Slowly, slowly …

… as we head into June, May is arriving.  What should have been a show-stopping leap centre-stage, has been a slow, very late and frankly embarrassing shuffle in from the wings.

Not much is flowering at the Priory therefore though there is plenty of new, green growth.  Here in the rock border, ferns (which survived the-years-of-neglect and being strimmed!) are stretching up and out among a drift of the forget-me-nots I introduced a couple of years ago.

The bank of rhododendrons behind the kidney beds (also still just foliage) are starting to flower – so a that’s a jab in the arm.  And, for the first time in weeks, I’m on top of the mowing.  Who knew that a sentence like that could give me so much pleasure?

But the long borders are still a damp squib; the allium leaves have rotted away like the tulips.  And all that cold weather has burnt the emerging persicaria in the foreground.

The Acer palmatum dissectum in the kitchen bed looks fine though and once again I’ve planted the bed up with Lobelia ‘Crystal Palace.’  Bedding plants?  I know, I know – but I’m a bit of a convert to lobelia.  I like lobelia – there I’ve said it.  Anyway, I’ve also added a few shuttlecock ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) – though I wonder whether they won’t dwarf the tree and box.  Probably.  If so, I’ll move them; but for the moment I like the little lime-green fountains.

Birds are pressing on with birdy business despite the wet, cold pseudo-spring.  Most of the nest boxes are in use …

… and the moorhens bring their young to feed on the scraps beneath the bird feeders.

The chicks may look ungainly but, being very shy, they don’t half leg it when they catch a glimpse of me – those huge feet disappear in a blurred whirl as they scoot off to the ponds.

Inconveniently, a blackbird has made a nest in the woodstore by the house.  I crept in and, using my most powerful lens, took a couple of snaps.  I’ll leave her be now, put up a sign to warn others and delay topping up the wood-pile.

On my drive to the Old Forge last week, May was more in evidence …

… with the lanes lined with cow parsley and …

… a great slab of rapeseed as a backdrop to the garden, while …

… a neighbouring paddock had a rather nice buttercup field-of-the-cloth-of-gold going on.

The grass in Margaret’s fields has grown long too.  But all the rain has forced her to defer the Great Stampede as it is known (but only by me).  I didn’t realise, until I met Margaret, that cows (at least in this part of the world) spend about six months of the year indoors.  She normally lets them out in early May but the ground has been too wet and the cows’ hooves would churn up all that lush pasture all too quickly.

Last week it was finally dry enough; watch out – here they come!  You can imagine how very excited they get at the prospect of fresh grass after months of silage.  Galloping …

… towards and past an anxious photographer (quaking on a wooden stile) and …

… careering out into the field above the Priory greenhouse.

For a couple of weeks a bull will keep the cows and calves company.   He probably thinks his luck is in – but unbeknownst to him, all the cows are already in calf.  Poor lad; disappointment looms.

Still, the cows are happy and so am I.  With the cows out in the fields at long last, it feels like May has finally arrived.

Albeit, almost in June.

25 thoughts on “Slowly, slowly …

  1. Pingback: At Last the Flowers are Appearing! « Hurtled to 60 and Now Beyond…

  2. You don’t want to be caught in that stampede! Mind you they look happy to be let out. It was a strange spring, the weather was inverse, starting out warm then it went cold and nippy and loads of plants slowed down. Lots of plants are late and some of our trees and shrubs are just leafing out now, weeks later than usual.

    Lovely glimpses of the priory again as well as your drive to the Old Forge!


    • I had my knees clamped to the stile I was perched on, Boys. They didn’t half thunder toward me. Having to do quite a bit of watering now – sigh. Always something trying – whether it’s too cold, too wet, too dry, too hot etc etc etc. D


  3. The hedgerows are lovely and ethereal at the minute with cow parsley aren’t they, and the fields of rapeseed look stunning beneath blue skies (nice photo). Amazing action pictures too 🙂 Ah, lobelia; after the lovely displays at Wisley last year I have some growing from seed, intended for hanging baskets. Mind you, first we have to decide where they’ll go and fix the brackets… and then buy some baskets… but I have the plants coming along nicely ;).


