Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May…..

Trust Shakespeare to hit the nail on the head, he was a keen observer of nature. We are getting strong May winds tonight which are following on from an almost entirely rain-free April with constant frosts, so many gardeners are feeling a little disgruntled. But my precious tree peony, Paeonia suffruticosa which I grew from seed is quite unperturbed by the winds, but I wish it would get warmer because I can hardly wait for the nice fat buds to open.

Paeonia suffruticosa

The charming, cerise Paeonia mascula is already showing pink. This is native to Southern Europe and has single scented flowers.

Paeonia mascula

I was thrilled to discover a couple of seedlings nearby and so I have carefully dug them up and put them in pots. As I also have the pale lemon Paeonia mlokosewitschii or ‘Molly the Witch’ as she is often called by people like me who cannot remember her correct name, I am not sure what colour the flowers will be. I grew some of Molly’s children on a few years ago and they turned out to be various shades of pink.

Paeonia mascula seedling.

Many of the darling buds of May are now tender new leaves and their freshness and gorgeous colours make the heart sing. The new leaves of acers are often dazzling in their intensity. Here are a few, the others are still in bud.

But for impact in spring, Acer brilliantissimum is well named for its intense shrimpy -coloured leaves. This tree is one of the plants I am grateful to my predecessors here for and I like the way it is planted as a group with the silvery leaves of Whitebeam, Sorbus aria behind and Amelanchier lamarckii to the side with its white flowers and bronzey leaves.

This is another Amelanchier lamarckii which I coppiced because I wanted a multi-stemmed bush rather than a tree in this spot. The flowers don’t last long but the foliage is pretty and colours well in autumn.

Amelanchier lamarckii

Talking of lovely leaves, Acer brilliantissimum often has seedlings which look as if they would grow into ordinary sycamore trees if I left them. But I was delighted to find this seedling the other day which looks as if it will make a lovely tree one day, but it is nothing like its mother, I don’t know how that happened..

Acer brilliantissimum seedling

I also love the dazzling spring leaves of Photinia x fraseri ‘Pink Marble’. The one you usually find is ‘Red Robin’ which is lovely but I love the variegation on this one.

Photinia x fraseri ‘Pink Marble’

I could go on and on talking about leaves and buds but I would like to show you a few flowers which are lovely right now, May blooms are so fleeting. Most of my magnolias are over now but the primrose yellow’ Elizabeth’ is always later and what a good thing as I should hate to see her lovely flowers browned by frost.

I have quite a few crab apples and some of them are still in bud. But I don’t think any of them can compare with Malus ‘Princeton Cardinal’ for sheer flower power.

Malus ‘Princeton Cardinal’
Malus ‘Princeton Cardinal’

My favourite May shrub is Exochorda ‘The Bride’ which has long lasting snow white flowers and I think the bush is such a pretty shape.

Exochorsa x macanthra ‘The Bride’

The flowering currants are just about over now but I have an unusual member of the Ribes family growing against my front wall. Everyone thinks that it is a fuchsia because it has dangly flowers like drop ear rings. It is bright scarlet and so really eye-catching.

Ribes sprciosum

The lilacs are coming out now and they of course smell divine but Viburnum burkwoodii smells wonderful too. This one came from a cutting from my previous garden but it is now mature and blooming profusely. It smells a little like furniture polish, but in a nice way.

Viburnum burkwoodii

I really should include a climber in this early May round up and Akebia quinata is a favourite with flowers that smell of chocolate. I have the cream form as well but it is not as striking as this one.

Akebia quinata.

Last year it produced a large lilac seed pod and I sowed the seed in a pot without labelling it and forgot about it. I ended up with a mystery plant which baffled me for a while until I realised it is a young akebia plant, I wonder if it will come true from seed.

It seems churlish not to mention the tulips which are looking wonderful right now but perhaps they can be for another time. Instead I will finish with my very first irises in bloom which are the rare Iris bicapitata from the Gargano peninnsula in Italy. I fell for this iris when I saw vast swathes of it growing wild .

Iris bicapitata
Iris bicapitata

May is such an exciting month as new blooms are appearing every day. Let’s hope we will get some warm weather to enjoy them soon. And above all, some rain. We are supposed to get some rain tonight and this sky looks as if we might; but I am not holding my breath, it always seems to pass us by.

The tree is the double form of the wild cherry, Prunus avium ‘Plena’, it is one of my favourite cherries.

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36 Responses to Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May…..

  1. bcparkison says:

    Every thing seems to have popped all at once this Spring..

  2. Anna says:

    Oh I hope that the rain reaches you tonight Chloris. It has poured down here most of the day and has been rather windy too. The rain was most welcome as it has been so dry for a long spell which is unusual for north west England. Cold too especially at night đŸ˜¢ Your baby acer looks most promising and interesting to hear that Molly’s offspring were pink. Will you do anything to protect the the acer whilst it grows? Your beautiful crab apple is most tempting indeed – such beautiful flowers and foliage.

    • Chloris says:

      We have had rain at last and hail and fierce winds. I have dug the little acer up and put it in a pot. Yes, I have several crab apple trees but this one wins the prize.

