My Perennial Garden in April

My Perennial Garden in April



   I am writing this in early April. My perennial garden really starts to come alive now. Most of the herbaceous plants have come back stronger and larger, as they do each year. My assortment of spring blooming bulbs have survived and are starting to show colour. The crocus are still blooming and the Daffodils are budded and showing some colour. My Favorite Daff is an old variety called Ice Follies. The deer always leave my Daffs untouched and if I get the Bobbex spray on the Tulips early enough the deer will leave them alone too.  While the Hellebores started blooming in March they are outstanding in the Okanagan in April. They are a favourite of both Ken and I, we grow lots of them. I always add a few Hellebores each year and look for something new and interesting. The Hellebores are not impressive at first but like a fine wine get better with age. After a few years they really blow you away with their showy blooms. My sweet little Scilla and grape Hyacinth’s bulbs are in full bloom in the sunny spots. I love their cheery purple and blue blooms. When they go to seed a bit later in the season I sometimes collect the seed and scatter it here and there and hope they take. After a few years of doing this I end up with naturalized drifts of these pretty flowers in random locations in my garden. We also did this process with some Allium christophii.  Ken scattered seed in and around some of our shrubs and they have now naturalized and are quite attractive peeking out from under the Barberries. They are cool little plants to my eye. Very short and very sweet!



   My Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra spectablis and Dicentra aurea)  both the golden and regular types are up and looking great! They will be both blooming like mad by the end of April. Dicentra aurea are dramatic even before they start to bloom because of the golden foliage.


   Aurinia (formerly Alyssum saxatilis) is bursting forth with the most vibrant yellow blooms in the garden. The buds stand up on fuzzy silver leaves and cover a space of about 24 inches for each plant.  This tough garden perennial is easy to grow and requires little water or attention. I just trim it back a bit after the spring bloom is done.  Aurinia blooms along with Arabis with Aubrieta a week or two later. Both Arabis and Aubrieta are low growing, spring blooming perennials that deliver a punch of colour in April.  I love to plant early Tulips and other bulbs in amongst these ground covers for a great combination so to maximize the show in spring. Another good plant to add to this mix is the Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata). It’s a low creeping plant that comes in many colours but my favorite is "Emerald Blue" it’s a strong bloomer, goes well with the Aurinia and is more disease resistant than the other Phlox’s in this group.


   My Brunnera variegata always surprises me with how quickly it comes up and gets blooming each spring. It’s lovely airy stems of forget-me-not like blue flowers take us from April into May.  I like the combination of Brunnera with Bleeding hearts they go nicely together.


   April is the month that I change, replenish and improve my garden with new additions. This month I will be planting several more clumps of Liatris spicata. They are available as spring bulbs in bags of 10 or 20 at a reasonable price. I am also adding more lily bulbs as I cant get enough! Im putting in more Salvia "May Night" because they bloom early and perform so nicely for me in the hottest spots in the garden.


   One of my favourite plants for out hot bank is Santolina tomentosum.  Its bright silvery foliage lights up the garden from now through fall, no flowers necessary. While it does bloom a mass of tiny bright yellow flowers I mostly love it for its foliage.   

   April is a busy month for me, planting the vegetable garden, buying plants for our business, planting perennials and playing in our greenhouse. I am having fun!


Happy gardening everyone!


Wendy Salvail