The Early April Garden

Last week we looked at the "ugly truth", moments in the garden that are less than ideal. This week we'll look at what's going well in the garden in early April. While many plants haven't emerged, most perennials are beginning to poke out of the ground and deciduous trees are at the very earliest stages of developing leaves for the year. Some woodland ephemeral plants are up and shining, too, and for now, the "lawn" is green, even if it is 50% clover, dandelions and other miscellaneous weeds.

One of our flowering cherries is in full, fluffy bloom. This is the tree that also has Clematis 'Minuet' (from the viticella group) growing up through it, you can just see a vine on the left.

Epimedium x warlyense is putting on a lovely show this year with its orange flowers. New foliage is also coming on which will replace the old tattered foliage of last year.

Berberis darwinii is an explosion of orange, its buds are just opening up. I have two of these in the garden and this is the year they decided to put on a big show.

A slightly wider shot of Berberis darwinii. They are more orange than this photo shows, by the way.

Spiraea t. 'Ogon' at the edge of a shady woodland area has quadrupled in size over three years. It's so cheerful, I really appreciate this deciduous shrub for its simplicity and ease.

Gentiana acaulis 'Holzmann' has been a reliable bloomer for me for a few years now. It's in the rock garden-area and is nearly covered up by other plants, but I found it this year thanks to this looker of a flower.

Uvularia - I have it listed as U. perfoliata, but it could be U. grandiflora. Either way, a sweet shade plant known as merry bells.

A wider shot of the new gravel path with our native dogwood Cornus nuttallii on the right.

Quince, this one is Chaenomeles x superba 'Hollandia' from Gossler Farms spring 2017. It's finally put on a bit of growth and gave me several of these gorgeous flowers.

Pulsatilla that was given to me at a garden blogger's swap.

Sedum confusum trickles down a rock wall in the rock garden.

Pulmonaria 'Benediction' in the shade garden.

Facilities Manager's favorite plant, Podophyllum pleianthum, is coming up!

As is Podophyllum 'Spotty Dotty'.

Salix eleagnos var. angustifolia in the center of the labyrinth garden.

The labyrinth garden is starting to wake up. The second Berberis darwinii can be seen in this shot on the left, behind it is the tower of Tetrapanax that is starting to sprout new leaves.

A new plant purchased last summer, Philadelphus coronarius 'Aureus' has golden foliage, so it is in part shade to keep the foliage from scorching in full sun. This philadelphus has sweetly scented white flowers reminiscent of orange blossoms. What a beauty this one is.

I think I have always liked Brunnera, but have never had it before this. I bought this for half price last fall and am very pleased with it so far. Brunnera macrophylla 'Garden Candy Sea Heart'. I'm not so sure how catchy that name is, but it's a sweet plant.

Primula 'Gold Laced', a gift from my boss a couple of years ago.

Our Michi Kosuge sculptures are settling in nicely among the sedum; they keep a dutiful watch on our sweet Lucy's grave just at the base of the oak tree under the ring of moss and branches.

Potentilla atrosanquinea 'Red' from work. It is a completely deciduous small scale ground-cover, so it's always a joyful occasion when new growth emerges in early April.

First up on the list of just a few of the many native plants we grow, from Xera Plants, is a native bleeding heart Dicentra formosa 'Langtrees' with silver foliage and white flowers. A great woodland or shade plant, it seeds around a little, but not too much and goes dormant in summer if no water is given, but for me it's been pretty much a spring-through-fall plant.

My two Ceanothus 'Blue Jeans' have never bloomed until this week. They really do look like faded blue jean color. 

Another beauty that caught my eye this week is Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Barry's Silver' - a form of our Port Orchard cedar that only reaches 5 - 6' high, although I have a friend whose specimen is more like 25' high. Mine has stayed small for many years. Here it sparkles in the late afternoon sun just after a brief shower.

