Like a juggernaut, spring is now on a roll. A few nights of cold weather may put the breaks on, but nothing can stop it now. In the space of a week our coastal garden has become flushed with flowers. The echium is a foot taller and will soon be in full bloom, but not before the main season tulips which are already colouring up. I am particularly looking forward to T. ‘Flaming Spring Green’ as it’s the first time I have grown this dashing variety.
These early spring weeks are dominated by colours which might otherwise be considered brash and tasteless; royal purple, candy pink and, gaudiest of all, golden yellow. We are so pleased to greet our first flowers that we forgive them their coarseness, knowing that by the time our carefully devised ‘schemes’ come into being they will be long gone. I don’t normally opt for the bigger narcissi, but was tempted in autumn by a cheery portrait of N. ‘St Keverne’ above a mound of plump bulbs. These have emerged from their pots in rude health, sporting tens of classic yellow trumpets. Cheerful? Yes. Vulgar? Very probably, but they don’t half pack a punch on a dreary day.
Equally lurid are the waxy, improbably yellow flowers of Sophora microphylla ‘Sun King’. Possessing many attributes which make it superior to both forsythia and kerria, it’s surprising this shrub isn’t more widely grown. Seek it out and give it a try, especially if you have a dry, sunny spot at the foot of a wall. It can be trained or allowed to grow into an open shrub and is pleasingly evergreen and attractive to bees. Come rain or shine the flowers will come in March or April, hanging angular and golden like rays of sun.