May – Everything in the garden is blooming

It’s that time of year when everything takes off and if you dawdle, you’re left lying in a heap as your garden romps away without you.

Personally, I don’t mind too much at home. We stop mowing the grass, just cutting a few paths to the important parts – the bottom of the garden, the washing line, the oil tank – and let the grass grow. We’re getting more and more red clover which I’m delighted at and this year I have noticed cowslips naturalising in the grass, so I’m pretty pleased.

Here of course things are a little different. The garden needs to look good for all our visitors. Having said that, some areas are formal and therefore need to be immaculate, whilst others are meant to be more informal and relaxed. The trick is to make the garden flow, so you move from one area to another almost without noticing.

This time last year we were in the middle of lockdown, not getting back into the garden until June. Wild didn’t even begin to describe the sight that met my eyes when I got back.

Fast forward to this year and the garden is shaping up nicely. The plants arrive next week for us to begin to start planting the nature garden down in the bottom left hand corner. This area had become particularly overgrown but is now poised to be a model of decorum, well almost.

What it will do is show how even a small space can be of real benefit for nature, providing living spaces and sustenance for all bugs, invertebrates, small mammals and amphibious life. There are some native shrubs already in and they will be joined by other British natives but not necessarily the wild form.

We’ll be putting in plants that are not only great for pollinators and other beneficial insects but also look great. You could for example, plant the pretty wildflower Purple Loosestrife (Lathyrus salicaria), or you could plant the cultivar Lathyrus salicaria ‘Feurzekerze’ which is a great garden plant beloved of bees, butterflies, birds (seed heads) and other beneficial insects. It’s a win-win for everyone.

In other garden news, I’ve given the Physic Garden a thorough overhaul and new plants will be arriving soon for me to plant up. I’m now working in the Garden of Contemplation and have done something I’ve been meaning to do for the last two years – dug up the iris sibirica, divided it up and replanted it. There was so much of it, we’ve been able to pot a lot of it up and we’ll be selling it in our plant centre soon.

Meantime June is busy overhauling the White Garden and the volunteers have been busy in the Long Border making short work of lifting and dividing more Iris sibirica as well as Phlomis russeliana to spread along the border. They have done incredible work to really make this border sing for spring.

Now they’re turning their attention to the Hot Border and starting work on moving some of the plants around that have become a bit crowded. I may have said this before, but I honestly think one of the greatest of simple pleasure in life is looking at freshly turned earth, especially when you have dug it over yourself.

There’s something about making it easier for plants to come through: seeing the green points of this year’s growth poke through the dark soil. I love it.

I hope you’ll come and see everyone’s progress soon. The end of this month should see the Laburnum Arch arrayed in gold. In the meantime, stay warm everyone.


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