When I plant a tree, I tend to like the ones that are self-sufficient because time isn't on my side, so if there is a lot of pruning or staking to be done then I would go for something a little less time-consuming.
Laburnum is one such plant; it is easy peasy to grow and it provides a fantastic display of flowers in late spring and early summer, then fades into the background until it has its turn again.
If you have the room, then plant one called Laburnum x watereri 'Vossii' Golden Rain. In full flower it has no competition and, under planted with either alliums or purple drumstick primula, it will be an amazing addition to your garden. This particular laburnum will get quite big to around 8m, so plant it as a perimeter tree or at the very back of a mixed shrub border in full sun. It has no real preference when it comes to soil type – as long as there is a bit of drainage it will do grand.
This is an ideal plant to train over a pergola; the yellow flowers are similar to those of wisteria and hang downwards, so it would be ideal trained over an arch, too.
If you have a young family then make sure you don't let children pick the flowers and fruit, as they are toxic when eaten. It is best to keep the base of the tree tidy, so remove any growth low down, keeping all the attention on the canopy of the tree.
If you are looking for something a little smaller then ask in your local garden centre for one called Laburnum alpinum 'Pendulum'. It will only reach a modest 2m, which is very manageable if space is limited.
If you are a collector of plants then add this next one to your list of must-have plants: +Laburnocytisus 'Adamii'. It looks like no great shakes until the very end of spring or very early summer, but then, as if by magic, you will notice that there are three different flower colours on this plant. The first is the obvious yellow associated with laburnum. Other flowers will be purple and some a pale pink.
We have one tucked away in the back of a border and it is now about 5m high, so it's in a perfect position to catch the afternoon sun and show off those incredibly unusual flowers. For the rest of the year, it really is nothing much to look at so give it a spot in the back of a border. It will get tall – to around 8m – so it won't suit every garden, but if you do have the space then treat yourself to this very special tree.
QDuring that spectacular spell of uninterrupted sunshine, I decided to have my breakfast, lunch and dinner outside, just to say that I was able to dine al fresco in 2013. I dusted the cobwebs off the chairs and, for a week or so, I thought I was on my holidays.
Having said that, being a gardener and sitting down isn't that compatible. You always have an eye open for things that need to be done and I tend to spend more time hopping up and down weeding, instead of just sitting there and relaxing.
QIf you have cyclamen in the garden, make sure you harvest the seed pods before they burst open. It doesn't really matter if you forget, as they will still seed themselves around a bit. After you pick them, leave them to dry for about a week before you sow them into trays or pots. You could scatter the seeds around your garden, under trees, but be careful you don't hoe them out later on.