The Garden in May

After a rather difficult winter; caused by a combination of a very wet autumn and a wet and cold winter that has been followed by cool early spring temperatures, many plants are significantly later than we might expect. Finally however thanks to the arrival of some warmer night temperatures, spring has now arrived.

Decennium border clothing itself in spring greens

The main areas of later performing grasses and perennials such as we have in the Decennium and Mill End borders are now starting their fast green growth that is always ignited as the temperatures warm. In the Decennium the bright yellow flowers belong to Euphorbia palustris which is always the first perennial to flower in the border; often only a matter of weeks after the annual cut back around late March.

Euphorbia palustris never fails to delight us with its bright spring yellow flowers each season.
Coping admirably with the almost continuous winter wet, ferns, sedges, luzula and primulas celebrate the arrival of warmer spring weather with fresh green foliage and flower.
The bright flower of an azalea provides a focal point set amongst the many shades spring of spring green and yellow foliage in the Stream Garden.

Thanks to the cool wet weather the Dry Meadow has been relatively devoid of flower these last few months but the blue grey foliage of the poa that makes up the base of the meadow seems to sparkle in the welcome sunshine. However the Spring Meadow timed, as it name suggests, to be of peak interest in the spring is alive with many shades of green and the rather beautiful almost icy white flowers of Luzula Snowflake; a Knoll Gardens selection of Luzula nivea. The primulas that were carpeting the base have more or less finished but, alongside the luzula, the broad foliage of self sown foxgloves work well with the soft foliage of the sedges and are about to push up their spikes of purple flower.

The bight white flowers of Luzula Snowflake arising from a carpet of greens that include sedges and briza
Seen from a different angle the spring meadow gives way to the lower lying swale of the Rain Garden with Luzula Snowflake growing happy in both areas.
The soft foliage of Poa labillardierei in the Dry Meadow reflecting the early morning sunshine.

Though now coming to the end of their display, primroses and early season bulbs have been in flower for many weeks. However the tall blue spikes of camassia in the Sunny Meadow are still looking rather lovely and seem to be happy in the gardens dry soil. In the Carex remota ‘lawn’ on the edge of the Summer Garden the equally wonderful Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) open their delicately beautiful green backed white flowers whenever there is enough sunshine.

The bright blue of camassia have been delighting us for several weeks in the Mill End border and Sunny meadow.
Carex remota and Star of Bethlehem in the Summer Garden
The beautifully delicate looking flowers of the Star of Bethlehem, Ornithogalum umbellatum

There are plenty of flowers to be seen from the many woody plants such as cornus, berberis, magnolia, viburnum and of course the rhododendrons. While large woody plants are invaluable for structure and shelter as well as spring flower their thirsty root systems create a lot of dry shade within the garden. Luckily symphytum is a lover of dry shady conditions. Not only does this large leaved adaptable plant provide weed proof cover all year in such places, at this time of year it offers impressive numbers of beautifully attractive tubular flowers that are as popular with early bees and other pollinators as they are with ourselves. The form that we use with soft blue and white flowers is Symphytum ‘Norwich Sky’.

Symphytum Norwich Sky excels in dry shady places.
Cornus offering its impressively shaped bright white flowers at the top of the Long Walk
A form of the wedding cake tree, Viburnum plicatum Mariesi showing the splayed branches of flower that gave rise to its common name.
The upright flowers of Ajuga Black Scallop are always immensely popular with the gardens bees.
In the driest of places Melica uniflora albida has been providing early season carpets of bright green foliage that will shortly be covered in the pearly white, almost rice grain like flowers
In a private area a small meadow planting based on sesleria and deschampsia is enlivened by the soft blue of self sown forget-me-nots and the bright yellow of daffodils; with self sown foxgloves to follow