodlanders. Pathways are lined with hellebores. While drift after drift of soft lemon oxslips meander through the borders. In addition pockets of corydalis in shades of lilac, white and pink are scattered among the trees.
Furthermore many of the rhododendron and trillium flowers are just emerging from their buds. The prunus trees are exuberantly coming into flower. While the upper canopy of leaves from the many maples and birches are just beginning to unfurl.
There's a tapestry of colour from the primula, anemones, chionodoxa, scilla , pulmonaria, and muscari. Moreover if you look a little closer you'll find little jewels like hacquetia, hepatica and various erythronium and much more.
All against a backdrop of a large alpine rock garden and many shades of green and blue from the conifers.
“Is the spring coming?" he said. "What is it like?"...
"It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine...”
~ Frances Hodgson Burnett,
A Branklyn Garden Spring
Many of us struggle with continuity of flowering in the garden. However Branklyn Garden is a great example of spring and summer planting growing practically in the same area. Many of the spring plants go dormant over the summer months as the much larger perennials take their place. Consequently those larger plants provide shade for the spring ones like the primula that don't have a summer dormancy period.
Noel Kingsbury wrote on a similar topic called The Joys of Spring where he referred to it as 'neat complementarity'.
His 'neat complementarity' is really all to do with planting in layers. Starting off with the larger summer perennials as the main display in the garden. Then planting the spring layer of plants and bulbs around those summer perennials. Because these plants have different growth cycles and flower at different temperatures they are so much easier to integrate together. As the spring woodlanders die back the summer perennials are only starting to produce their new growth of the season.
The earliest pioneer of this style of mixed border planting was Gertrude Jekyll. Likewise in our generation it was the late Christopher Lloyd.
Without our sights always focused on getting best value over a long season - the ethic of 'I'm not greedy but I like a lot' - we constantly plan so that when a plant has its off season another takes over. ~ Christopher Lloyd from his book 'Succession Planting'.
In Christopher's book he tells us that we need to consider the vigour of both the spring and summer plants. In other words ...before we plant them together! Some plants just detest the competition.
For example he warns of the broad leafed spring daffodils. These are like thugs in the garden and are virtually impossible to integrate close by with summer perennials. He suggests growing alliums with late summer Japanese anemones. Spring bulbs with geraniums and small leafed narcissus with hemerocallis to name just a few.
Over the late spring and summer season I hope to get back to Branklyn Garden. I want to see how they integrate their planting with the seasons and take home a few ideas for my own garden!