Suddenly everything is lush and full. I looked back to last year's end of month view for May (this is one of the great things about this idea!) to see if my sense of an extra richness this year is borne out.
It is perhaps harder to tell in comparison with a smaller picture and enlarging the photo to the size I am using this year makes it lose focus. The hardy geraniums were further on last year (the faithful Johnson's blue is at the front) but the biggest difference this year is the alliums.
Last autumn I planted fifty allium Purple Sensation from Peter Nyssen in the side garden, split between the two beds. And they are a sensation and even fifty is not enough. In the autumn I will put some more in.
This is a good time of year in the side garden. The day lilies are just about to open and the oriental poppies are ready to flower. For a couple of weeks they will be stunning. Then they will need to be cut back and I will have the usual problem with how to fill the great slash of a gap they will leave. I had hoped to help this with a Miscanthus Kleine Fontane which should just now be beginning to send up its spikes of green but it is looking decidedly small and sad. I am also disappointed to find that the eremurus which were so spectacular last year have barely a flower spike between them. It is always hard to get things established up here and, while we wait the couple of years for new plants to settle in, it is very easy for them to be overwhelmed by the old stalwarts who have become tough as old boots. I think I need to police the toughies a bit more carefully when they have new companions. Perhaps they are a bit like hens, establishing a pecking order!
Out in the field the orchard is at an in between stage. The early native daffodils and primroses have long gone and the allium sphaerocephalon have yet to come. The meadow buttercups are out, holding their flowers high and dainty above their heads, so much more beautiful than their insidious creeping cousins, but the ox eye daisies which I had hoped would shimmer around the trees have not really established. There are a couple of small patches left from the ones I grew from seed and put in as plug plants last year but they have not spread. I think we left it a little too late to cut last year and then did not keep the grass short enough. I also suspect that I need to get yellow rattle going in here to weaken the grass. Still it is pleasure to walk through when the sun shines and the sorrel and long grasses brush against your legs.
This is a cheat's photo of the cutting garden! Only this one square of the eight is actually doing anything. The others are filling up, with dahlias and cosmos so far, but there is a lot of bare earth and we are a long way from flowers. This year I grew quite a lot of tulips for cutting in here and produced a much better show in April and early May than usual but there is quite a gap now until the sweetpeas start flowering and the annuals I sowed in spring are big enough to make an impact. I need to bridge the gap between May and July somehow - autumn sowings of annuals? biennials? Any ideas would be very welcome!
I haven't previously included this in the end of month view but I thought I would start showing the vegetable garden which has now become Ian's kingdom. The potatoes are filling out nicely, the peas and beans are in, there are brassicas under the protective mesh (the only way we have found to cope with cabbage whites) and sweetcorn has just been planted out. Beyond the grass path the world's largest rhubarb patch continues to produce and artichokes and onions are flourishing. I have reluctantly given up my attempts to grow asparagus. I love it. I would dearly love an asparagus bed, but after three years of trying I think I just have to accept that it doesn't like me.
And here is the first photograph of the new annual wildflower meadow (with thanks to Karen and to Sarah Raven for the inspiration) with some sign of life in it. Previously it looked like this:
The green netting was to discourage small boys and young dogs from running all over it. I cannot tell you how much work this has been and even now every time I go out I am pulling up small docks which are trying to establish themselves. Do you know the weasel phrase in all DIY books about decorating "Prepare and make good surfaces before painting"? There is a gardening version which goes something like "Remove all traces of perennial weed". Huh.
Anyway after hours and hours of digging up weed and raking and digging up again and raking again, we sowed a wildflower mix from Pictorial Meadows I muse about this area obsessively, returning again and again to watch for growth, wondering if there is too much grass, knowing that there is hogweed, trying to remove yet more baby docks. But if you look closely the new sweep of green looks like this:
Is the growth all too dense? You can hardly thin out a wild flower meadow! Please, please, please work and be, on the ground, something like the meadow in my head.
The sunny bank is looking good. Last year I bought the most beautiful iris at the Malvern Show, Black Swan. It had one solitary flower spike which was broken by some means (dogs, children, footballs, stray badgers) so I never got to see it. This year it is flowering spectacularly.
And here is the kitchen garden. I love May and June, and May and June in the sunshine are close to heaven itself, but it is raining here now and supposed to rain tomorrow from the forecast. With apologies to all those who were intending to do something to celebrate the Jubilee tomorrow, I welcome the rain. My garden needs it, a slow, steady drenching right down to the roots. And it means I can take a day off from looking at things in the greenhouse and wondering where to put them. Whatever you are doing this weekend, have a good one.
Thanks as always to Helen at Patientgardener for hosting the end of month view.