Sidalcea campestris or checker mallow will soon bloom with non-stop spikes of pink flowers that help support pollinators. I found this at a native plant sale last year.

The native Camassia quamash is coming up! Hopefully flowers will follow shortly.

Our native dogwood Cornus nuttallii is blooming!

Ribes sanguineum or flowering currant - I have several of these throughout the garden and they are mostly blooming, although planted as bare-root trees, they take a little longer to get established.

Ribes sanguineum 'White Icicle'

A second R. sanguineum - this one caught the evening light just right.

In the beginning of this post I mentioned last week's "ugly truth" . . . that included a photo of Armeria 'Victor Reiter' that did not look good at all. This is just a week later - nature is amazing. They always come out of their funk for me rather quickly, just as I'm about to give up hope on them. The ugly truth is temporary.

I have many small plantings of our native redwood sorrell, Oxalis oregana throughout the shady parts of the garden. I love the fresh green spring growth.

Oregon grape, Mahonia nervosa, which was here on the property but since we've cleared blackberries and other unwanted plants the mahonia has thrived. We are thrilled. They are just starting to bloom, too.

Nature is wonderful. Despite the messy and less than pretty parts of the garden such as I showed last week, there is still so much wonder, so many beautiful moments to soak up. We've been doing that as much as we can between rain showers. It is April, after all. And you know what they say about April showers. Stay tuned for May flowers! So many are coming up, I'm excited to see what the garden will do this year and we're just at the very beginning of the season. This is the beginning of the fourth year for us, so many of those early plants are settled in and pretty much established. That's the first real layer of the gardens - those trees and shrubs that help establish the framework of the garden and direct it towards what it wants to be when it grows up. Here we go!

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, we love hearing from you all! Happy spring.


  1. I am drooling over that sedum, and also the Podophyllum pleianthum!! You have so many lovely plants in your garden - ours are just beginning to wake up here, and we have yet to have any trees leaf out. Soon! Meanwhile, I'll enjoy your lovely garden!

    1. The sedum ended up being a real tough cookie in this garden and so pretty. Thank you for your kind words, I hope your garden continues to wake-up and you have lots of time to enjoy it!

  2. Walking through your garden must be a daily joy this time of year, Tamara, with new surprises every day. You grow so many plants I can't but I love seeing yours.

    1. It's fun to see things emerge that I forgot planting, especially - but it's all a joy, to be sure ;)

  3. You have such a beautiful array of flowers blooming in your garden for so early in the year, some of which I've never seen. Very lovely.

    1. Thank you Cindy! Since I get to work for a very cool nursery, I have access to plants I've never heard of before, so I'm quite lucky (and addicted!).

  4. Things are really happening. Am especially taken with the labyrinth garden and am in the process of creating something similar. Yours is great inspiration!

    1. They are happening, aren't they? We're so pleased about it, too. I'm also happy you found some inspiration from the labyrinth garden - I get inspiration from gardeners all the time! That's what it's all about, sharing ideas. Cheers!

  5. I've been eyeing that primula for quite some time. The Sedum confusum is quite nice. I would love to see it when the Grevillea is blooming! Swoon!

    1. The primula is a very sweet little plant, worth adding if you can find one. Oh, yes - the sedum with the grevillea? Oh....that is a lovely sight. I'll post a photo when it blooms!

  6. Is it the Sedum confusum that you mentioned (above) that has been very tough in your garden? I think I'm going to try and use it in mass, so have been doing my homework.
    Another is the Sidalcea campestris...bought some at the SBWC sale too. New to me. Thanks for your report on it!

    1. Hi Alyse - Sedum confusum has been hardy for me, but not a super fast spreader so not the best for large mass plantings in my humble opinion. S. spurium is a very good candidate for mass plantings, though - I'll give you starts if you would like some. The Sidalcea - you're going to love it! It's tough and beautiful and native and attracts lots of pollinators!

  7. A walk through your garden is like walking through an arboretum filled with wonders of blooms.

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