The most noticeable scent in the Priory gardens at the moment is not the roses; neither is it lilies; nor the strong wafts from summer flowering honeysuckle. No – the pervasive nose-tease is this:
Measdowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria).* Because I’m leaving more and more of the garden margins unstrimmed, the number of wild flowers is increasing year on year. For example, the main drainage ditch (which links the two ponds) is full of wild flowers and, especially, the …
… light, airy flower-heads of meadowsweet.
If you see it growing somewhere, do walk over, bend down and breathe deeply. You won’t regret it.
I like the ‘stream’ it forms between the gardens and the meadow. In a few weeks, when it has finished its summer show, all this will be strimmed.
The meadow itself has been a disappointment this year. All that flipping rain has allowed the grass to romp away and swamp the wild-flowers. I’ve noticed this in other gardens too; the wild-flower meadow at Charleston Manor was the same.
Still. There are more insects in the meadow than anywhere else in the garden.
And even without lots of flower, the meadow is still a special place to walk and look and think; especially in the early morning when the grass is heavy with dew.
The pond banks are also unstrimmed and it is amazing how wild flowers just pop up. Where from? Here is a patch of common mallow (Malva sylvestris) while …
… up by the greenhouse is a singular Musk mallow (Malva moschata).
Arguably the prettiest ‘weed’ is this. Do you know it? Of course you do: Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum). It spreads itself freely about but is easily pulled out. I once watched a pair of bull-finches feeding on its seed and for that chance reason alone, it is worth having. Or so I think.
Having identified Herb Robert so effortlessly, how about this one? Any idea? I have to say I didn’t know. The answer is ….. water mint (Mentha aquatica). It too grows in the main ditch and again I don’t remember seeing it before.
Here’s one last wild-flower for you to name. Once again, I had to look it up as it isn’t something I’ve seen before; growing as it is on a bank that normally I would have cut by now. Yes! That’s right. Well done, indeed. It is betony (Stachys officinalis) and we have a …
… a single white one too. Bonus points to me.
Dotted about the grounds are patches of unmown grass. These are areas that I have left uncut to allow for the die-back of daffodils. Thing is, the daffs are long gone but self-heal and birds-foot trefoil and others continue to flower. Can’t quite bring myself to strim them while they harbour so many flowers – and so many insects. But soon these Mini-me meadows will be consigned to the compost bin. Indeed, in a few short weeks we will be mowing the main meadow; an event that, for me, marks an end to summer. Even though summer only just got here.
* Actually that is a bald-faced lie. The over-powering smell in the gardens at the moment isn’t any flower. The over-powering smell in the gardens is the stench of a rotting deer carcass. Nice, huh? The poor, young thing fell though the cap of a disused well. Unable to get out, it drowned. As much as I hate deer coming into the garden, I wouldn’t wish such a dismal end on any creature. I’ve covered the well (temporarily) and that has helped reduce the awful stink. I’ll have it properly capped soon. An unpleasant story – which is why I lied and stuck with the tale of the strongest perfume being that of meadowsweet instead. I guess you understand why.