A Soggy May Sunday.

Goodness, we have had some rain. Everyone is moaning about it, although we gardeners are secretly glad not to have to worry about watering. But even so, I am beginning to feel like Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice when his daughter Mary showed no sign of ever stopping her piano recital. I am not ungrateful, but I want to say to the rain: ‘ That will do extremely well child. You have delighted us long enough’.

But the garden is flourishing, including of course the weeds. I always have hopes of keeping on top of it all in March and April, but in May I know I never will. And each year there are new areas to care for because there are always new plants to try and this gardener is totally devoid of restraint or common sense. Keen gardeners are just plain greedy. Show us a plant we haven’t got, specially if it is rare and difficult to grow, and we will stop at nothing to acquire it. My particular downfall, or one of them, is tender climbing plants that grow 10 feet tall and more. They won’t survive outside and I haven’t got room to accommodate them all in my greenhouse. I even have a Solandra maxima which I believe can grow to 40 or 50 feet. I just don’t have a stop button when it comes to acquiring plants and not having enough room is irrelevant. But I do have have room for this lovely yellow flowered Clivia miniata var.’ Citrina’, it needs space but at least it doesn’t climb.

Clivia miniata var. ‘Citrina’

In my last post I wrote about yellow flowers and here are a few more. I know quite a few gardeners who won’t grow yellow flowers; I’m looking at you, Cathy from Rambling in the Garden, and my daughter, and my friend Rachel. Actually, Rachel is even more extreme, she only allows white flowers into her garden. But look at the sunshine yellow of Rosa ‘Helen Knight’. It really lights up its corner of the garden. I have primrose yellow ‘Canary Bird’ in bloom too, but Helen is my favourite as it is a much brighter yellow.

Rosa ‘Helen Knight’
Rosa ‘Helen Knight’

I grow the rather rare Berberis ‘Georgei’ because it has masses of the brightest scarlet berries imaginable in autumn. But I think it looks quite pretty in May too with dangling yellow flowers partnered with Euphorbia ‘Fireglow’.

Berberis georgei with Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’

I have a cheerful yellow self seeder which is always welcome. Papaver cambricum always pops itself where it looks good, amongst the bluebells or artistically arranged under trees. Sometimes it comes up as orange.

Papaver cambricum

But if the poppy is too common and the berberis and Rosa ‘Helen Knight ‘are a bit bright for you, Paeonia mlokosewitschii or Molly the Witch will surely beguile you as she is the palest lemon and very special.

Paeonia mlokosewitschiii

And nobody could turn up their noses at the delicate beauty of Clematis ‘ Korean Beauty’.

Clematis ‘Korean Beauty’

I like flowers which are unusual colours and I go weak at the knees at the sight of brown or green flowers. This little Iris pumila ‘Green Spot’ is a favourite.

Iris pumila ‘Green Spot’

And brown Iris pumila ‘Gingerbread Man’ really appeals to me.

Iris pumila ‘Gingerbread Man

Each year I grow bearded irises from seed I collect, I don’t arrange the marriages I let the bees manage that, but I am always happy with the children. This is the first one to bloom from my latest batch and I love it because it is a bit brownish even though its mother was pink.

If like me you love green flowers, then you may like Mathiasella bupleuroides. It ticks all the boxes for me, it is a umbellifer with jade green bell- like flowers. It is relatively new to cultivation as it was discovered in Mexico in 1954.

Mathiasella bupleuroides

But I do have tasteful white flowers too that would appeal to Rachel. Cornus ‘Eddie’s White White’ has gleaming white bracts.

Cornus ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’

I recently bought the snowdrop tree, Halesia monticola. I can’t resist the white bell shaped flowers. I did grow it successfully in my previous garden and it was a wonderful sight in May. Here I have killed two halesias, or they refused to be pleased by anything I offered them and wilfully died. If this one dies too, I shall have to accept defeat. The snowdrop tree looks wonderful underplanted with white aquilegias.

Halesia monticola
Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Munstead White’.

