The first week of April is when fools rush in and plant warm season crops and flowers outdoors much too early. Wait until mid May when all danger of frost has passed before letting heat-loving tomato starts, squash, coleus, marigolds and impatiens spend the night outdoors.
The beginning of April is the perfect time to add bare root berry bushes, new trees and shrubs and some very proper new roses named in honor of TV characters and famous show gardens in England.
I’ll be hosting a Downton Abbey Garden party this spring in honor of a group tour to enjoy the gardens of England and so I’ll be planting these for an English theme garden:
New Roses Celebrate “Downton Abbey”
The British period drama “Downtown Abbey” may have finished up its spectacularly popular run, but gardeners can still enjoy reminders of the TV characters with two new roses introduced by wholesale grower Weeks Roses and offered the spring by different retail outlets.
Pretty Lady Rose Bud – A Hybrid Tea that will turn heads
This hot pink rose has more than 60 petals per bloom giving it the double flowering, old fashioned charm of an old English rose with the intense pink color of the young and carefree American character, Lady Rose that added plenty of drama on the “Downtown Abbey” TV screen.
Tip: Plant a dwarf clematis such as Cezanne, a lovely lavender repeat bloomer at the base of Pretty lady Rose and let it twine through her tall stems so they can flower together. In the TV series, Lady Rose had plenty of suiters entwined within her arms – and she preferred the artistic type.
Anna’s Promise – A gold and peach grandiflora rose
The character of Anna in the “Downton Abbey” series is loyal, hard working and dependable. This new rose with a peaches and cream color combo was bred to be much the same.
Large blooms means Anna will show promising summer color and flowers perfect for bringing indoors – and as a lady’s maid in the big house, Anna the TV character would have made sure there were fresh flowers on M’lady’s dressing table.
More plants with names that honor English Gardens:
Lavender ‘Hidcote Blue’ is named after the Cotswold show garden of Hidcote still visited by throngs of tourists to view the garden rooms of this estate garden each with it’s own color or flower theme.
Today you can still find Hidcote blue lavender at local nurseries as this compact but colorful lavender variety is used as a drought resistant perennial to form hedges and provide fragrant blooms.
Growing tip: Do not water your lavender plants once established. They do best in dry soil with good drainage.
Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’
This silver foliage perennial is named for an ancient castle with show gardens in northern England showcasing terraced garden beds that overflow with color. The gray foliage offsets the bright blooms of red, orange and purple flowers at the real Powis Castle but you can use this same design trick to highlight colors in your own humble garden.
Just plant this drought resistant artemisia in bed with geraniums, salvia or petunias and see how it amps up the color tones of anything blooming nearby. It’s a bedmate to make any royal matchmaker proud.
Sea Holly Giant Eryngium ‘Miss Wilmott’s Ghost’
‘Miss Willmott’s Ghost’ is the name of this prickly, gray leaved but astonishingly beautiful blooming perennial that blooms late with conical flower heads of pale green turning purple and surrounded by outlandish silver bracts. The plants are short lived but they reseed readily.
The name honors the crusty and often prickly British millionaire gardener that was insulted by the British Royal Horticultural society when told that as a woman , she was not allowed to join their prestigious club. (This was more than 100 years ago.)
Legend says that to get revenge on the “ old boys” network she spread the seed of sea holly into the tightly controlled beds of her would-be colleagues and thus this unusual flower pops up and haunts the gardens of English estate properties still today. The silvery white foliage is a ghostly reminder of Miss Willmott and the fury of a woman scorned.
Marianne Binetti will appear at the Northwest Women’s Show at CenturyLink Field Center offering “Tips for Dirt Cheap Gardening” at 1 p.m., April 15.