May Favourites.

I am joining in with  Country Garden blog where Gillian’s meme encourages us to share what is giving us pleasure in the garden on the last Friday in the month.  Loree of Danger Garden has a similar meme of favourite plants each month.  I am a day late because after gardening for eight hours yesterday, I was in no state to write a post. This is the time of year when everything seems to get out of control. May, of course is a specially beautiful month, giving us so many beauties to enjoy.  I will start with the bearded irises and in particular, one I am specially pleased with. It is my very own, as I arranged its parent’s marriage. It is the first to bloom, its four siblings look as if they will wait until next year. The mother was plain blue ‘Jane Phillips’.

Here is my baby, drumroll please.

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I was so excited until the father came into bloom and I realised how similar they are. I can’t remember his name. But all the same, I think my baby is more beautiful.

Father Iris

Father Iris

Irises are easy to hybridise and bloom in about three years so it is fun to have a go. I also have some Siberian iris seedlings coming along.
Bearded irises don’t last long, but they don’t all come out together, so the season is extended.


Tree peonies are easy from seed but you have to wait at least six or seven years for your first bloom. I have written before about the Paeonia rockii  I grew from seed, only to be disappointed that the expected white flowers with maroon centres were magenta. The bees get busy so you can never be sure what colour your blooms will be. Still, after eight or nine years, this one is looking wonderful and this year there are eleven blooms .

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I bought the seed from Chilterns seeds. Four germinated, but two were eaten by slugs. The other one has fewer blooms this year, but they are a pretty shade of pink.
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If you want to try growing them from seed you have to be patient. The seeds need to be left out in the cold for the first winter and for a year it looks as if nothing is happening, but with a bit of luck a root will be growing. You have more chance of success with fresh seeds.
Aquilegias of course, need no such pampering and put themselves everywhere. Sometimes in fact they place themselves in the perfect spot.


Thalictrums have similar foliage and seed around too. I love their frothy flowers.


Another plant which is easy from seed is Libertia grandiflora with its persil-white flowers. An Orlaya has seeded itself in front which is clever of it.
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By the pond, I love the creamy yellow flowers of Trollius x cultorum ‘Alabaster.

Trollius xcultorum 'Alabaster'

Trollius x cultorum ‘Alabaster’

Also by the pond is Ranunculus aconitfolius ‘Pleniflorus’ with Geum ‘Flames of Passion'(Goodness, who makes these names up?) The fern is the stately Osmunda regalis.
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From time to time, we all get beguiled by lovely blue Corydalis flexuosa, only to be disappointed when it disappears without trace. For a long-lasting blue Corydalis, ‘Spinners’ is the one to go for. It is a cross between Corydalis flexuosa and Corydalis elata. I love it.

Corydalis 'Spinners'

Corydalis ‘Spinners’

June is rose time but some of them are starting already. The David Austin Rose ‘Summer Song’ starts early and goes on and on.

Rose 'Summer Song'

Rose ‘Summer Song’

Some of my roses were here when I arrived and looked very sick. I was going to dig these three up, but with a bit of feeding and heavy pruning they look fine now.


May is the time for Azaleas and Rhododendrons which I can’t grow here as my soil isn’t acid enough. But I do grow the wonderful Azalea luteum in a pot so that I can enjoy its heavenly fragrance.

Azalea luteum

Azalea luteum

One of my favourite viburnums is the lovely Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’ which has an attractive tiered habit and snowy white flowers. Mine spreads out, wider each year, but so far refuses to grow upwards. It is beautiful though.

Viburnum plicatum 'Mariesii'

Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’

I have never been too keen on hebes as they remind me of municipal park planting. But I do have one special one from New Zealand which doesn’t really look like a hebe at all. It is called Hebe hulkeana. Thanks to my dear friend, M, who has shared so many of her treasures with me, for this beauty.

Hebe hulkeana

Hebe hulkeana

I will finish with just a few more May treasures which are delighting me at the moment.


Thanks to Gillian at Country Garden and Loree at Danger Garden for encouraging us to write about the flowers we are enjoying at the moment.

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57 Responses to May Favourites.

  1. Quel beau mélange de fleurs : les pivoines sont superbes, les allium, roses et lupins se marient avec grâce !!! I realy like your garden

    • Chloris says:

      Merci Christiane. Oui en effet, je suis particulièrement fiére de mes pivoines. J’ attendais si longtemps l’ arrivée des fleurs.

  2. Absolutely beautiful. It must be hard to go back inside!

  3. Wonderful, all this floral beauty makes up for winter! I love those Peonies – I have never lived far enough north to really grow any, the singles are outstanding.

  4. March Picker says:

    Gorgeous variety of blooms! Your garden is a wonderland.

  5. Pauline says:

    You have a wonderful selection of flowers, how wonderful to have grown your own tree peonies from seed, you must be very patient! My Viburnum plicatum Maresii also has stopped growing upwards and now just gets bigger sideways!

    • Chloris says:

      It is a long wait for tree peonies to bloom but worth it. I have a three year old that I have high hopes for, the seed came from a genuine Peaonia rockii grafted from Frederick Stern’s.
      Viburnum mariesii has a very spreading habit but it is so pretty.