May of course is aquilegia time and I adore them, each year I grow some different ones from seed. The trouble this year is the pigeons. They started on thalictrums a couple of years ago and have now decided that aquilegias are just as tasty. They overlook the odd one like this one, but most of them have been eaten to the ground. I do hate beastly fat pigeons; when they are not eating my aquilegias they are evacuating their bowels in great disgusting heaps under their favourite roosts or indulging in endless bouts of x-rated behaviour with a great deal of flapping of wings and ostentation.

Other tasteful, understated white flowers are lovely Solomon’s Seal, Polygonatum biflorum. I love the little bell -shaped white flowers with green tips hanging on gracefully arched stems.

Polygonatum biflorum

And this is one with a red stem called Polygonatum odoratum ‘Red Stem’.

Polygonatum odoratum ‘Red Stem’

If you are wanting tasteful flowers then what could be more refined than Phlox divaricata ‘Clouds of perfume’ in a lovely shade of blue and smelling divine?

Phlox divaricata ‘Clouds of Perfume’

And now I want to show you some of the treasures on my table of delights. I select whatever is looking good in a pot and display them on the table on the terrace by our table where we hope one day to be able to take our meals outside. It is difficult to imagine doing this without waterproofs and umbrellas; but perhaps one day. At the moment I am enjoying some auriculas.

A dear little pot of Rhodohypoxis baaurii.

Rhodohypoxis baurii

A pot of Viola ‘Molly Sanderson’ which had seeded all over an alpine trough.

Viola ”Molly Sanderson’

And this dear little dwarf tulbaghia which a friend gave me a few years ago delights me every May. I am not sure of the variety as I have lost the label.


I can’t finish without showing you my stars of the May garden. They are big, blowsy and sumptuous and they are my pride and joy as I grew them from seed. They are supposed to be Paeonia rockii but of course they are not as they are seed grown and they don’t come true from seed. None of them turned out to be the glorious white peony with maroon throats which every one desires. Never mind they are still beautiful. They look glorious and they smell wonderful too. Nothing else can compare with them.

Paeonia x suffruticosa
Paeonia suffruticosa
Paeonia suffruticosa
Paeonia x suffruticosa
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40 Responses to A Soggy May Sunday.

  1. bcparkison says:

    Very nice.

    On Sun, May 23, 2021 at 2:57 PM The Blooming Garden wrote:

    > Chloris posted: ” Goodness, we have had some rain. Everyone is moaning > about it, although we gardeners are secretly glad not to have to worry > about watering. But even so, I am beginning to feel like Mr. Bennet in > Pride and Prejudice when his daughter Mary showed no sign o” >

  2. tonytomeo says:

    Solandra maxima is one of the many species that I miss from Southern California. I can remember it from San Luis Obispo on the Central Coast, which is in the same climate zone as Los Gatos, so it should do reasonably well here. It freezes to the ground every few years, but regenerates efficiently. Down south, it is popular for the lush foliage. The big bold flowers are an added bonus.

    • Chloris says:

      I didn’t know that Solandra maxima would regenerate after being frozen. I don’t think it could cope with our winters though. I fell for it in Martinique where I saw massive specimens covered in those amazing flowers. I’ve never seen one growing here, it’s totally unsuitable for our climate.

      • tonytomeo says:

        Yes, you winters are very different from ours! It does not freeze in most of the climates of the Los Angeles Region, but I think that it is grown more for the lush foliage, with the bloom as a bonus. I have not seen one bloom prolifically.

  3. Kris P says:

    I believe that rain is magical and that gardens always benefit from it even when it overstays its welcome – but then that’s also not something I have much experience with. I have friends that avoid yellow in the garden too and at least one who turns her nose up at them even in other people’s gardens but I’m not in that camp. I love your Iris pumila ‘Green Spot’ but, as the species doesn’t even appear in my western garden “bible,” I suspect my climate is inhospitable. I am of course as envious as ever over over the peonies.

