Iris of May

I’ve realised that iris are my latest obsession – and what’s not to be obsessed with; hardy architectural leaves and the widest array of wonderful flowers. Here are some of the May irises.

I only recently realised that some of the bearded irises are scented – in some cases quite strongly scented. Not quite sure how I missed that before but always good to discover new things.

Alliums have started flowering too – the tallest ones seem to come first; I have purple and white.

The white bed is starting to look, well, white. It’s actually turned into a white/foliage bed with rodgersia, physocarpus and bronze-leaved penstemon.

Cotoneaster hedges on the patio are covered in blossom – and bees. They will need a prune soon, nudge nudge..


May is flowering time and I’m very relieved to observe that there’s no shortage of bees so far this year.

The oriental poppies are better than ever. May is just amazing.




Cool nights and quite dry weather have resulted in an extended spring. Even though it was really warm and sunny today there’s a cold wind and forecast of 4 degrees tonight. Wonderful soaking rain a few days ago, thanks be. It is the year of the forget me not, scattered blue looking very considered and deliberate.


May is the time of viburnums and euphorbia.

The pines are sending out long candles of new growth.

After the recent rain it is genuinely possible to watch the perennials grow – if you have the patience..


Empty patches of soil have been filled with plant life and if you look away for too long weeds are trying to join in.

The shrub garden is really starting to take off; I’ve already started moving some of the larger ones out to the field.

And in the field the rabbits are hungry, digging around for new grass shoots – or is it just to drive me crazy. The hedgerow is looking very good, and we have starting talking about it needing its first trim later in the year.


Spring flowers bringing me to a standstill: the amazing dodacatheon ‘shooting stars’


The start of some wonderful irises, these Dutch Iris are ‘Alaska’


But the stars performers of May are these bearded Iris, Iris germanica ‘Nick’.




Spring at last

Even if there’s a really cold wind when the sun is out it finally feels like spring. And everyone in the garden thinks so too. Here’s many pics of what’s happening.

Exciting news is that I got given a greenhouse by our generous neighbours. I plan a reshuffle in which one of the existing greenhouses will turn into an alpine house. Alpines are at their best in spring.

The epimediums are looking really good too.

Erythronium dens canis the dog’s tooth violet; their best angle is wherever you’re standing.

Euphorbias are really showy at this time of year – some of my favourite plants.

Many bulbs flowering now – here’s a few of them.

The great cherry blossoming has begun – slowly with the fruiting cherries and spectacularly with the flowering ones.

Crab apple flowers are opening as the day progresses.

Amelanchier, acer and horse chestnut with new spring foliage.

Corylopsis has been really amazing this year – perhaps after the relatively mild winter.IMG_1335

I’ve cut back some of the stipa as an experiment – it was starting to lie down with the prevailing wind so hopefully this will encourage it on.IMG_1120

And this weekend I finished off preparing the long borders; year four and looking good.IMG_1342

Country of wind

The main feature of March has been wind. Constant wind. And not just coming out of our parliament. Storm Gareth was full of wind, ripping autumns’ dry leaves off the beech hedge (where do they ultimately go?). Today we have gusts of up to 50mph. Early blossom has been stripped and exposed trees have been bent. Sometimes in bed at night I expect to hear the slate roof tiles blowing off and sliding down; thankfully none so far this year. IMG_1327

There’s been a few developments; grass paths have been covered with chipped wood – eventually to plant up, reducing the need for careful lawn mowing. IMG_1319

A bunch of gum poles have been moved and cut to form a palisade of sorts for a bench – with the wind in mind I’m making shelter where I can.IMG_1316

A few of this month’s star performers:IMG_1350pulmonaria,


IMG_1351euphorbia myrsinites,

IMG_1324salix alba ‘Vitellina’,

IMG_1352and plum, this one is sheltered and has persisted right through the month of wind. March has been called the cruelest month, maybe it’s time to rename it the windiest. Let’s hope for a calmer future.

Blossom in the mist

Four warm sunny days in a row with more forecast – this doesn’t feel like the end of winter but it’s good all the same. Today provided treat temperatures – 16 degrees during the warm afternoon; but this evening it plummeted sending us fireside. IMG_1287

Thick mist flows down the hill at dusk, gathering on the flat ground where it hovers until morning. IMG_1300


Suddenly there’s fruit blossom – plums, apricots and almonds are all in flower. This seems very early; hopefully the cold evening air won’t be too damaging. Lots of bees around, perhaps they will pollinate them in time. IMG_1293


Sunset is around 5:30 now. Soon it will be light in the evenings after work and the long dark will be over for another year.IMG_1292

Early spring

A sunny Sunday in February is a great thing. Today was warm and bright all day. The sun coaxed so many early spring flowers out – along with lots of bees and 3 microlight aircraft which flew directly overhead in v-formation, lawnmowers in the sky. Sudden bright colour after the dourness of winter. Here’s some macro shots.

IMG_1043This is a tiny alpine crocus, its name unknown to me.

IMG_1046Hamamelis .x intermedia ‘Barnstedt Gold’

IMG_1049Hamamelis intermedia ‘Jelena’

IMG_1050Filling the area with delicious scent is this Sarcococca confusa

IMG_1072And more delicious scent from this Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’

Wonderful crocus are emerging in some very unlikely places

IMG_1055Some early Narcissus ‘tete a tete’


IMG_1065Chaenomeles japonica

Hellebores are still going strong one month on

IMG_1071I sat near these crocus and caught some rays – it almost felt like spring.


Sunshine and Erik

Storm Erik swept through last week, throwing fierce wind and rain around and giving us a good soaking on our way in to work. At least it wasn’t quite as cold as it has been. This weekend saw the back end of Erik; more wind and showers broken by surprising stretches of bright sun. Good weather for mulching. I spent Saturday spreading horse manure. I have a horrible suspicion that this manure is full of demon weeds – lets hope I’m wrong. The manure was supplemented with a mulch of mature wood chips – an instant make-over that I’m hoping will suppress the weeds.


Mulching is a sometimes delicate task – avoiding the early bulbs and growth that’s already starting to appear. These crocus are ready to go – I will miss them opening during the week.IMG_1274

These iris reticula are always a brilliant surprise, shockingly blue against the natural mulch of fallen beech leaves.IMG_1263

I thought these were Katharine Hodgkin, but they seem to be reverting to a darker blue – or perhaps they were always something else..IMG_1265

The dogwoods are at their best in the brief sunshine, shiny wet and improbably colourful.

And from a distance they’re like linear flames burning through the cold afternoon.IMG_1277

Another shower breaks and I rush to shelter in a greenhouse. I’ll not complain about the rain, it’s all welcome on a Sunday afternoon in February.IMG_1285