the May rush

sunset-cherry-plemAnd after April, when May follows, And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows! Hark, where my blossom’d pear-tree in the hedge Leans to the field and scatters on the clover Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray’s edge— That ‘s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over, Lest you should think he never could recapture The first fine careless rapture! And though the fields look rough with hoary dew, All will be gay when noontide wakes anew The buttercups, the little children’s dower —Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower! Robert Browning, Home thoughts from abroad ,1845.

The grass isrosebed carpeted with the lovely blossom of our Great White cherry-  the gales of the last two days have torn it down- but the pear blossom is still clinging to the tree. We have been away for a short holiday and in our absence dry, cold April became wet and windy May and suddenly everything is burgeoning into growth. From tidy clumps of fresh foliage with newly freshened soil between, the perennials have already attempted to fill their space and move in with the neighbours. south-border

Forget me Not has carpeted any bare soil, bringing the sky to earth. It will need thinning very soon as it swamps the lavender and lavender hates the close attention. I like the way it covers the bare legs of the tulips, and the white lily flowered Sapporo seems to float like sails on a sea above it. It has spread along the South border too, taking on the blue mantle from the earlier flowering pulmonarias and eclipsing their continuing show.   The rapid growth is a real surprise, but so welcome. It shouldn’t be as it happens every year, and yet somehow I forget how the rush happens. Everything was slow through April because of the cold frosty nights and virtual drought we experienced. While we were away, a very sharp frost scorched all the new top growth along the beech hedge, all the new shoots on the Pieris and the bronze baby leaves on my newly planted Katsura . I hope they will recover. And when we came back, things were most definitely on the move. The rain of the last few days has kick started the Spring.


Top:- Spring a Green, Sapporo, Queen of the Night Bottom:- Menton, parrot unknown, Angelique

There are new flowers everywhere, and the tulips have finally made a great show. I was afraid that going away at the end of April would mean the tulips would bloom in our absence but they are in their glory now. The early gregii species are finished but the main show are just about peaking now. My particular favourite is the lily flowered Sapporo, even lovelier than White Triumphator I think,  but the form and colour injection of Menton, a tall willowy beast, is pleasing too. It came as part of the “Pale flowered Mix” from Sarah Raven, and I will be adding to it this autumn. I was going to post pictures of the azaleas but they can wait for the next post – they will be around for a few weeks yet. Today is Election Day and in addition to voting, I shall be weeding and weeding and weeding and buying plants to fill my containers. Have an excellent May day, however you choose to spend it.

may flowers


The warm weekend over the holiday when we were in Hampshire finally unlocked the spring growth and although it is cool and  raining now, the growing season is definitely underway. We have been working in the garden and greenhouse preparing  growing spaces as well as growing the plants that will be put in them. And the weeds need catching now before they take over. It is staggering how quickly they grow from nothing to setting seed…much faster than the plants you want to grow!

Our flower garden is beginning to reveal its spring treasures. The rhododendrons are out now and the azaleas wont be long. There is a delightful little white rhododendron with yellow marks in the trumpets, pink in bud and opening to pure white. None of the rhododendrons are named so a visit to the nursery they were sourced from is on the agenda for the next month or so. Similarly, we will try to identify the magnificent cherry tree beside the front gates, although I think it is a Great White Cherry, Prunus Taihaku.

In the same border as the white rhododendron there is a clump of Euphorbia griffithii Fireglow. It is really striking and the bracts are every bit as colourful as a flower. I am thinking of pairing it with Stipa arundinacea, the Pheasants Tail Grass and may introduce a few geums to pick up the bronze/orange theme. The first geums are flowering- there are lemon ones and peachy pink ones so far, as anonymous as the rhodendrons, as well as Heuchera  “Bressingham hybrids”.

In a part of the herb garden there is Lily of the Valley in abundance, enough for posies for the house with the first Aquilegias. And close by I have planted the Tiarellas I bought at Exbury, where I can see them from the kitchen window. The Tiarellas are taking over from the winter flowering hellebores as a new love for the season. There were many different varieties for sale at Exbury, but I was very good and only bought two.

The most recent floral discoveries are a white dwarf bearded iris “Green star” and a lovely long spurred, small-flowered Aquilegia growing in the gravel garden. It is seedling gently around and seems to be coming true from seed.  Does anyone have any ideas about its identity or is it just a long spurred hybrid?

new-aquilegia new-aquilegia-interior

In other news, the chickens have settled into daily egg laying, dust bathing, slug eating and preening. Except for Maud, who hasn’t read the section in the manual about hybrid hens not getting broody. She very much enjoys sitting on everyone’s eggs each day, and fluffs herself up and hisses at me when I remove the eggs. She is, fortunately, far too well-mannered a lady to peck me and allows me to lift her out and put her in the run with the other two, whereupon she forgets about being broody until the following day, when we repeat the process. Of course, with no cockerel, she could sit until Forever and raise no chicks, but I am sure she would be a lovely mother.


Maud Speckledy