Spring flowers - my least favourites

by James Alexander-Sinclair

I think it is time for another deeply prejudiced personal rant about my least favourite plants.

Tulip tarda flowerI think it is time for another deeply prejudiced personal rant about my least favourite plants. Spring is, if not exactly just around the corner, then definitely packed, dressed and on its way.

With the spring comes the return to our gardens of colour and life; in the majority of cases this is to be welcomed. Hooray for the resurgence of tulips, whoopee for the return of the rose and yippee for the arrival of annuals.

However, there are some plants which I am not looking forward to seeing again. For example my heart sinks at the first flash of a forsythia - such a violent yellow (like being mugged by a sunbeam), such horribly knobbly bark and such extraordinarily dreary leaves for the rest of the summer. As well as these unedifying qualities it is unlucky in that its flowering coincides with the flowering of daffodils and by that time I have had enough of yellow.

I adore tulips. The photograph above, by the way, is of a species of tulip called tarda and is there, not because it is ugly but because it makes me feel better. There are some exceptions to my love of tulips: some have got a bit above themselves and, instead of elegant bowls, look more like samba-dancing sea creatures. You may remember a lady called Gertrude Shilling who used to appear at Ascot in a series of hats that were so extraordinary as to be very close to ridiculous (as well as being unsuited to wear in a stiff breeze); parrot tulips have the same combination of exhibitionism and impracticality.

Another shrub that makes my heart sink is the flowering currant with its limply hanging pink flowers. Not only is it extremely boring but the slightest contact with the leaves releases an unmistakable smell of cat pee. (I could just about accept Ribes sanguineum King Edward VII if I was tied to a chair and whipped with an electric flex).

I could go on but may come over as unnecessarily curmudgeonly. To conclude: any daffodil with pink in it should be burnt and wishy washy variegated phormiums should be recycled prior to germination.

However, I may well be mistaken...

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Gardeners' World Web User 25/03/2008 at 22:38

It's strange seeing other people hate all the beautiful colours on this earth and I have to say I love them all, soft and delicate bright and fiery and bold and garish and Oh! how a blind person would love to see all of these wonderful creations.

Gardeners' World Web User 26/03/2008 at 14:39

I enjoy James Alexander-Sinclairs' writing very much, and a great sense of humour too.

Gardeners' World Web User 27/03/2008 at 14:39

Horah to ridding the world of forsythias!!! I have just massacred mine and thank goodness i did. Hideous ugly plant.

Gardeners' World Web User 27/03/2008 at 20:53

Dear James, I love your turn of phrase (and actually enjoy being 'mugged by a sunbeam!) I even like forsythia's knobbly bark. Have to agree about the flowering currant, but haven't yet met anyone who likes - or even notices - the smell of Hypericum Hidcote foliage. I think it's lovely!

Gardeners' World Web User 27/03/2008 at 21:00

I LOVE daffodils but prefer the tete ta tete variety, love 'grape hyacynths'...yellow and blue together is the best sight of spring each year. However, I have to agree with the comments about forsythia and ribes.....but then again, any colour that marks the emergence of Spring....bring it on!!

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