    • Chloris says:

      Yes, rain is magical but the magic wears a bit thin after a rainy May like this one. If I had a small garden I would restrict my colour palette. My friend Rachel has a couurtyard garden where white flowers and silver foliage creat a magical effect. But I have plenty of room here and lots of different areas so I can indulge my passion for all kinds of plants and colours. Can’t you grow Iris pumila? I should have thought they would enjoy baking in your sun.

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    Wish we could take some of that extra rain for you… we’ve been too dry and recently, too hot.
    Beautiful plants all, but truly, the peonies are the stars… so lovely!

  5. Cathy says:

    Glorious! It must all be a bit overwhelming at times Chloris, and I hope you have someone to help you. And I admire your memory for all those names. Such a beautiful garden you have created!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Cathy. It is a bit overwhelming this year but yes, I now have some help, I should mention them sometimes because they are brilliant. Paul and Julie both do 2 hours a week and it is a life saver for me and the garden. Remembering plant names is just my nerdy side coming out.

  6. What a box of delights! And I enjoy your writing as much as your plants and lovely photos. You are right that we are a greedy lot. Having told myself recently that I absolutely can not acquire more plants, at least not this season, as I simply do not have the space, I am now thinking that it is extremely negligent of me not to have a phlox in the garden like yours, and must remedy this oversight urgently! Btw that brownish iris from seed is a beauty, I love those colours (among many other things you have featured).

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Sel, that is a kind thing to say. I’ve just been admiring your geraniums. Yes, we always need new plants even if we have no room for them. Growing irises from seed is great fun as each one is different.

  7. Your garden is just fabulous. I can’t imagine the hours of work you put into it. We have been having similar weather here with nearly 8 inches this past week with more rain on the way. I don’t understand why people have such strong feelings about yellow flowers. I love to be able to see them from a distance and from inside of my house.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you. I have just being telling Cathy, I do have a little help in the garden these days, I am getting older and the garden is getting bigger. I think yellow flowers are brilliant for lighting up dark corners.

  8. Jo Shafer says:

    At least we don’t have to water the lawns when blessed with frequent May showers. For at two weeks, after having our lawns reseeded and fertilized, we were “required” to water every half hour, every day! Whoowee! Now the grass is thick and luscious and shows up the peonies and roses in my English borders. No poppies for a while, however; I thought they had reseeded but perhaps were choked out by cat mint.

    • Chloris says:

      Goodness, watering every hour seems a bit of a penance. You are ahead of us with your roses out, ours are a June treat. Annual poppies have a mind of their own about where and when they pop up.

  9. What a wonderful selection. How long does it take to grow an iris from seed?

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Cathy. It takes about 3 years for irises to bloom from seed but they sometimes produce flowers the second year. Wait until the seed pods turn brown and split open and sow the seed in pots outside.

  10. Anna says:

    Oh the rain seems to have been non- stop Chloris but not only that it has been unseasonably cool too. At last though signs of balmier days and nights on the horizon 😂 Some beautiful yellows and other colours too in your May garden. I love ‘Molly’ and your iris ‘Gingerbread Man’ too. I’m upset as my mathiasella bupleuroides seems to have no signs of life at all 😢 I think that I bought it about 12 years ago or so and it always in flower by now. I’m not digging it up though just in case.

    • Chloris says:

      Well if you have no other yellow flowers in your garden you should have the beautiful and elegant ‘Molly the Witch’. She certainly bewitches me. Mathiasella beupleuroides is frost hardy but it can’t stand winter wet and we had a very wet winter. Mine sits on a bed of gravel.

  11. Marvelous peonies. I love Phlox divaritica but in my garden it is always eaten by rabbits. Wish you could send us some of all that rain.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Jason, yes my peonies are fabulous. I have managed to get rid of rabbits here. Muntjac deer and squirrels are my main pests combined with biblical plagues of pigeons.

      • What in the world is a Muntjac deer?

