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Spring flowers, daffodils in Meudon Gardens

6th March 2023

Notes from the Garden

This is a truly wonderful time of year to be in and around the nine acres of garden at Meudon, and I feel truly blessed to call this my workplace! With sweeping carpets of emerging bluebell leaves covering the ground, and the scent of young, wild garlic in the air, there are tangible signs that this is winter’s last hurrah and springtime is arriving. As spring flowers are an incredibly important food source for early emerging insects like bumblebees, solitary bees, hoverflies and some butterflies, the garden is alive with activity. The nectar of these flowers is a lifeline for insects early in the year and the flowers in turn rely on the insects for pollination.

Taking a walk through the Hotel Meudon garden this month, one is rewarded with the glorious, life-affirming sight of seas of snowdrops (Galanthus Nivalis) which have already been flowering for several weeks and will continue to bloom into March. Also present are the similar-looking summer snowflakes (Leucojum Aestivum), which are distinguishable from the snowdrop by the green spots on the end of their petals, which are an even length.

There are many primroses throughout the garden; their name derives from ‘Prima Rosa’, which means ‘first rose’ and feels very apt, as they will flower from December in milder years and range in colour from a deep red to almost white. These native plants can flower through to May and are an important source of food for the beautiful brimstone and small tortoiseshell butterflies. There are few plants that symbolise the arrival of spring more than the daffodil (Narcissus) and there is always a feeling of excitement when they start to flower like little yellow trumpets, loudly announcing the change of season. There is only one daffodil that is native to the UK: the Lent lily (Narcissus Pseudonarcissus), but this flower has become so popular and desirable in the last 200 years that thousands of cultivars have been selectively bred. There are many different varieties, which can be found throughout the garden – see if you can spot the differences!

Spring flowers, primrose in Meudon Gardens

The nectar of the grape hyacinth (Muscari Arenaicum) is coveted by bees at this time of year, particularly the rather lovely named hairy footed flower bee (Anthophora plumipes). Although there is a wild grape hyacinth native to the UK, it is nationally rare and the south-eastern European variety Muscari Arenaicum is more commonly seen in gardens. Many plants that are seen as weeds are also actively allowed to flourish as they represent important sources of food, such as the often overlooked, but beautiful and bright yellow, dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale). Although a dandelion looks like one large ‘flower’ it is actually dozens of individual florets (think mini flowers) all grouped together on one head, producing a vital, concentrated source of nectar and pollen.

Grape Hyacinth Meudon gardens LOW RES

As you walk through the lower garden you may notice areas of long grass that have not been mown. These spaces are particularly dense in a wonderful array of wildflowers, and have been allowed to flourish and flower in order to fulfil their role in the yearly cycle of the seasons. Look out for crocus, hellebore, speedwell, heather, daisy and violets, Of course, while strolling the meandering pathways that weave their way through this stunning garden, your eyes can’t help but be drawn to our large exotic flowering trees and shrubs like rhododendron, camellia and magnolia.

Crocus Meudon Gardens

Soon the bluebells will flower, representing the next phase of the changing seasons and adding more riotous, vivid colour to the tremendous colour palette that covers Meudon Garden. Don’t miss the chance to come and visit the garden this spring and make the most of this very special, seasonal display – and if you see me working away, be sure to say hi!

Head Gardener

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