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I know i may be a little late with this, but better late than never. I don’t really know how it happened but one minute it was so cold that nothing was growing and the next second we were greeted with an almighty crescendo of spring colour all vying for our attention. March and April really have to be the month for Daffodil and Narcissi and if chosen carefully (and in a spring of average temperatures) the display can last successionally for many weeks. Here follows some of our favourites: As the name suggests, N. ‘February Gold’ is an early form (although it never seems to flower until early March in Cambridgeshire) and has a stately elegant quality. Next up flowering in late March is N. ‘Jetfire’, a smaller rockery type form ideal for use in pots, baskets and window boxes. We have found its vibrant yellow petals and orange trumpet to be quite weather proof in a british spring. Finally for now i have to include N. ‘Thalia’, a late narcissi, flowering in mid-late April with multi-headed white flowers. We try new varieties every year to add to the tried and tested so are already excited to see what the autumn bulb catalogues will have for 2014.

N. 'Jetfire'

N. ‘Jetfire’

With their delicate appearance you may be mistaken for thinking that bulbous Iris would be easily damaged, when in fact this could not be further from the truth. Flowering in late winter in February and March they are hardy through frost and snow. Planted back in autumn the bulbs slowly emerge and buds explode open with colours in every shade of blue (Iris retiliculata spp.) as well as purple (Iris ‘George’), yellow (Iris danfordiae) and almost white forms too. At arkley we find them very useful for underplanting deciduous shrubs such as cornus and roses and use them extensively for planted containers as shown below. Left undisturbed bulbs will last for many years and even naturalise well.

Iris reticulata with violas

Iris reticulata with violas

It may be cold and wintry outside but every garden should make room for a winter plant or two. Currently at its peak in several of our gardens is Garrya elliptica (the silk-tassel bush). It is a useful plant all year due to its dark green evergreen leaves but in January it is covered in shimmery metallic looking catkins which last for weeks. Whether left to grow into a freestanding large shrub/small multistemmed tree or trained flat against a wall as shown here at Darwin College it is a real showstopper at this time of year.

Garrya  elliptica

Garrya elliptica

It may be only the second week of January (and snowing) but Arkley has started a new project today. Cambridge university: Department of Engineering have asked us to improve their surroundings by renovating and replacing tired original plantings. We will of course be using a little Arkley flair in the redesign so be on the look out for year round interest, bulbs for every season and lots of colour!

Our delivery of summer flowering bulbs, corms and tubers has recently arrived. We received a large array of varieties including lilies, gladioli, cannas and dahlias. While some are being planted in your gardens as we speak, others have been potted ready to give your garden that much needed instant colour injection when most needed later on in the year.

The team at Arkley request your patience as we undertake a complete refurbishment of our website. When completed it will contain dozens of photographs from our own collection which we feel show you what Arkley is all about. We hope you enjoy browsing soon and come back regularly to see our news updates.