Steady As She Goes

The garden is sailing through spring so quickly.  Though I’ve taken a few photos, I’ve not had the time to show you all of the Priory’s April charms.  Here’s a quick retro peek at a little of what has grabbed my attention and maybe elicited an “Ahhh.”

fritillaria meleagris

The snake’s head fritillaries (Fritillaria meleagris) have been pretty good.  Not fall-over-fantastic but then I’m resigned to it taking years, decades even, for them to fully colonise the meadow.

fritillaria meleagris (2)

But I do have clumps!

fritillaria meleagris (3)

And even if some of the flowers are pecked by


him and his chums,

Fritillaria meleagris (4)

they seem to thrive.

Fritillary seed

In a couple of months the seed heads will ripen and readily crack open.  At that point, I collect the seed and liberally cast it where numbers are still sparse.  (Profligately throwing fistfuls of fritillary seed about is one of my favourite pastimes.  Now you know).

Erythronium pagoda

I’m not embarrassed to announce:  I’m in love with my solitary Erythronium pagoda.  Unlike the fritillaries, it hasn’t spread and this is the only one to emerge from half a dozen bulbs I put in a few years back.   If it can be bothered to flower every year, the least I can do is bother to walk over and admire it.

Cherry blossom

Blossom cheers up the gardens.


We’re blessed to have a handful of mature cherry trees at the Priory.  They produce fruit too – not that you’d notice.  The birds strip them far too quickly for me to get a mouthful.


One of my favourite trees at the Priory is an amelanchier.  (I don’t know the variety but suspect it’s A. x Grandiflora ‘Ballerina’.  Anyone?).

amelanchier (2)

The tree produces suckers which I used to remove.  But I stopped cutting them off (life is so short, isn’t it?) and clipped them to a shape instead.  I thought I’d make a feature of them … a pot?  A base?  A stand?  Call it what you will.

amelanchier (3)

But when it too flowered, I’ll happily admit to an “ahhh” (and made a mental note to remove that ivy).

Tulip Spring Green (2)

Don’t you just love a tulip that comes back year after year?  Here’s one that has done just that – Tulip ‘Spring Green’.  This subtle beauty is easily lost amongst tall, verdant, herbaceous growth but here it sings out against an old lichened wall.

Tulip Spring Green

And rewards close regard.

spiraea (2)

I never saw the point of spiraea.  Until, that is, I bothered to read up about it.  Now that I know it flowers on old wood and pruning back hard in winter or spring is a BAD idea, it flowers freely.  I’ll chalk that one down to experience.  Again I don’t know the variety.  Spiraea thunbergii do you think?


Swaying about in a breeze with an underplanting of forget-me-nots and daffs, it does grab my attention and brings me to a halt.  And actually, you can’t ask much more of a plant than that.  Can you?


I posted recently about the bank below the greenhouses and prattled on about how pretty it is.  Well since that post, and left to its own devices, it’s got better still – mostly smothered with wildflowers.  It fair sparkles.


Above the bank, its new leaf shimmering, is the young dogwood hedge.  I planted it to part-screen the ‘houses and this is only its second year.


Isn’t it vibrant?  Alternate green and red-barked cornus show off their respective leaf colour too – which is an unlooked-for bonus.  I hadn’t anticipated that … only the winter stem colour.  I do like an unlooked-for bonus.

Kerria japonica (2)

What about Kerria japonica?  Bit blousy?  Bit naff?  Possibly both but I’m fond of the yellow pom-poms anyway.  This particular plant went in several years ago as a tiny, barely rooted bit of stem tugged, without ceremony, from my garden.

Kerria japonica

This is its first proper flowering and I’m rather pleased.  I’ve worked in gardens where kerria is a brutish, twelve-foot high thicket.  Mine sits beneath a large alder, its feet amongst nettle and ground elder.  Brute away my friend.  Brute away.


Way up on the drive (several hundred yards from the house) is a forsythia.  When we cut the mixed hedging in July, we cut this too.  Quite hard – otherwise it shoots out over the narrow tarmac.  July is a little late for cutting forsythia (it ought to be done straight after flowering) and this one usually sulks the following spring.  But this year it has flowered quite nicely.  (With another cherry tree, unnoticed for most of year, shouting, “Me, me, me!” behind).

Magnolia Stellata

Sticking my head through the beech hedge for a voyeuristic glimpse of Magnolia stellata

The gardens are finally coming to life – now the won’t-be-rushed Priory is finally under way.  She is a tardy lass.  But I can forgive her that.

