May in the Garden: all along the banks

Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination.

And so to my early plans for the garden.  Perhaps because they’re the first things one sees, but most probably because it is here that spring-time has given us the most to enjoy thus far, I find it’s the welcoming banks along the drive that have claimed my attention and imagination.

The banks are green and mossy and I love them; they imitate the steep-rising banks along so many of the roads in the area.  When we arrived, they were spattered with a few stands of sorry-looking daffodils, which were mostly blind this spring.  I think I shall remove them and start again: replanting in the autumn with shorter varieties whose height will be more in keeping with the rise of the ground.  We also have plenty of primroses all along the banks.  Primroses are everywhere here; and ours, like the daffodils, are almost certainly wild.  They fill me with joy and good cheer.

As April waned and May waxed, the primroses proliferated and bluebells joined their ranks.  A few ferns are unfurling.


By the end of May, red and white campion take centre stage and the tiny deep-blue faces of speedwell are strung through the grass, which itself grows longer by the day.   Rosettes of green foxglove leaves, again self-seeded, are waiting in the wings.  I want to add more to the banks, which are the first things we see as we arrive, but I want to keep it  natural and native.

Clumps of small daffodils, drifts of snowdrops and clusters of aconites will bring flowers into view from the earliest point of the year but my overarching aim will be to replicate the natural banks lining the roads as much as I can.   I was very keen to have hellebores here too initially, but I think they will be out of keeping and now they have a spot of their own.

Maybe some more ferns though – the roadside banks are filled with ferny fronds at the moment.  And cowslips: I love cowslips and I’ve never grown any.  I’ve found a wonderful website which specializes in native wildflowers.  I’ll be a regular visitor!  My first visit resulted in clumps of snowdrops in the green and cowslip plugs.  The little plugs are growing strongly, safe in their pots while they await my decision on their permanent home but they will be somewhere in this vicinity I’m sure.

At present I don’t see any summer or autumn-flowering plants here.  I see a cool, green, relaxed impression for this space through the summer months; there’s space enough elsewhere for the summer excesses.  Some sort of fiery, autumnal display would be good though: my current thinking is that this will come from shrubs and trees.

But we’ll wait and see.  Watching the roadsides as the year progresses may give me inspiration and change my current thoughts entirely.   Perhaps there are already plants in place ready and waiting for the seasons to pass and their moment in the spotlight.  One of the joys of inheriting a garden is watching through the first year to see what will push forth and delight (or horrify) us!

Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination.

Mrs. C.W. Earle, Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden, 1897

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