Jo's May 2021 News and Views

Hello Everyone

Well, after the 4th wettest May since records began, I think we are all very pleased to see the sunshine and blue sky again. It definitely lifts your spirits which is just what we need. We sometimes get so involved in looking down at the plants that we forget to look up, photo 1. Here are the trees and shrubs on the Front Lawn, the black walnut, a rhododendron and the redwood all basking in the glorious sunshine. The flowers on the rhododendron are exquisite, photo 2. On the front of the house the Rosa banksiae continues to flower well, photo 3, whilst the Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens' in the bed nearby stood out too, photo 4. Walking towards Bowling Green Lawn the Berberis 'Georgei' is in full flower. Whilst opposite the small bed there has been completely replanted, photo 6. The tulips under the rose trees along the path have been a delight throughout May, photo 7. At the end of the path in the Euphorbia bed was this lovely Cotoneaster multiflorus, photo 8. Completely covered in blossom and spread out over quite a large area. It reminded me of a mother swan covering her brood of cygnets. Further on near the Asylum is the beautiful Paeonia suffruticosa 'Shugyoku Den', photo 9. Also here is the old yew tree that supported the wisteria for over one hundred years. The old wisteria has unfortunately died so I was pleased to see that the 'young pretender to the throne' has flowered well this year and is covering the front of the yew tree, photo 10. Moving on to the Iris Bed, I am pleased to say that the very wet weather seems to have suited the irises as it appears to be a bumper year of flowers. Now the sunshine is here they have burst in flower and the whole display looks fabulous, photo 11. This is Jesse's Song, just one of the many irises in the collection, photo 12. In the main part of the Kitchen Garden the sweet peas have been planted out, photo 13. The Rosmarinus officinalis or rosemary is covered in flowers, photo 14. The Cercis siliquastrum, also known as the Judas tree, is covered in blossom, photo 15. Poppies and aquilegias are everywhere, photos 16 and 17. Under the Prunus laurocerasus 'Camelliifolia', or curly leafed laurel, the Papaver somniferum are also flowering, photo 18. These are also known as the opium poppy and are a reminder that the garden was used by the Royal Free Hospital, after Mr Bowles death in 1954, to grow and experiment with many medicinal plants. Next I walked up the steps to the New River Lawn. The Tulip Terrace is once again adorned with tulips, photo 19. The bright colours really stand out and make a very stunning display. The border of the Rose garden has a wonderful collection of tree peonies which are starting to open their beautiful flowers, photo 20. I then visited the Bamboo Border to see the Cyclamen repandum, photo 21. They were planted a couple of years ago and the conditions here obviously suit them as they are spreading well along the path. Leaving this area I made my way to the Pond to see how the restoration is progressing. The contractors have been hampered by the very wet weather but are doing a super job. They are now shaping the sides and laying the protection layer and top soil ready for the liner to be added soon, photo 22. The Gunnera manicata have been very patient waiting for their new home to be finished. This one, photo 23, and all the others that were removed before the work on the pond started cannot wait to return home. Now for the fauna. I have some lovely surprises for you this month starting with a Buff-tailed Bumblebee, photo 24. It was collecting nectar from the Phacelia tanacetifolia in the Kitchen Garden and conveniently flew off just as I was taking the photo. The nuthatches have nested in the birdbox on the oak tree in the car park. A beautiful bird worth including again, photo 25. Once the weather changed the butterflies appeared in the garden. Here is a beautiful Orange Tipped Butterfly, photo 26 and a pair, photo 27. Of course the female is not quite as colourful as the male as is so often the case in nature. The male led me a merry dance around the Front Lawn for about 20 minutes until it found his mate and I couldn't believe my luck as I have never seen them together before. Then I followed a Cinnabar Moth, photo 28. In the Wildlife Pond the tadpoles have survived and are doing very well, photo 29. Then finally I discovered about 8 Rose Chafer Beetles in the netting covering the cabbages in the Kitchen Garden. Bryan very kindly released them and caught one so I could take a close up, photo 30. The female lays her eggs underground in the autumn and they emerge the following May so I was in the right place at the right time! So that's all for another month. I hope you have enjoyed this wander through the garden with me. Best Wishes Jo



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