  3. Cathy says:

    Your posts are always an inspiration Chloris as you seem to think of everything…. folaige, seasonal interest, buds and flowers. The crab apple is a wonderful sight. I have been thinking of planting either a crab apple or a cherry. I think I might just plant both!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Cathy. Crab apples are good value with beautiful blossom and attractive fruit later. I love them all but this one is my favourite.

  4. Catherine Doran says:

    Your Malus Princeton Cardinal is a gorgeous colour, my Malus Evereste is smothered in pale pink flowers and every time I go near it there is a loud buzzing and huming from all the insects that are enjoying it as well.

  5. Many of those spring showers seem to pass us by, too. This year has been no exception. Maybe that’s why our flowering trees, from dogwoods to lilacs and saucer magnolia, produced such skimpy blooming. Oh, well. We do the best we can.

    • Chloris says:

      Yes, we do the best we can. If we have gardens of any size we are at the mercy of the weather. It is just not possible to water everything and how weird to need to water in April.

  6. Kris P says:

    Your garden is glorious in every month, Chloris, but I know spring is special for so many reasons. You have a truly impressive number of flowering trees, as well as those with particularly pretty foliage. Your comments about your dry conditions are disconcerting, especially as I’m hearing that refrain from many different parts of the world, including those like yours that I don’t normally associate with rain shortages. It’s dreadfully dry here and, as we can’t realistically expect any rain again until fall at earliest, that borders on frightening given our severe fire risk.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Kris. Global warming is very worrying and the results are unpredictable with increased turbulence everywhere. I know rain is always an issue for you and those terrble fires must be terrifying. But despite the drought you have a magnificent garden packed full of beautiful blooms.

  7. I love the Akebia flowers and Elizabeth is a lovely Magnolia. We are also having a very cold spring, and a dry one. I look forward to seeing your Peonies in bloom!

    • Chloris says:

      It seems to be cold and dry everywhere; today we had high winds which kept me indoors, and not much keeps me inside. We need warm, gentle days with soft rain falling at night. My tree peonies’ blooms ars one of the floral highlights of the year.

  8. Divine garden worries me that we all seem to be looking for rain. And it is so oddly cold there. I am always astonished by your Photinia and learned something new today, there is a native Peony to Europe and I am waiting to see the Witch.

  9. snowbird says:

    So many delightful blooms! I did enjoy that ribes, who knew it could look like that. I do hope you got that rain. We finally got a lashing after a totally dry month. How unpredictable the weather is each year. We’ll all have to adapt to climate

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Dina, yes we have had rain at last, but it is so cold it feels more like February. Never mind, lovely things are happening in our gardens despite the awful weather.

  10. That’s quite the spectacular Ribes! A gardening friend of mine dearly wanted one (R. sanguineum, I think), but they were banned from sale or importation to our state at the time (1980-90s.) Ribes nigrum only became legal to grow here in NY in the early 2000s. Ribes trivia: Because of the USA ban on currants in the past, the purple-colored Skittles candies has always been grape-flavor in the USA, but blackcurrant-flavor elsewhere.

    • Chloris says:

      I didn’t though that there are places where growing ribes is banned. I should hate that, I have 5 different ones and I am seeking another gorgeous one called Ribes valdiviana.

  11. tonytomeo says:

    That seedlings seems to be that of an Acer platanoides. I do not know what it is known as there. I know it as Norway maple. I have been trying to root cuttings of ‘Schwedlerii’ which is an old cultivars with bronze foliage. There are five new ‘Royal Red’ specimens at work, which have better color. They rarely produce viable seed, and when they do, the seedlings are rarely of comparable color. The straight species in invasive in other climates where winters are cooler.

  12. Wonderful. I too am waiting for it to warm up as everything seems so late, but I know they will all come!

  13. Beautiful, beautiful spring blooms. We are having a weird spring here in the Midwest, but there are pros and cons to the weirdness. One of these days, I’ll do a post about it. đŸ˜‰

  14. Every time that I hear that akebia quinata is chocolate-scented, I feel that I must go out a buy one. Strangely, I’ve never managed it, but I think that is because I never go to the ‘climbers’ section. Hopefully I’ll remember next time, because it looks great (and I have a new bit of trellis I can plant it against). Your garden is always a feast of delight, but May has some of my favourite things. Great post Liz!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Allison yes akebia is very pretty and I like the leaves too. I am really interested to see if my seedling will have different flowers.

  15. Cathy says:

    I too am astounded by the freshness of colour in opening leaf buds – and fern fronds! Have they ever been as green as this before…?! Thanks for sharing your early May delights and I hope that you get a touch of the heavy rain that we are due today (it has made a good start already!) – our gardens will lap it up and hopefully won’t get flattened in the process

  16. Chloris says:

    The glorious green and freshness each May is a wonderful surprise and astonishment. Yes, I should have mentioned fern fronds and unfurling hosta leaves. And today we have rain, I feel like going out and dancing in it.

  17. Noelle M says:

    Your Bride is so beautiful, and gives me hope that mine will start to develop some strength. I shall try to mulch etc. The Iris are beautifully set against the gravel.

    • Chloris says:

      I am lucky that my exechorda is such a pretty shape. I didn’t train it this way, it just happened. The flowers last for ages. I adore irises, it is always a great excitement when they start to bloom.

  18. gardenfancyblog says:

    So many beautiful spring blossoms, Chloris — thanks for sharing them with us! Best, -Beth

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