End of month view for May

In May the weather took off and with it my garden: weeds, flowers, grass, everything suddenly galloping for the sky.


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.

Comments

  1. Gorgeous! And yes, I see many similarities with my garden, although mine's much tinier. I'll be curious to see whether you find your allium naturalizing as mine are. Mind you, mine have been in 6 or 7 years, and I've really only noticed them taking off this year.

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    1. Interesting to read your response and Mountainear's below. I had not thought that they might naturalise. At the moment the idea delights me but watch this space!

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  2. ....and next post, Elizabeth, I expect that you'll be introducing us to your Team of Gardeners! How on earth you manage all that land and keep the flower beds going - I am in deep admiration. Im not a gardener. My other half likes his veggies, I do the herbs and he plants the flowers I like - and a few I don't! but we have swathes of time when we just don't have much happening. We have never, despite a plethora of books, managed to do the all-year-round planting/sewing thingy. So we lurch from blooming lovliness to wispy untidyness to ...well, nothing very much at all. I have decided I am not going to lose sleep over it as there are ither things to occupy my time, so it is doubly pleasant to be able to gaze upon the fruits of other's labours! Thank you!

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    1. Wish I had a team of gardeners Lynne! We have help one day a week from David who cuts grass and hedges and prunes fruit trees in winter with great skill. All weeding, sowing, mulching, planting out, cutting back and grass cutting in the field is ours to do. We lurch too though! I just don't photograph the lurchy bits.

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  3. Gosh! (Exclamation mark definitely necessary here). To say your garden is looking really good is an understatement. There is so much I want to say and to comment on.

    Alliums are a blessing and a curse - what started out in a couple of borders as a generous purple wave is now a veritable tsunami. They threaten to take over - I have been too kind in the past to both dead head and hoe down seedlings. This year sees me on the Allium war path,

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    1. I am a bit amazed about alliums F. I like them so much it is hard to imagine too many but we do manage a great line in things going bananas up here so I can imagine that the day may come when I go on the warpath, but only with a great effort of will! Photos of yours please!

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  4. GAH!!! THE LOVELINESS!!!! Oh, and anyone overcome by allium can just send them on to me. I have nary a one.

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    1. If and when mine start dividing and naturalising I will save you some!

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  5. Thank you for sharing the progress of your garden, it looks beautiful, but as always it is hard to visualise its true feel, from individual photographs. Perhaps the docks in the wildflower meadow want to be there ? Anne Wareham told me that she used to admire a garden full of dock in the house next door to her in London. Perhaps when it is established they will blend in ?

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    1. Well the docks are a tricky issue. You only have to come here to see the vast areas where nettles, docks and other plants hold sway and I have been very laisser faire about that. I am trying some more active management in some areas following reading a book about meadow management by Charles Flower. We will see how it turns out!

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  6. Beautiful! The Lupins especially so (the snails always get to ours before they've even had a chance to flower)

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    1. I tried lupins in the side garden and they got eaten very quickly. As yet, the cutting garden is not so snail friendly!

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  7. Welcome back. The bits you have photographed look stunning!
    I lost the iris I bought at Malvern last year. Probably too wet for it. Oh well. If I get another I will just have to lift it for the winter.
    Hasn't stopped raining here today, but the garden will be very grateful.

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    1. Totally relentless rain here too but the garden really needed it. Just had a wander round in the rain and all sorts of things looking happier!

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  9. Elizabeth, I think that some sort of internet weeder must have just uprooted a comment I tried to submit.

    I wanted to tell you how much I admire your evolving garden, and how your beautiful photographs definitely show why you returned to your Welsh hills again.

    I'm also amazed that you all manage all this gardening without an extensive staff, and would love to put myself forward as a volunteer. (I have little recent gardening experience, would have a challenging trans-Atlantic daily commute, but am very enthusiastic and eager to learn.)

    xo

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    1. All volunteers gratefully welcomed Frances! You could stay over occasionally to reduce your communting time!

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  10. Your gardens are beautiful. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour!

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    1. Thanks Dimple! I have just come in from clearing nettles. You will notice I don't photograph them!

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    2. Well, I like nettles in their place, which is a wild, weedy area! But they do spread...

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  11. Your garden looks wonderful. I think you're right about how some plants like us and others don't. Common old garden geraniums love me -- but lupines hate me. I've tried and tried to plant them but they always disappear over night and I am left with pathetic little collections of twigs. Something must eat them but I've never been able to find out what. Snails? Rabbits? Dogs? Cats? No deer around here that I know of. But yours look wonderful. Thanks for sharing your beautiful garden with us.

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    1. I find that snails are keen on lupins so that might be it. I am always astonished at the difference in what grows where. Getting to know my own stony fast draining soil and what likes it has been an education!

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  12. Oh, Elizabeth - it looks gorgeous! So lush, and I am soooooo envious of your alliums, which obviously really like you and loathe me. I think I shall give up now... I can quite see why May and June are your favourite months; it really does look lovely.

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    1. I wonder if your soil is too moist for alliums? Bulbs of all kinds do well and many naturalise. I assume that is due to the good drainage. I did notice last year that some Cosmos sulphereus plants I gave Karen produced much bigger plants for her with a lot of foliage and less flower than mine. It might be one of the consolations of a less fertile soil up here!

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  13. Everything looks so lovely and you have done so well with your vast gardens.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

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    1. Thanks Maggie! On a good day it feels wonderful to have so much space. There are days when it does feel a bit too vast!

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  14. That big water tank in the kitchen garden is amazing, do you store water for the garden there? Ian's Kingdom made me laugh, it looks perfect and healthy, it also looks like a lot of work, doesn't it?
    The rest of the garden looks just beautiful and doubled in sized from the previous year! I wish you the best for your meadow, I have something similar in my mind too but I don't have the courage to start it...

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    1. Would love to know how you get on if you have a go at a meadow. It was a bit of a leap of faith to have a go and I don't know yet if it will work! Watch this space.

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  15. It looks lovely, and indeed so much fuller than the same time last year! The alliums are wonderful - I planted a few varieties here this year, and hope to add more next year.

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    1. Thank you. I am surprised at how much it has filled out this year. The native tree walk in particular has grown into itself in quite a sudden and unexpected way! Alliums are fantastic aren't they. I have mainly stuck to Purple Sensation and drumstick alliums this year but might branch out a bit if they are happy.

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  16. Oh, those irises are ravishing! I have lupin envy too - I must definitely include some lupins in this garden.

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  17. Lupins are easy from seed Chris! If you want some I will send you some later in the year, just let me know!

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  18. Wow! What a beautiful garden, it must keep you very busy. I love Purple Sensation alliums, they do give a garden the wow factor, and your lupins are such a gorgeous colour. The iris steal the show for me though. It's wonderful that it's flowering better than last year.

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    1. Irises really love to bake in the sun so it is in the hottest place I can find! Having said that, the ones at the other end of the bank are just as sunny and not nearly as floriferous!

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  19. Your garden looks fabulous especially the kitchen garden. The Purple Sensation seem to be really good this year, from looking rather unenthusiastic mine have suddenly blossomed into really big flower heads.

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