41 thoughts on “Steady As She Goes

  1. So much loveliness to go “Ooh” and “Ahh” over. I love the new approach to suckers, I might have to try that! ‘Pagoda’ is a wonderful plant, I had a single clump in my last garden, it never grew any bigger, only ever gave me three or four flowers, but they were worth it. Come Autumn I am going to have go at establishing some here. I might even branch out and try a different one too… Happy frit seed sprinkling!


    • I planted another variety as well as Pagoda. Each year I can see three or four sulky plants but they haven’t flowered once in about six years. Wretches. But I shall follow your lead and plant more Pagoda I think.


  2. Lovely enjoying your spring collection. I planted the same Fritilaries last year but none have re-flowered which is strange as I have a good repeat percentage for bulbs here. The seeds were viable too, as I grew some in a pot outside just to check. I did not realise the Amelanchier would grow into a tree! I better keep an eye on mine. Amelia


    • Hi Amelia, fritillaries do like a wet winter. I wonder whether your conditions might be too dry? Daffs hate it on the meadow as it gets so waterlogged but the frits love it. That amelanchier is the biggest I’ve seen. The is another in the garden but it’s half the size and doesn’t seem to grow much year on year, if that reassures you! Dave


  3. It is interesting that plants such as Kerria or Forsythia that are often dismissed as ordinary become wonderful when in flower. We have a Kerria with a blue alpine Clematis growing up through it.
    Thank you for the garden tour.


    • Hullo Brian, great minds, eh? I have a blue clematis growing against a wall but it’s never looked particularly good and I planned on moving it. But it’s next to the kerria and so I decided to leave it to grow up through that instead. Damn. I thought I was being really original but it seems you’ve beaten me to it. Damn. D


  4. Absolutely beautiful. I like the idea of your dogwood hedge, I have never seen them used like this before. I love them in winter and birds perched on their branches are beautiful to photograph.


  5. Yes, every view looks really lovely, especially the first shot of the bank below the greenhouses, thats quite beautiful. My neighbour grows Kerria along her side of our trellis boundary, I used to be quite snooty about its brashness but now I love the cheery flowers.


    • It’s an easy plant to be snooty about, I think. I had some in a garden I moved into it and became really rather fond of it. But then I’ve changed my view on so many plants over the years. I used to hate hellebores. Imagine! D

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A beautiful walk at the Priory David! It’s great to see that Frtillarias are doing well there and establishing nicely, which is not always easy to do. And that tulip that comes back every year is a treasure!


    • Hi Boys, yes I’m pleased that the Frits are doing so well. I guess in my mind’s eye I imagined the whole meadow bedecked with them but I guess that probably won’t happen till long after I’ve left. D


  7. Ah yes, the fritillary nibbler. I have one of those. With the same look of butter wouldn’t melt just after he has committed the crime.
    I have a lone erythronium too.
    Gorgeous pictures of the garden, looking so lush. It’s a wonderful time of year.


    • Thanks Rusty – lots of new growth now shredded by blustery cold winds. No two years are ever the same, are they? (I like my pheasants really. They’re safe within the garden – outside it and during the shooting season, sheesh). Dave


      • Yes, I was out during the worst of it trying to belatedly support the oriental poppies. I feed the pheasants during the shooting season to try to keep them close by. They are safe with me too. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Spring is slow to get up steam here too, but here (and at your garden too) it is definitely worth the wait. Thanks for sharing! 🙂 And now I realize that I gave up on the fritillaries at garden #2 much too soon; they are probably doing very well for the subsequent owner(s)!


  9. So beautiful and just what I would want a lovely UK garden to look like, too. You seem to be having a lush Spring there as I am here in the US/South, Georgia. Wish I could walk there and take pictures but thank you for sharing. Just such a treat to see a garden that is obviously loved and well cared for as is yours.


  10. A lovely post, full of wonderful springtime plants. I never thought to collect the Fritillaria seeds, but mine are only growing in the garden and they look so much better in a meadow. I have the same Erythronium in a very dry shady area and it has been magnificent this year, its second, with at least 10 flowers – not that I am trying to make you jealous at all! I really like the suckers that you have shaped – I wish my sycamore ones would look as good.


    • 10?! 10?! Very jealous. Mine’s about five years old – I’m hoping yours is twice that? I planted another variety at the same time and they’ve never flowered, not once – though the leaves appear every year. Drat! D


  11. There’s great joy in seeing a plant develop and flower or even survive. I wanted to do a cartwheel – unfortunately never been able to master this skill – when I discovered a vine starting to flourish that I thought had died. The Priory gardens are lovely David. Thank you for showing its delights.


    • You’re very welcome, Chris. If I could do a cartwheel, I would have done two this week. A couple of clematis which I was absolutely, completely and utterly sure were dead, reappeared. So that was nice.


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