  4. Soooo funny to see those cows running out of the stable like that! They look like my dogs when I come home from work, but bigger and creepier! The rock border looks amazing and I’ve been shocked at how big is your persicaria, such a shame you lose some! Spring is being very very slow down here as well, I don’t remember a may this chilly, last year I was wearing shorts since april and by this time I was fed up with heat already!


  5. Great shots of the cows – it always makes me laugh when the farmer let’s them out for the first time – frisking about like young lambs – but they soon settle down to the serious business of eating the fresh grass. Love the picture of the buttercup field as well – very (sorry, the word I am looking for won’t come) so I’ll just say beautiful. You certainly have lovely countryside round your way.


  6. I know how you felt when the cows were galloping towards you, the same happens in the field next door when they are allowed through, I jkust hope the fence and shrubs will stop them! Wonderful photos! Thank goodness the sun has arrived at last, shame about your tulips and alliums, will you try again next year?


    • I think the alliums will be OK – the tulips I’m not so sure about. They all went in at the same time and have re-appeared each year and increased in number. I shan’t put in more until I see how they do next year, I think. Hope your fence holds up! Part of the post and rail around the Priory is a bit rickety – which is a worry! Dave


  7. Love the stampeding cows photos, you can really sense they’re happy to be outside. This warm spell will do wonders for the garden and with all the moisture in the soil I think it will be a good summer. This time last year a lot of plants looked quite tired by June because of such a warm April and then miserable May. I love the blue haze of forget me nots. I have read articles where garden designers say they are like a weed and shouldn’t be introduced into a garden but I love them including the fact they self sow. It’s sad that it has been a bad year for your alliums and tulips. It was the same at Sarah Raven’s garden. My tulips and alliums don’t seem to like my soil conditions. I should really treat them as annuals but that seems a bit too extravagant, although I am planning a tulip bed for my cut flower patch.


    • Possibly forget-me-nots are ‘weeds’ but after they finish they’re easy to pull out and then they re-appear the following year – hardly a bind. I do need to watch out for the wild one (with tiny flowers) that is in that bed as well. I think my tulips might have become ‘annuals’ this year, WW – I can’t believe they will put on much of a show next year. And the cows have been making a helluva racket for weeks now wanting to be out – especially when they hear Margaret mowing her lawn and they smell the fresh cut grass. D


  8. O to be present for the Freeing of the Cows. Luther used to be quite fond of cows, and I’d take him for drives on nice spring days in Vermont to see them at pasture and snuffle at them (at least, Luther did), but we never saw them kicking up their heels quite so gleefully. (Or at all.) That’s a lot of vicarious joy to soak up. Not sure I would have gotten much gardening done with such sights to revel in at the Old Forge. No wonder you’re the pro, and not me! Lobelia is one of my favorites. I’ve seen it do well in full shade containers here, but it wouldn’t be happy in the ground, unfortunately. Most annuals fizzle once the temperatures hit 90 and stay there, which should be, oh, sometime this week. Hope the moorhen grows into those feet someday soon.


    • Mustn’t snuffle cows, Stacy – it’s unlady-like. I always try and see the Freeing of the Cows – it has become quite an event in my Priory year. I made a mistake with my positioning on the stile though – many of them galloped down, saw me and skidded to a halt. I guess I am a very scary sight.
      It felt like 90 here yesterday (probably no where near but too hot for mowing). Moorhens never quite grow into their feet – and I suppose shouldn’t be too fond of them as they’re supposed to kill ducklings, of which there are none again this year. So maybe they do?! Dave


  9. I love your cantering cows such a good action photo – you should enter them in the Countryfile competition. I was also interested to see your sweep of forget me nots as have been thinking of doing the same thing in cottage border under the tulips but hopeless at visualising things


    • Hi Helen, I’m really pleased with the forget-me-nots – it has taken a while to spread them about but each year the show is a little nicer. I wouldn’t want them everywhere but I think they work well in the rock border until other stuff takes over. D


  10. I’m getting very confused about where we are in the year. Not in the least ready for June. The garden is bewildered too. Most things are behind hand. Then something judders forward by surprise. Result? Finding it hard not to disengage. Wish we had cows near where I live. Very cheerful, cows.


    • Hi Esther, I can’t believe it won’t be so very long until the longest day – shome mishtake shurely? If anything, the cows were a little muted this year – I’ve seen them jump much higher in the past and roll on their backs like puppy-dogs. D


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