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May - in the garden this month

At last things are bursting forth in the gardens. There is much to see and more to come. The building site around our entrance has been an unsightly distraction for many months, but the raised beds in the car park (we call them the T beds) have had a total revamp. These were first planted in 2011 when the shop and café building was built, and though they looked wonderful at first many plants have petered out and the stronger ones have taken over. Darren has completely replanted these beds with an interesting mixture of herbaceous perennials and grasses. The earth here is stony and inhospitable, and the site surprisingly cold and windy, but it does have one advantage – it is generally untroubled by rabbits. You may have noticed chicken wire around various plantings elsewhere in the gardens. This has proved necessary to allow plants to establish and grow to a size where they can cope with being nibbled. Rabbits are a serious menace here.

Spring bulbs in pots continue to give colour, especially tulips and anemones. The anemones will return reliably every year and are also good for cutting. There is always a slight lull in the garden after the bulbs go over and before the surge of summer perennials come into flower, but this gap can be filled with autumn sown biennials and hardy annuals. Ammi and Cerinthe (Honeywort) are good examples flowering now in the gardens. Both are easy to grow and will self-seed around gently without ever becoming a nuisance. Foxgloves also fit the bill.

A completely new garden is emerging above the glasshouse, accessed from the woodland terrace. This is a moon garden. It is planted with the palest shades of blue, cream, white and silver. Many of these plants are also fragrant, and the garden will be a romantic and peaceful space to stroll and sit. However, the creation of this space has been far from peaceful and has required a great deal of effort and energy. Massive amounts of scrub, tree roots, brambles and debris had to be removed before the soil could be prepared and the paths and beds laid out.