The photograph of the Paeonia is Paeonia Mairei, which is the first Paeonia to flower and has increased rapidly in our good soil in the paddock. It was a present from John Grimshaw who writes one of the best gardening blogs I have read. We have fallen in love with paeonies, their exciting red shoots as they emerge, followed by the most amazing flowers that you have ever seen. They really go back in time too. We have dug a semi circle in the paddock which is an excuse to grow several more of them. Mostly they have come from Binny Plants in Scotland. We are wondering as to whether they are going to flower this year. Sometimes I think this is one of the best things about gardening, the level of uncertainty each year, and not quite knowing what is going to happen.
The golden valerian phu aurea is also pictured. Bright gold for two to three months and then a small 3ft white flower which is very fragrant especially in the evening. Victoria Wakefield gave it to me originally, and I did not realise how special it was, now I really love it. Then its foliage dims down, and is at least an interesting shape. We have divided it a lot in a bed near the house, with species snowdrops next to it. It has red Paeonia shoots coming up near it which is promising, and clumps of Calamagrostis. Acutiflora Overdam. The Calamagrostis grasses are my favourites, as they are not too big and look good for a long time.
I think I have to say a small word in praise of species tulips. Where we have planted them they have spread hugely, liking some places better than others. They increase by runners, and are flowering in April when there is not that much else. We also plant tulips in the beds, and it is always exciting when they start to flower as the colours are so beautiful, and some tend to repeat much better than others. Viridiflora tulips repeat well, and are particular favourites of mine.