Plants to look for in April

This Spring has been considerably warmer than the previous year and many plants are flowering well in advance of what might be expected. These are some of the plants featured as previous April Plant of the Month <
Acer negundo - S Turner Azara microphylla - K Keeton Chaenomales speciosa 'Moerloosei' - S Turner Chaenomeles x superba 'Rowellane' - A Hunter Corylopsis pauciflora - S Turner
Acer negundo
Acer negundo (Box elder) near the magnolias on the Rose Lawn has its (arguably only) moment in April with the appearance of delicate, pendent male flowers. This tree, widespread in the US and introduced in 1688, used to be tapped for maple syrup.
Azara microphylla
One can be forgiven for passing by these large shrubs/trees, as you exit the Garden down the path towards Thompson Road, without a glance. Only at this time of year, and particularly on a warm spring day, will you wonder what the beautiful smell in the air is. The gorgeous aroma is of vanilla, and one would hardly guess comes from the minute flowers of the Azara microphylla, an evergreen tree originating from Chile and Southern Argentina. The Azara is an elegant small tree situated along the left hand side screening the bin area. It has large sprays of dainty foliage, bearing masses of small, fragrant yellow flowers in April and May. It was introduced in to England in 1861 by Richard Pearce a Victorian plant collector who worked for the James Veitch nursery in Exeter.
Chaenomales speciosa 'Moerloosei'
This variety of flowering quince is planted against the wall of South Lodge. Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Moerloosei’is not only most attractive, but it has a long flowering period. Its synonym, ‘Apple Blossom’, well describes the prettiest pink and white flowers, borne before and with the leaves which are tinged red when young, maturing to shiny green. The species, introduced from China in 1784, is in the rose family.
Chaenomeles x superba 'Rowellane'
Another fine hybrid quince, the darkest red Chaenomales x superba ‘Rowallane’, grows in a low mound across the path from South Lodge on the left of the yard gate. It is possible to cook the aromatic fruits of the flowering quinces, but it is from the fruit of a tree of a separate genus, Cydonia oblonga, that quince jelly is commonly made.
Corylopsis pauciflora
This delightful plant usually puts on its show after the winter flowering shrubs have finished and before most spring ones have started into flower. Ready to come into full bloom with a couple of warm days, Corylopsis pauciflora is an eye catching little shrub at the steps going down to the water garden, opposite a Weigela bed. It is covered in delicate pale yellow, scented flowers, 2 to 3 in each raceme, hanging from slender stems. The leaves appear after the flowers and are at first coppery pink. The other members of this genus have more flowers per raceme, hence the species name 'pauciflora' or few-flowered, but this is only relative. Robert Fortune introduced C. pauciflora in 1860. It grows wild in scrub and forest edge in Japan and Taiwan, though in Taiwan it is at risk.
Magnolia stellata - K Keeton  - K Keeton Stachyurus praecox - K Keeton
Magnolia stellata
Magnolia Collection, north of Rose Garden
Some Magnolia cultivars may appear too large for the average garden, but one of the most exquisite species is Magnolia stellata, with its rounded, compact habit, may be easily grown. Combined with the vibrant blue of the Anemone blanda this shrub makes a perfect picture.

Magnolia x soulangeana
Magnolia x soulangeana is a hybrid raised in the garden of Soulange-Bodin at Fromont, near Paris, from seed borne by Magnolia denudata fertilised by pollen of Magnolia liliiflora. The plant first flowered in 1826, and has since become the most popular of all magnolias in European gardens. M. denudata originated from China and was introduced in 1789. Magnolia liliiflora was found in Japan in 1790, but is thought to have originated in China. The flowers are large, tulip-shaped, white, stained rose-purple at the base and appear during April before the leaves.
Stachyurus praecox
The deciduous shrub, Stachyurus praecox, stands in the first bed as you enter the Robert Marnock Garden, a rather sheltered place. Now well established, the plant shows its full beauty with its stiffly pendent racemes drooping, with cup-shaped pale yellow flowers. Introduced from Japan in 1864, stachys meaning 'ear of corn' in Greek, and oura 'a tail', from the form of the racemes of these shrubs. Praecox meaning 'very early'.