An End To May

As I walk about the Priory gardens,


I am watched.


When deep in thought (it happens), I might suddenly look up and be quite startled.  These four made me jump – but then it doesn’t take much.


Margaret’s cattle are part of the summer scene at the Priory; mooing loudly (and often very unnecessarily), drifting from one field to the next, watching my antics, ignoring my antics, bustling up to the fence when I mow.  They do love the scent of fresh cut grass.  With that stretch of post and rail fence replaced a few months ago, I needn’t worry about them barging into the garden anymore.


Or perhaps I ought.


The rock border

The damage they might do makes me shiver.


So long as they stay out in the fields, I like their company just fine.


I suspect the cows would enjoy a visit to the meadow – an opportunity I hope they never have.


I walk around the meadow at least once a day to check on its (slow) development in this, its fifth year.


Most of the young trees are doing well including the quince (Meeches Prolific).  It was very badly mauled by deer three or four years ago but, now safe within its cage, has recovered.


Plum ‘Opal’ is not happy.  This is the second I’ve planted: the first one died and No. 2 has serious die-back.  I might have to install a No. 3.  I could try another variety of plum but then, you see, I would have a useless brass nameplate.  Waste not, want not.


In April I was chuffed with the onward march of fritillaries


and now during May, Camassia quamash have also spread more than I hoped.


I had planned to plant some more but


there really isn’t any need.


I realize that developing a flower meadow is a long, slow process;


a process I’m trying to speed up by trialling wildflower seed carpets.  I’ll do a post on how they perform later in the year.


The appearance of a solitary common spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) was a big bonus.


Despite their name, these orchids aren’t that common at the Priory: each year we have about half a dozen.  Mostly they sprout up on the lawns where their spots make them easily spottable.  I mark them with canes so that they don’t get mown into oblivion.  On 20th April, one of them emerged on the lawn very near to the house.  As it was likely to get trampled, I tried transplanting it.


Anxiously, using a bulb planter, I re-homed it on the meadow.


And (whoop, whoop) it has flowered.  How smugly satisfying.  Two wild orchids on the meadow – practically a host.


5th May

The beech hedge stutters into life during May.  It’s interesting (a bit) how it doesn’t green up uniformly.


26th May

But it doesn’t take long for all of its parts to catch up.  I simply want to hug it when it looks like this – the big, shaggy, fresh and handsome brute.


I’ll also do a post on the rose tunnel soon (as well as the tropical border – visible above).


But I hadn’t expected the new chestnut rose-tunnel-posts to shoot!  Poor things – they so want to live.


On the 2nd of May, I took this photo of newly planted tomatoes in one of the greenhouses.  Altogether, there are nineteen tomato plants and six cucumbers in the two greenhouse beds.


By the 15th May the tomatoes had gown into these;


and by the 23rd were like this.


And three days later, they were bigger still.  They seem an inch or two taller every time I look.


Peonies and Allium christophii against the house wall

So there’s another quick(-ish) look at the Priory in the merry month.


Pots of rhodohypoxis

All too soon, my most favourite month is over.


Happily, June is my most favourite month too.

37 thoughts on “An End To May

  1. From your shaggy hedge to your meadow orchids, I am truly envious of your job! I appreciate that we’re being shown the best bits at a good time of year but it must be such a joy to know that you go to work to be surrounded by all that beauty. It all looks blissful. *sigh*


    • Hi Caro, I do love my job and the Priory. I started blogging to show her off – otherwise so much of what I do, or rather what she does, would go unnoticed. But I try to show the bad as well as the good – the plum tree for example. Surrounded by beauty (and plenty of wildlife) is a huge plus but also terribly distracting. D


  2. I shed a wee tear as May slipped away…tiz my fav’ month too. We should start a campaign to make May longer or just have May all year round.
    Serious greenhouse envy…it’s a wonder you get any work done…I’d be there all day stroking , oooohing & arrring whilst you’re cooing over bushes.
    Have a groovy weekend you hippie hedge hugger 🙂


    • Hi Bridget, we had such a very winter last year I was worried that the hedge might have suffered in places where it sat in water for weeks on end – but it seems to have shrugged it off. Phew. Dave


  3. I agree – May is the best month of all. Everything looks fantastic but there is still so much promise. So much yet to come !

    Your meadow looks like a labour of love as it progresses with time. The little Camassias are beautiful – as are the orchids , of course. ‘Common’ is a bit of a misnomer for them, I think …


    • Hi Lynne, thanks. I walk about the Priory at any given opportunity or else there would be so much I would miss. Even then there are certain flowers which are over before I know it. Dave


  4. So many beautiful tableaux, Dave — I think my favorite is the one with that breath-takingly gentle combination of alliums, aquilegia, and forget-me-nots. But I could be wrong.

    Such thoughtful cows, to pose and be all picturesque for you. (If there’s one thing cows are known for, it’s thoughtfulness.)


    • I’m pleased you like that photo, Stacy. I almost forgot to put it in and only did so at the last moment. I guess the cows are thoughtful but probably mostly about grass. And grass. And grass. D


  5. When we first moved here, we had cows next door, looking over the fence but for the last 10 years or so all we have had is a field of maize, I much prefer the cows!
    Well done moving the orchid, good idea to use a bulb planter, as the years go by your meadow will just get better and better!


    • I certainly prefer cows to a field of maize. A second transplanted orchid has just flowered too, Pauline. It’d be amazing if one day the meadow is full of orchids – as the wildflower meadow at Great Dixter is. Dave


  6. Lovely post, I have missed the part where you started your meadow, what were the ground conditions when you began and how did you set about creating the meadow?


    • Hi Julie, when I started the meadow was a large area of rough grass which was cut regularly by the previous grass-cutting crew and the clippings left behind as they mowed. Looked awful but immediately looked like a perfect large space to leave well alone and see what would happen. And that’s what I’ve done with a few additions such as yellow rattle – a grass parasite that reduces the vigour of the grass – bulbs and a few other bits and pieces. We cut it in late summer and remove all the clippings and that is pretty much it. It’s coming along. Dave


  7. The Priory is looking very lush. I am enjoying watching the meadow progress. I planted some Camassia bulbs in a large pot, they are beautiful flowers but much more suited to the meadow. I will free mine from the pot in the autumn. Did you know American Indians used to eat the roots? I found that out when I was checking where to put mine. Amelia


  8. Excellent post showing what a great gardener you are love the camassia’s they look totally at home in the meadow everything seems to be progressing beautifully. Happy June.


    • Hello Ronnie, any tomatoes the owner and I don’t eat will be given away. And I make a lot of oven roasted passata too! The meadow is coming along and improving year by year. But it is a slow process. Mind you five years ago it was just mown lawn. I wonder what it might be like another five years. Dave


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