  6. Loree L Bohl says:

    “It is my very own, as I arranged its parent’s marriage”…I love the way you worded that, and it’s a lovely Iris. I also think your Azalea luteum is a beauty!

    • Chloris says:

      I was thrilled with my Iris until somebody told me that they have one just like it. I thought each new hybrid would look different.. The Azalea smells fantastic.

  7. You have a wonderful collection of beauties this May. Peonies always inspire extreme envy on my part but I was also impressed by all the beautiful Iris and that blue Corydalis left me sighing. I’ve tried growing the latter but they don’t survive through the summer here.

  8. Tina says:

    You certainly have *a blooming garden*. I have an iris that looks exactly like the one in your first photo–I have no idea of its name as it was a passalong to me. The Thalictrums are stunning, I can see why you like them. Lovely, lovely!

    • Chloris says:

      Now that is crushing Tina. You have a pass- a- long exactly my very own, specially created baby? Back to the drawing board then. I want to create something unique.

  9. bittster says:

    May is indeed a wonderful month and your garden shows it!
    Funny how I’ve never considered trying an iris from seed… it sounds simple enough but I’m afraid I’d end up stuck with dozens of babies who just aren’t as bright as their parents, yet I’d feel obligated to care for them forever!

    • Chloris says:

      But it is such fun creating your own hybrids. I shall probably end up with far too many irises but the germination rate is not very high. I only got one baby from the last one I tried.

  10. mrsdaffodil says:

    How exciting to have baby irises! And the tree peonies, beautiful. I have two small tree peonies (rockii), far too small to bloom yet. I was inspired by a huge Paeonia rockii at the University of British Columbia Botanical Gardens–white flowers with maroon centres, just as you describe. Having seen your photos of the magenta flowers, I think I would not cry for very long if mine turn out to have magenta flowers, too.

    • Chloris says:

      The only way to be sure you get a genuine Gansan Mudan is to buy a grafted one. The bees have been at seed grown ones. Still they are all lovely.

  11. Cathy says:

    Thank you for sharing your bounty Chloris – and how exciting to be arranging marriages like this. I think you need to give your new child a name I know you can be relied on to come up with something appropriate! With serendipitious placing of aquilegias it’s as much the height as the colour, isn’t it? Many of the self seeded ones tend to be quite tall and look down on their neighbours

    • Chloris says:

      Well now that Tina has told me that my new Iris looks exactly like one she has, I won’ t bother naming it. I will just have to hope some of the others will be really different.. I am going to try again this year, it is quite addictive.

  12. Flighty says:

    What a lovely, and colourful, selection of May flowers. I admire anyone who grows less usual plants from seed, which often take a long time to germinate. xx

    • Chloris says:

      But it is such fun growing special plants from seed. I went to a Plant Heritage sale yesterday and the tree peonies were £45. I felt very smug that my beauties were grown from seed.

  13. Lovely as always! Until this post I thought that Libertia was an ornamental orange grass. I’ll be looking out for it now.

  14. Chloris says:

    The orange one is Libertia peregrinans. This one is a beauty. I will send you some seeds in the autumn. Please remind me, I forget what I have promised and to whom.

  15. Cathy says:

    Wonderful to see the new iris bloom! Never mind that it may look like Tina’s … I expect you have other babies coming along? What a great selection of May flowers, Chloris. I so enjoyed your Peonia rockii seedlings – the first may not be the white you expected, but it’s still a stunner. Interesting that although you say fresh seed is best, yours came from Chiltern. I must look out for the Corydalis ‘Spinners’. Maybe even I can manage to keep that one! Thanks for a look at the glories of your May garden.

    • Chloris says:

      I have a few Iris babies coming along but only a few seeds germinated and only one from last year’ s attempt. I have since found out that the seeds need lots of water in order to germinate freely.
      I only got 2 plants from the Chilterns Peony seeds. A friend gave me some seeds from a grafted genuine Gansu Mudan. They germinated freely but to my horror, all but one were eaten by slugs. This plant is now three years old and I have high hopes for it. I long for a pure white one with the maroon centre.

      • Cathy says:

        Interesting about the iris seeds and the moisture, Chloris. You may have encouraged me to have a little go myself. Sad to hear about your seedlings from the Gansu Mudan, but I so loved seeing the success stories you have produced. I still have fond memories of a ‘Rockii’ where I worked many years again. Once seen never forgot!

  16. Annette says:

    It’s interesting to see the difference in flowering times. I had Paeonia seeds but gave them away to people more patient than myself. The Iris is lovely indeed. You haven’t problems with Aquilegia disease, do you? I agree May is the time everything seems to overwhelm you and not only flower-wise. Thought I’m well ahead of everything but the rain has caused jungle-like growth. HELP!

    • Chloris says:

      No, as far as I know Aquilegia downy mildew hasn’ t reached Suffolk although it is in Essex, perilously close. It is a devastating disease, Aquilegias are the glory of the May garden. I grow my Aquilegias from seed, I don’ t want to risk importing it. I hate using chemicals and in any case, I don’ t think there is a chemical to deal with it.
      Oh dear, we had torrential rain last night accompanied by high winds,. My poor garden looks as if a tornedo has hit it.

