12th May

Garden on a cool but sunny + still May morning. I’ve identified 8 different bird* species + seen at least 7 individual newts in the pond. Al

The newts were active during a warm spell in April but they disappeared during the cold start of May. I was worried they were dead. But now the males are in full glorious mating colours, the females more subdued and much more tricky to spot.

No toad spawn yet, though we heard a male making the mating call last night.
The azaleas are coming out, tulips just past their peak, marsh marigold in its prime.

Helen Moser coming into bloom
One of my favourite deciduous azaleas. Azalea luteum, beautiful colours and beautiful scent
This lavendula azalea has crowded out a smaller one but it’s now absolutely beautiful

One of the glories of the whole garden is our large Acer palmatum. It has thousands of tiny red flowers just before the leaves come out. At this time of year the delicate pale green leaves are so delightful against a blue sky with the sun shining through them. The flowers are gone but the seed heads will start to develop. We quite often get dozens of mini sycamore helicopters in autumn but none of them have germinated yet. I had always preferred the red or variagated varieties but this tree really changed my mind

Acer against the clear blue sky

The apple blossom is now at it’s peak too. Somehow it has not quite captured the imagination in the same way as the Japanese flowering cherry, but it absolutely deserves to.

This view reminded me slightly of van Gogh’s blossom painting, one of my favourites

2 years ago I planted up some native(ish) woodland undergrowth plants under the Acer to sort of mimic the tapestry of species you find in Scandinavian forests. We’re not quite there yet, but I was pleased to see how far my Solomon’s seal has come along. A plant I well remember from my childhood.

Solomon’s seal in the morning light

Underneath, the bleeding hearts (Dicentra spectabilis) have also spread and are looking really healthy now. In Danish these are called “lieutenant’s heart”, from the resemblance of the flowers at various stages to swords, champagne bottles and women – all a young lieutenant could desire apparently.


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