What’s Gorgeous in the Garden in April and May?

Dog’s-tooth-violet, Erythronium dens-canis

Erythronium is a bulbous perennial with a leafless stem bearing one or more nodding, star-shaped flowers with recurved petals which resemble shooting stars. Growing to 25cm in height, it is perfect for growing at the front of a shady border in moist soil, and can also be grown through thin grass. It is native to central and southern Europe from Portugal to Ukraine and would not look out of place in a wildflower patch in the garden.


Aquilegia is a low maintenance, spring flowering perennial whose common name is columbine or Granny’s bonnet. Aquilegia has attractive leaves at the base of the plant, with a long stem supporting delicate, nodding, bell-shaped flowers which can be single, double, and more in the unusual spurred varieties, with colours ranging from white through pale yellow to purples, blues, pinks, and reds. Best suited to sunny or semi-shaded positions, aquilegia will grow on most soils but prefers not to dry out in summer. It will self-seed so is great for a naturalistic planting scheme and the nectar-rich flowers are attractive to bumblebees. 

Flowering currant, Ribes sanguineum

The common Ribes sanguineum is one of the toughest flowering shrubs you can plant and, like a number of spring flowers, the small tubular or bell-shaped racemes of flowers come out ahead of the leaves in shades of pink and red. Generally compact and upright in habit, it will grow in most soil types, even in clay.


Magnolias are beautiful shrubs and trees that bring a touch of glamour to the garden in their tulip or star-like flowers, ranging in colour from pure white through pink to deep magenta, and even yellow. Slow growing, a magnolia tree or shrub is a long-term investment – it can take 10-20 years to reach its ultimate size and smaller varieties grow well in pots. It prefers neutral or acidic soil in a sheltered, sunny spot, away from strong winds. Avoid frost pockets, as frost can damage the flowers in spring.

Cherry Blossom Tree

Most cherry blossom trees bloom for one to two weeks before the pink or white blossom falls like confetti. Strong winds can strip a tree of its blossom earlier so position it in a warm, sheltered, frost-free spot in well-drained, slightly acid soil. The cherry blossom, part of the genus Prunus, has been celebrated for many centuries and holds a very prominent position in Japanese culture. Cherry trees come in a range of shapes from upright to spreading or weeping and, in smaller gardens, many flowering cherry trees grow well in smaller pots.

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