  17. Julie says:

    Oh wow, how exciting to create your own Iris, I really like the lilac shade too, quite beautiful. Do you have a separate area to do this in – I am trying to imagine the organisation needed as you have so many beautiful projects and plants. I always love your tours, as you have so much to see.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Julie. No, to be honest, I am not very organised. You should see the state of my greenhouse! I keep the irises in pots until they are big enough to be planted out. I don’ t have many babies, germination was a bit sparse. I have since learnt that Iris seeds need lots of water. I will try again this year and maybe in the future I will need a special Iris bed.

  18. snowbird says:

    Eight hours gardening? Oh my word! You must ache in places you forgot to had! I love your baby, what a delicate, pretty colour, you must be proud….and growing tree peonies from seed, I salute you, they are just delightful. You have such an array of beauties here, but my favourite has to be Summer’s song, she’s gorgeous and I bet she has a lovely scent.xxx

    • Chloris says:

      I find these days that when I do 8 hours, I am good for nothing the next day. I used to wake up freshly minted the next day. Not any more.
      I am excited about Iris breeding, specially as it only takes 3 years to get flowers. Peonies take longer, but then you are doing other things while you wait. Fancy givimg it a try? I will send you seeds later if you would like a try.

      • snowbird says:

        I would just love seeds….only if I can pay for the postage this time though. Your other little beauties you posted are alive and thriving!.xxx

      • Chloris says:

        I will send you some seeds when they are ripe. Don’ t be silly, a few seeds don’ t cost much to post.

  19. I love the blue Corydalis! I saw some in a garden in Toronto and I immediately wanted some of my own, but it is not an easy plant to find in this area.

    • Chloris says:

      If you find Corydalis flexuosa bear in mind that it has no staying power. I don’ t know wnether lovely ‘ Spinners’ is available on your side of the pond.

  20. Cathy says:

    It’s all beautiful Chloris, but I do especially like that Viburnum with its layered look, and the blue Corydalis too. I have tried blue ones a few times without success so will look out for that one. A purply coloured wild one (C. cava) found its way into the garden this year though which will hopefully spread.

    • Chloris says:

      Corydalis cava and C. solida seed around readily. But C. Flexuosa is unreliable. That is why if you want a blue one go for ‘ Spinners’.

  21. Sam says:

    The tree peony is beautiful. How lovely to have your years of patience rewarded with such a magnificent outcome. And are those lupins I see in the final montage? My m-in-l gave us some last year but they’ve not come back. The slugs and snails got them. Your Geum is also lovely (but I agree about the name!). Have a good week. The forecast here is for grey, overcast-ness but little rain, so I hope to get some pressing garden jobs done.

    • Chloris says:

      I can’ t imagine you are getting many pressing garden jobs done today. If you are, you must be a hardier soul than me. Wind, rain, cold. Everything dashed, blown over and and limp. Awful, I think i will take up stamp collecting.
      I just have one clump of lupins because they remind me of my childhood. They are tricky though, if it is not slugs and snails, then Lupin aphid will often disfigure them.

      • Sam says:

        I braved the weather this morning to check on everything – a few casualties but mostly ok. It’s horrid out there so we’ve retreated indoors to plan our summer trip! Fingers crossed this weather will pass quickly and your plants will recover ASAP x

  22. Chloris, your garden is both prolific and stunning to see. That tree peony! And those irises! Wow.

  23. rusty duck says:

    Always a worry when you can’t remember your baby’s father’s name. Notwithstanding, she is indeed very beautiful and what fun waiting for her siblings to bloom.

    • Chloris says:

      You are quite right, it is irresponsible to forget the name of one’ s babies’ father. A proper breeder takes careful note of both parents. The trouble is I don’ t know the names of all my Irises.

  24. Christina says:

    Your baby’s father is indeed handsome, interesting that his characteristics are the stronger, it will be fascinating to see if all the babies are similar or whether they will be completely different. Your deep, deep blue Iris is rather special; my deep blue on didn’t flower this year I think it needs moving because its rhizomes have become covered with thyme.

  25. You are breaking my heart with the irises and peonies, two favorites that need more sun than my garden provides. But it is all magnificent and I relished the tour. Love the “passionate” Geum rubbing elbows with the Japanese maple too.

  26. Chloris says:

    Irises and peonies are a delight at this time of the year. They are the aristocrats of the garden.

  27. Hoe hoe grow says:

    A veritable feast, Chloris ! What a wonderful time of year it is, but I want to slow it down and freeze frame it, to make everything lasts longer, as each plant’s time in the spotlight seems so short.
    Everything is looking just gorgeous in your garden, and I quite agree that this is the time of year when the garden races away, without a backward glance.
    Trollius was in evidence at Chelsea this year, in the show gardens, and it was good to see this little used plant getting some well deserved attention.
    Your tree peonies are fantastic, and I am inspired to have a go, despite the inordinate patience needed.

  28. Wow, there is such a variety of beautiful blooms! Thanks for the tip on the blue Corydalis, Judy was just asking why we didn’t have one.

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