The View from Here: an early May snapshot

For just a few fleeting weeks, green sings and has its moment in the sun. 

May 1st is considered in some quarters to mark the coming of summer.  The meteorological beginning of summer comes later, and this year’s weather would support that.  In this Corner of Cornwall there has been very little merry-making in the merry month of May.  May, thus far, has been cold and stern with northerly winds which carry a sharp bite and a nip of frost, which has blackened tender tips and kept me largely indoors.  But not always.  There have been interludes of sunshine even if temperatures have remained stubbornly low.

When the sun not only shines but warms, then I see May as she should be.  Driving about the countryside with the heat of the sun magnified as it streams through the glass, it’s been easy to slip into the spirit of spring.  I motor past wide verges carpeted with drifts of bluebells and I think of hazy impressionist paintings and festooned maypoles and girls in white dresses with circlets of flowers in their hair.

On foot, along my usual route, albeit a road less-travelled in recent weeks, when sunlight skips to the bees’ industrious drone, I watch May’s merry dance up close.  It’s been a good year for primroses and also for dandelions and celandine and buttercups.  But last year’s massed display of white stitchwort has stepped back and so have the ramsons.


White this year, is timorous in the dance, but yellow is in full flow, spikey and shining, palest lemon to deepest gold; yellow is in the limelight on May’s floral stage.


Campion and ragged robin, accents of pink, deep and solid, are liberally strewn.


Bright sparkles of deep blue twinkle from the borage stalks, softening to dots of speedwell and deepening to shy little violets.  Disregard their diminutive size and they make me think of irises.


And a single spread of forget-me-not, the colour of open skies.  Surely there is forget-me-not everywhere, but rarely do I see it here.


May is alive with layers of blue, epitomised by the purple-blue ribbons of massed bluebells.  These are creating a dappled display along the edge of the garden, (complete with flattened feline path).  And yet, if you ask me: what are the colours of May, as Margaret wrote about last weekend, I can’t simply offer a bouquet of blue.


May is crowned not only by the bluebells but by also the freshness of leaves on the trees.  Still unfurling and vibrant in their infancy, shades of lime, chartreuse and citrus proliferate among newly-dressed branches, with blocks of bronzed-red where the sycamore saplings spread themselves in the hedgerows and majestic oak boughs reveal tiny rosy leaves still tightly curled.


tree 2

Only now, in this first half of May, is the burgeoning growth so new that the leaves can dazzle in their brightness.  They are unsullied by wind and rain, heat and dust; the passing of insects, people, pollution and days.  It will not be long before lime deepens into malachite, chartreuse dulls into beryl; leaves lose their early flush of bronze and brightness and settle into the maturity of quieter shades.  For just a few fleeting weeks, green sings and has its moment in the sun.  And life is lifted because of it.  At least, when the sun shines.

trees 3


O, the month of May, the merry month of May,
So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green!

Thomas Dekker (c. 1572–1632)

35 thoughts on “The View from Here: an early May snapshot”

  1. A lovely post Sandra, and well worth waiting for. Thanks for the mention, but – isn’t it strange? In some ways our posts look at similar themes, but come at them from different angles. Your photos spell out the magic of a walk in springtime, with all those newly-minted flowers. But is that a dreaded Spanish bluebell lurking there? They’re getting rather widespread here.

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    1. You sent me scuttling off to Google and then scuttling round the garden, Margaret, and I think you are right: a Spanish bluebell (or cross) is indeed invading! If I’ve identified them correctly, the interlopers are in what loosely passes as a flower bed but the majority really do seem to be the traditional English variety. Now the question is: do I ruthlessly take out the Spanish ones…

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        1. Thanks, Margaret, Susan’s post reaffirms what I read yesterday. I definitely have both here and probably variations between the two, and – does it matter? There are many species of flora and fauna introduced from elsewhere over the centuries: at what point does an introduction earn its place? (Spanish bluebells having been here for 300 years already.) All of which offers grist to the mill if I get to the bluebell site I’m aiming for this week – one can never have too many bluebell posts!

