Last weekend was a three-day break for many in the UK, thanks to the bank holiday, and as usual we took the opportunity to catch up in the garden.

View of the garden early May

My energy has definitely increased a little lately, so I did manage quite a bit of time pottering in the greenhouse, sowing seeds and pricking out seedlings, or outside on hands and knees, weeding or planting – and occasionally wielding a spade when nobody was looking. This fervent activity was tempered by ample amounts of time sitting on a bench, soaking up the spring sunshine, watching King of the Hill work up a sweat, while I admired the lush growth and bright colours around me. From the seat at the foot of the horse chestnut tree that you can see above, even looking up into the canopy made me smile.

Horse chestnut canopy from below

There was lots to exult in around the garden. The small snowball tree (Viburnum opulus) that my parents bought us a few years ago for our early May wedding anniversary is looking better than ever this year as it settles in and begins to put on growth, and was blooming in perfect time for a recurring anniversary gift.

viburnum opulus in bloom (snowball tree)


A glimmer of gold deep in the long border reveals the return of our first Welsh poppies, whose seed I shall scatter later in the year to help them colonise our borders.

Welsh poppies in bloom

The acer in the semi circular border at the top of the garden, beneath the kitchen window, is a blaze of scarlet, and the characteristic red eyes of the lime green Euphorbia martinii at its feet are beginning to appear, complementing the red foliage of the acer.

Euphorbia martinii in MayThis border is not a quiet place at this time of year! I rather love the contrast of fresh green heuchera leaves, blue frothy forget-me-nots and orange Calendula against the acer’s foliage. Nearby two clumps of the bright pink Barcelona tulips are still in flower too, some of which you can see in the top picture, adding to the riot of spring colour.

Bright contrasting foliage and flowers in MayThe field border is much more sedate; predominantly a tapestry of foliage, dotted with spots of gentler colour from forget-me-nots, bleeding hearts, geraniums and the first geums and aquilegias into flower.

Field border in early MayOne of my favourite things in this border at the moment is the contrast of the bright green leaves of  the shuttlecock fern, Matteuccia struthiopteris, against the dark-leaved black elder.

matteuccia struthiopteris foliage against sambucus nigra

matteuccia struthiopteris foliage against sambucus nigra

The sun illuminates the fresh new fronds of the fern as it moves across the field behind, drawing me over to admire their shape and colour every time I pass.

camassia leichtlinii against pheasant grass

Another combination that has pleased me are the blue stars of Camassia leichtlinii against the tawny and green striped clump of Stipa arundinacea behind. A few self-sown slender plants of the dark cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’) have also begun to bloom around the stands of pheasant grass, their delicate flowers appearing to float above their black stems. Their foliage has not been as dramatic as the original plant I bought, but I do hope they continue to self-sow and colonise this part of the border, as I love their form.

Acer in spring

This acer is more sedate than its red-leaved cousin, its delicately scribed foliage a wonderful range of zesty greens, tinged with red.

Blossom on apple espalier

Apple blossom is one of my favourite things about May, and it is pleasing that both espaliers and our small free-standing tree are in flower at the same time – hopefully these beautiful blooms are a promise of a good harvest.

There’s so much in the garden in May that makes me smile; though wild winds and rain for the past couple of days have blown the tulips apart and scattered cherry blossom across the grass – I hope that the weather turns again soon to let us leap back into the garden and enjoy this rapidly changing season.






16 thoughts on “Verdant

  1. I too love that stipa/camassia combo, and I also love the acer + orange and euphorbis, definitely the way I am going to go too, in fact I started this morning by moving a reddish euphorbia and planting Geranium ‘New Dimension’ which has purple leaves with red undersides by it. Though despite being told it had bright blue flowers, it looks as if they are more pale mauve, which isn’t so perfect, might have to move it when I see it. Anyhow, loads to relish in your garden, though it is great you have a little more energy again. Love the white puffballs of that virburnumn!

    • Glad that you have found some combinations to embrace the vibrance of your acer already – they are such a glorious colour.
      My returning energy is a relief, though it comes and goes, and it’s really easy to overdo things – I’ve never been very good at pacing myself, but I may have to learn for the next few months!!
      The viburnum is really pretty, we were both captivated by the pompoms of one growing locally, and my parents noted our delight and bought us this one, which was a lovely gift.

  2. Fabulous images. I was just marvelling this morning at how verdant my garden looks. I’m sure it has something to do with all the rain we’re getting. 😉

    It’s hard being a gardener and having low energy levels. I tend to overdo things. I’ll have a spurt of energy and whizz around trying to do everything and then I feel exhausted for a week. Pacing is hard when so much is dictated by the weather. Hope your energy levels pick up and the sun comes out again.

    • Thank you. It’s amazing how quickly all the greenery has sprung up!

      I’m terrible at pacing myself, I usually just throw myself completely into a task until it’s done, then recover afterwards. Not an option at the minute, but I’m thankful to have some energy for the garden, and trying very hard not to over-do it! This year will have to be a lower maintenance kind of year!

  3. Isn’t it nice when things you have put in start to clump up and look established? And how nice to be given a plant as an anniversary present, particularly if it is going to flower at that particular time too. Is it too early to think of what could be planted for the new arrival..?

  4. May is my favourite month and verdant a favourite word (along with equidistant and tine – in case you wondered). I should like to plant a horse chestnut but they are so susceptible to leaf miner here that it would be too depressing. Shame. Dave

  5. Your garden looks surprisingly mature, considering how new most of it is. I too love this time of year, when everything is bursting into growth, full of promise. You have achieved some lovely colour contrasts. I particularly like the purple / gold one. I have a purple Cotinus as a backdrop to a bright yellow Cornus, and it works really well.
    I hope you personally are “bursting into new life” all right! 🙂 Don’t do anything strenuous like digging, will you?

    • Thanks Mark. I do rather fancy squeezing a Cotinus in somewhere here…

      I’m certainly starting to burst with something 😉 – in a couple of months I’ll be waddling like a duck! Just a little bit of digging now and then – the crocosmia needed taking in hand…

  6. Sara your garden looks so beautiful, your photos and words do it justice, I love looking up under trees with the sunlight through the leaves, glad you are getting a good mix of exercise and rest, belated Happy Anniversary to you both, Frances

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