May; a celebration of Spring

It is not only Chelsea Flower Show that offers a celebration of flower, as this month in the garden has to be a similar annual celebration of spring with myriad different flowers appearing from bulbs, perennials and woody plants alike.

Take for example the gardens collection of rhododendrons which seemingly explode into flower at this time. They may last for only a little while but the effect is memorable and an annual highlight to look forward to.

When at peak, white flowers somehow contrive to look especially pristine and both the cornus on the edge of the lower lawn (below) and the wedding cake tree, Viburnum Lanarth (below again), are especially vibrant in full bloom.

Of course bulbs are always so valuable in the first part of the year and Camassia leitchlinii (below), seems to have taken to the dry sandy soils so we are hoping to plant more in the future as they make such a wonderful display before the main season grasses and perennials really get underway.

In the Decennium border, which only received its annual cut back in late March, the impressively quick recovering Euphorbia palustris (below), has been in flower for a while and sometimes takes only seven weeks from being cut back to making an impact with its bright yellow flowers. It is always the first display of the year in the Decennium.

While it is still a little early for the Gravel garden to be in full flow, Euphorbia wulfenii offers its bright yellow heads of flower in association with some tall alliums that are  both set off rather nicely by the bluish foliage and emerging flower spikes of Poa labillardierei (below).

We have also used the poa as a base for our new meadow style planting known as the Dry Meadow (below), which is coming into its third year of establishment. We have intentionally not cut the poa to the ground in the spring and so allowed it to take on this rather elegantly shaggy look.

With the warmer nights encouraging growth, all sorts of bulbs including iris and allium are beginning to appear from between the shaggy mounds of the grass and seem especially effective in the dappled light of early morning (below).

Some Libertia grandiflora (below), were added to the meadow planting mix and are proving thoroughly worth their inclusion for the delicate looking spikes of white flowers.

Dry shade can be a real issue to have planted effectively, though we have found that Symphytum Norwich Sky (below), is excellent for covering these dry and inhospitable places; and keeping weeds away in the process. Not content with this worthwhile contribution the symphytum covers itself with masses of tubular flowers that are as attractive to us as they clearly are to bees, hoverflies and many other of the gardens pollinators.

At the edge of the Dry Meadow as the ground falls away into the lower swales of the Rain garden, Luzula nivea  ‘Snowflake’, a Knoll Gardens selection of this wonderful native, is currently in full flower. Its flowers are most welcome at this time of year and it copes with the sometimes wet, sometimes dry regime of the Rain garden very successfully.