The month started with chilly days and nights, with very strong cold winds, but as the first week progressed, the weather men informed us of very hot days on the way. 29C was forecast for 6th June with heavy rain and thunderstorms. Typical of English forecasting, all we had was light rain on Friday and Saturday and a few days of warmer weather then back to normal dull but warm days, chilly in the mornings and evenings, so here we are at two weeks to the Summer Solstis and not a lot of summer to show for it.
The garden is popping into growth. Rosa ‘Blush Noisette’ is literally covered in buds, with quite a few showing colour and alas with much greenfly also. The last of the Tulips are being dug up to make room for the summer annuals, the bulbs are placed in buckets and boxes, each in variety and put on the lower benches in the greenhouse to dry off.
The trouble with Jackdaws is that they behave like a bunch of teenage hooligans. I saw 7 on one fat ball feeder one morning, stabbing their large heavy beaks in between the holes on the feeder reducing any whole fat ball to small pieces and in the process squawking and squabbling as showers of fat ball crumbs flew every which way. Families of young robins, great tits, blue tits, wrens, great spotted woodpecker and sparrow babies have been seen fluttering in the garden, with parent birds popping food into ever open tiny beaks. The swallows have produced a clutch of 5 babies that fledged last week.
This year is such an excellent year for flowers that quite a few shrubs in the garden are looking as if the branches could break with the weight of the flowers. The Snowball bush, Phlomis fruticasa near the Museum entrance, the old Lilac tree in the shrubbery, Euphorbia chariacus ‘Wulfenii’ and the two red flowered Hawthorn trees are all in danger of this happening to them. After very heavy rain the two plants of Comfry were completely flattened and so were cut right down (they will soon re-grow and flower again) chopped up and put on the current compost bin. The stems are full of goodness and nutrients and so make excellent compost.
Runner Bean ‘Painted Lady’ and Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ have been planted on the Trellis border as have summer flowering bulbs Ferraria tignidia and Acidanthera murilae. Also planted is a tripod of sweet pea - Lathyrus odorata ‘Matucana’. Another tripod of this is near the two red hawthorns and a small one in the back area, in the cutting garden. They have all been planted on the longest red-stemmed Cornus sticks. This particular variety is 16th Century. It has blue and maroon flowers with an intense heady perfume. New tubs of petunias have been placed in the Courtyard to look bright in the area where not many flowers grow.
The Fig, having had a seriously hard prune in January is suddenly full of largish fruits and fresh green new leaves. It looks like another bumper crop is on the way. A new fruit tree has been planted in the centre of the Shrubbery. It is a plum tree and the variety is ‘Orlean’s Plum’, the fruits of which are mentioned in Jane Austen’s letters. It already has a good crop of tiny fruits.
Already the borders are full of flowers and colour. Flowers that are out now in the garden: Rosa ‘Wild Edric’, Rosa ‘Blush Noisette’, Sweet Cicely, Clematis recta, Foxgloves - digitalis purpurea, Geranium psilostemon, grannies bonnets - aquilegia, vulgaris, Oriental Poppy - Papaver orientalis, Allium christophii, Sweet Rocket - Hesperis matronalis, Sweet Woodruff - Asperula odorata, Capnep - Nepeta faasinii, Gladiolus byzantinus, Hemerocallis flava, Alpine Strawberry - Fragaria vesca, Buddleia globosa, Lilac - Syringa persica, Sweet Williams - Dianthus barbatus, Toadflax - Linaria, Solomons Seal, Jacobs Ladder, Heartsease - Viola tricolour, Globe flower - Trollius europaeus, Lady’s Mantle - Alchemilla mollis and A. Vulgaris, Geranium phaeum, Welsh Poppy - Papaver cambrica, Perennial Cornflower - Centurea montana and C.M. alba, Euonymus europaeus - Spindle Tree and Angelica - Angelica archangel, to name but a few.
Celia Simpson - Gardener