Bright and beautiful bold flowers of Camellias light up any border when spring is just in its infancy. Preferring an acidic soil, these evergreen shrubs originate from Asia and petals range from white, pink, red and yellow.
Originally cultivated for gardens in Japan and China there are now over 3000 varieties of Camellias. An extremely useful plant; not only as an ornamental plant, but their leaves are used in tea, their oil is used in cooking, cleaning, protecting and also as a medicinal anti-inflammatory.
The first ever Camellia seen in England was at Thorndon Hall in Essex in 1739. A single red and a single white variety. Thereafter with much cultivation, the Camellia was seen as the luxury flower by the 1840s.
Bright yellow daisy-like flowers with heart-shaped foliage, Doronicums or Leopards Bane, belong to the same family as sunflowers, Asteraceae and are one of the first herbaceous perennials to light up borders in the spring. Dead-head and they will continue flowering through to mid-summer.
Surprisingly not native, but have settled well here in Britain, and are believed to originate from Europe, Southwest Asia and Siberia. Doronicums are happy in sun or partial shade such as a woodland environment. Tall varieties also make a great cut flower.
As an added bonus, these wonderfully cheery flowers also attract nectar eating insects such as bees. A word of caution though as all parts of this plant are toxic to humans so wear gloves when handling.
White petals of dainty-like snowdrops appear in January and February amongst woodland debris, and when temperatures rise a little, some exude a delicate honey-like perfume like no other. Varieties run into their thousands but take a closer look, and each plant differs, from their form to their distinctive markings. Most have an average height of 20cm but by planting in drifts, they are a wondrous sight.
Believed to have been introduced from Europe into England in the sixteenth century, snowdrops seem to have settled here nicely. They are best suited to a woodland environment with well drained soil. Snowdrops pop up each year and spread and multiply over time naturally.
These little gems are said to symbolize hope and purity, something we could all probably do with right now.