Blooming Priory

I’m trying to catch up after all my time off.  Serves me right, of course, for going away at such a busy time of year.  The grass is growing like billyo and needs weekly cutting now.   In the greenhouse, seeds are germinating within a couple of days of being sown and  much is ready for potting on.  Loads of the daffs need dead heading.  That brief moment of pristine springtime is over and the garden has dozens of dead daffodil flowers.  How sad is that?  All that expectation and waiting for the first one and then, before you know it, that most quintessentially spring flower is on the wane.

The bank of the west pond. Varieties unknown.

Still – mustn’t be too despondent.  There are still hundreds in flower.

Variety unknown.

When I started gardening at the Priory, I was told, categorically,  that there were no bulbs in the garden.  I found it very difficult to believe that a 500-year-old English country garden had no spring bulbs.  But, so I was told.  Accordingly, I ordered and planted daffodils, tulips, anemones, fritillaries, dog’s-tooth violet and lots, lots more.  One day during my first daff planting frenzy, I put 750 into turf using a hand bulb planter.  The following day I could barely stand, let alone straighten my back and my right hand was frozen into a rough approximation of a buzzard’s talon.


Taught me to look after myself a little.  I was almost incapable of work because I’d decided that I must get all those bulbs into the ground in one day.  I did manage to learn, that were I to abuse my body like that, I wouldn’t be able to work.  No work, no pay.  Simples.
The statement about there not being any daffs at the Priory was, of course, nonsense and during my first spring, they sprang up all over the place.


And here are some that I have planted:




February Gold


Thalia – pure and unblemished.  Like me.
Over in the flower meadow, I’ve planted 800 of an absolute favourite, the snakeshead fritillary and this year, for the first time, they are putting on a great show.


There are flowers everywhere you look at the moment.  My rhodohypoxis collection are flowering far too early.  I left them too long in the cold frame and with all this sun they are away:


Rhodohypoxis ‘Picta’


Rhodohypoxis ‘Fred Broome’

There is one Magnolia tree in the gardens; this very beautiful little stelatta, each branch and twig sporting a fine coat of pale lichen:


I have planted hundreds of tulips.  And despite the best endeavours of the resident squirrels (boo, hiss) they are doing well.  For each bulb that I planted, there are now half a dozen flowers.  In the long borders are Apeldoorn:


Full on and open, I find they can bring on a migraine:


Not quite open yet and far more sedate, Queen of Night:


Also just opening are these Carnival De Nice:


And these tulips were free with a larger order – I’ve forgotten what variety, I’m afraid.  Pretty though:


No alliums are in flower yet though they’re growing vigorously and increasing  in number, year on year.  (What do you think of them onions, Jason)?


Over on the river bank is a thicket of blackthorn.


For a few glorious days at this time of year it is a crashing, foaming, frozen wave.  Stunning I think.


16 thoughts on “Blooming Priory

  1. Hi Janet, I'm not a fan of double flowers but Carnival de Nice just about works for me. Easy to imagine it in a vase in a shady corner of a Vermeer, whilst the lady of the house is looking terribly perplexed in the foreground. For some reason it just looks very old and very Dutch. You're so right about Q of N – pretty perfect, I think.



  2. I adore blackthorn, and have now fallen for Thalia and Verger. Not convinced by Carnival De Nice and Apeldoorn, but Queen of the Night deserves her place in any garden. I'm still trying to learn the “little and often” approach to gardening rather than the “I must get all of this enormous job done now, immediately”, and my livelihood doesn't depend on it, just my health! If you find the secret, please let me know…


  3. Stoblogger, welcome and thanks.

    Hi Carolyn, thanks for your kind words. I tend to plant snakehead fritillaries in all the gardens I own or work in just because I love it so. I have grown it in shade (under hedges and the like) but at the priory it grows out in the open meadow.

    Blackthorn's latin name is Prunus spinosa – lovely isn't it?



  4. The gardens at your priory are gorgeous as are your photographs of them. Did you know that Fritillaria grows and multiplies in full deciduous shade? I have it spreading throughout my woodland. I too love closed tulips. The blackthorn is glorious, what's its botanical name?


  5. Hi Holleygarden, yes it has been hard work but hopefully it has been worth it!!!

    Thanks Donna, thanks and yes, I need to measure what needs doing against the limits of my body now. Sigh. When did that happen?

    Hi Stacy, yes – you are being too greedy (snigger) but as that old adage (that I've just made up) has it, “Greedy gets, what greedy wants”. Blackthorn does have a deep and heady scent. Though it's fruit, the sloe is only used really to infuse gin or vodka with. It's too tart for anything else. Sloe gin/vodka is jolly nice though and dead easy to make.

    Hi Hillwards, Thalia is a beauty isn't it? Definitely a favourite. And yes, every day brings the wonderful uncertainty over which bit will ache ……

    Hi Jason, you may well be off first with the alliums – the Priory lies in quite a deep frost pocket so all tends to be behind everywhere else. Not that I'm making excuses, of course.

    Gardenwalkgardentalk, thank you. I could really do with a slow motion button to just appreciate everything a little longer.

    Masha – thank you. It's been a long winter hasn't it?

    Ginny, thanks. Had a bit of a battle to save the blackthorn as it was nearly cleared when we had the post and rail fence put in along the river. But I wanted it saved exactly because of what it is now doing.



  6. oh, and I like the look of those Alliums. Will be interesting to see who gets the first flower. Mine are at a similar stage of growth to yours so could be a close run thing!


  7. Wow! amazing. I wish I had the kind of budget that would allow me to buy a few hundred of this and a few hundred of that! The effect enmasse is very impressive, the tulips especially so. Planting bulbs is an arduous task and, like you say, you quickly learn that to do it in one mad session is simply bonkers. That way leads only to pain and suffering.


  8. Hi Dave,
    Glorious spring pictures. Just look at the sparkle on the Thalia petals… and those tulips. Wow. The blackthorn blossom is magical this year – I love your description of it as a foaming wave, very apt. Heh, yes the body definitely lets us know when we overwork it.


  9. Wow, beautiful photos, Dave–the light in the magnolia and fritillary pics (and elsewhere) is just gorgeous. Do the blackthorn blossoms have a scent, or is that too greedy to ask for?

    You have to wonder what they had in mind when they said there were no bulbs.


  10. I frequently have to learn that lesson over and over as I abuse my body trying to do it all in one day…I have promised myself not to get into that this year and so far so good although a lot of the work is not done..beautiful bulbs putting on a grand show


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