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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
And nobody could turn up their noses at the delicate beauty of 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.
And brown Iris pumila ‘Gingerbread Man’ really appeals to me.
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.
But I do have tasteful white flowers too that would appeal to Rachel. Cornus ‘Eddie’s White White’ has gleaming white bracts.
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.
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.
And this is one with a red stem called 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?
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.
A pot of Viola ‘Molly Sanderson’ which had seeded all over an alpine trough.
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.