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    1. I was very conscious as I was writing of how different May presents in various parts of the world. I find it hard to envisage it as anything but a month of warm spring sunshine yet of course it is autumn in the southern hemisphere and warmer still the closer we move to the equator. Next February-March, often the coldest and wettest part of our year, I shall think of your flood of flowers 🙂


    1. The sun is finally out properly today, Pat, here at least. And we are forecast a long stretch of it. This is May at its best. I hope you have the same 🙂 xx


  2. “For just a few fleeting weeks, green sings and has its moment in the sun. And life is lifted because of it” – I agree, and you have so lovingly written this post. Beautiful photos, too 🌷

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  3. You’re making the most of your sunny interludes, and being so generous to share them with us! It’s that chanteuses color that says “spring” to me–we have huge weeping willows along our road and they simply glow against bright blue sky. I can feel the winter chill seeping right out of my bones when I see that color!

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    1. Absolutely, Kerry; I love it too. Perhaps because it’s so fleeting. I’m glad to hear winter is finally releasing its grip for you 🙂


  4. Today, in glorious May sunshine, and with the gentlest of cool breezes, you’ve just allowed me to revisit my walk of an hour ago along the banks of the Usk, through fields and riverside woodland, with stitchwort, campion and bluebell all catching the eye, luminous in the shade. Wonderful descriptions and photos, thank you.

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  5. Quite lovely. Your description alone was enough to transport me, but the photos are glorious.

    I’ve been wondering about the ransomes around here, too. It’s seemed to me that they’re a little late, and I’m sure there are less than usual.

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    1. Yes, that’s my experience too, Cath. Later and fewer. Observing the changes in our local wildflower mix as year follows year is fascinating. The weather must play a central role causing a glut of one species which then overcrowds another. The cycles are never the same two years running. (I hope the ramsons return in force next spring; one of the few things I forage.)

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  6. How absolutely gorgeous – the flowers, your pictures, your words! It must be so much easier to calm down and enjoy life there than if you were living in London, say. In Romania we tend to think of 1st of May as the opening of the summer season and everyone goes to the seaside (we tend to have a few days off, celebrating Labour Day etc.). I miss those days! But of course the climate has become so unpredictable now that in Geneva they had snow on the 5th of May.

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    1. We are very lucky; it’s so very peaceful here. That said, everyone who has visited love the situation but most also say that they couldn’t live here; it’s too quiet! The idea of everyone going to the seaside sounds so lovely, and very traditional. You’re right, we certainly can’t rely on May opening in a blaze of hot sunshine. People did go to the seaside in February this year though. Every year seems more unsual than the last!

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    1. As are the autumn leaves, Carol, which seem more appropriate for where you are. But that has me wondering – I don’t have impression that there are many deciduous trees in South Africa; am I right?

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      1. Yes we are enjoying the golden days of autumn here. We don’t have many impressively colourful autumn trees as in many northern hemisphere autumns. We do have deciduous trees that drop their leaves in autumn, including of course many exotic trees in gardens and parks, but many of the indigenous deciduous trees drop their leaves rather suddenly in winter just before they get new leaves in spring, and so these changes are easier to overlook. Both autumn and spring seem rather to be relatively short transitions between summer and winter.

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  7. When I read your comment “the burgeoning growth so new that the leaves can dazzle in their brightness” it brought to mind one of my very favorite poems about Spring.

    Nothing Gold Can Stay
    by Robert Frost

    Nature’s first green is gold,
    Her hardest hue to hold.
    Her early leaf’s a flower;
    But only so an hour.
    Then leaf subsides to leaf.
    So Eden sank to grief,
    So dawn goes down to day.
    Nothing gold can stay.

    Spring’s first green, (usually leaves) are more yellow than green and look like flowers until fully opened. Thanks for the reminder of this verse.

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