      • Chloris says:

        Muntjac deer are Chinese deer that were introduced into Woburn Abbey park in the 20th century. They soon escaped and are a major pest in the south east of England. They browse on tree bark, shrubs, well anything really. They are a pest in gardens but are also responsible for the destruction of woodland habitat which has lead to the loss of nightingales on a large scale. They are short, stocky and ugly with vicious upturned tusk – like teeth. One turned on my dog when he chased it and caused serious injury.

      • Yikes. Glad we don’t have it here.

  12. Love the poppies, too!

  13. Annette says:

    We too have had lots of rain and the garden has turned into a jungle. I could look at your gorgeous plants for hours, they’re always so special. Never understood why so many people don’t like yellow, it’s so warm and cheerful, especially at this time of the year. The Clivia looks so delicate, much nicer than the ordinary one I’ve got. They’re such grateful pot plants. Lost my Clouds of perfume to the drought sadly and Meconopsis cambrica refuses to settle here. Have a good week x

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Annette. Ah yes, I’ve been hearing about your rain. Your climate has been running parallel with ours for weeks but now I expect you will get a whole lot hotter soon. My phlox is quite new, I’ve not had much success with them in the past, as you say they can ‘t take drought. It’s funny about the Welsh poppy, it is a weed here. But one man’s weed…

  14. Always a joy to read about your treasure trove of wonderful plants. I am only just starting to collect irises and I love your chocolatey/pink creation. Yellow used to be banned in our garden, but I’ve seen too many yellow combinations/plants that I admire to keep it up. Certainly your choices are enticing! 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Allison. Well, if you’ve started on irises it is a slippery slope, specially if you start growing them from seed. Iris germanica likes a sun baked spot with no competition and where to put all my iris children is getting to be a problem here.

  15. Always amazing to see what is in your greenhouse. I almost planted a Solandra but decided not to – fear of being overrun, ended up with a Bougainvillea. I am happy to see the Witch at long last and she is enchanting…so is your mystery seed Pink Peony..hope your rain stops soon and magic carpets here. I can’t remember the last time it rained..

    • Chloris says:

      Very sensible to eschew the solandra, I don’t know what I was thinking of. I also have blue Plumbago and Plumbago indica, ( the red one.) Also Bougainvillea, 2 sorts of Pandorea, Clerodendron thompsoniae, Tecomanthe hillii, Lapageria, a tender Passion flower and goodness knows what else. And there is my ever growing collection of tender nerines. What I really need is a glasshouse like the one at Kew.

  16. snowbird says:

    Oh, so many breath-taking delights. I just loved them all, especially the peonies. The brownish iris grown from seed is lovely. I love yellow plants, spring seems to be full of them along with pink. You have me laughing out loud re your hatred of wood-pigeons, peacock poop is even worse, we still can’t get it off our cars from when Peanut lived with us.xxx

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Dina. I’m glad you aren’t offended by my hatred of pigeons. With your soft heart you’d be feeding them corn and inviting them in to sit by the fire. I seem to remember you kept one in your study once, or did I dream that?

  17. What delightful flowers you have in your garden! I found myself smiling while perusing. A post to come back to again for more enjoyment! The Mr. Bennet reference made me laugh as I remember it well.

  18. Cathy says:

    I love the P & P analogy 😉 And I dutifully read all your post and looked at ALL the pictures, including the ones showing yellow blooms and irises. Guilty as charged, although there are some yellows permitted – where would I be without sunflowers, rudbeckia, yellow roses and of course my witch hazels?! As others have said, your writing is always entertaining and informative and I always learn something new from it, which frequently leads to another purchase…this time I shall be looking for some rhodohypoxis. Thanks for being part of our blogging community, Chloris

  19. gardenfancyblog says:

    My goodness, Chloris, you have so many plants that I’ve never even heard of! And each of them is so lovely and so interesting in its own way — no wonder you can’t stop collecting them. I couldn’t live without cheery yellow flowers, so I’m glad you like them too. I hope the rain stops soon and you have warm sunny days to enjoy in your beautiful gardens! Best, -Beth

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