The Bloomers: May


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And so it begins in earnest.

May. When everything seems fit to burst. Just look at the silky sheen on those peony petals.


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Papaver ‘Patty’s Plum’

The poppies are billowing out too. A sigh of relief that this one has returned. It fell prey to my overhaul of the terraces last year, I moved it and paid the price.  Now it has several fat buds. Worth going out in the roaring gale last week with a pile of emergency link stakes.


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Iris ‘Hocus Pocus’

The plant fair season has begun as well.

There are some things that just can’t be left behind on the nurseryman’s bench.  But if ever there was an example of hope over experience then surely this is it. Last year, from the same plant fair, I purchased Iris ‘Death by Chocolate’. And what happened to that? It was in the garden a week. Max. Until the molluscs discovered it and gobbled the lot, leaving only the label sticking out of the ground. They can’t read. Obviously.


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Geum ‘Flames of Passion’, Lily of the Valley and, rising up from the level below, Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’


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Geum ‘Flames of Passion’


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Convallaria majalis, Lily of the Valley

The Lily of the Valley is still progressively in transit between the terraces, where it has outstayed its welcome, and the Precipitous Bank. But the move is on hold for now. Partly because I’ve enough other planting to do and partly on account of the scent. This patch in particular is just awesome. The fragrance almost knocks me over.


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Geranium (variety unknown)


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Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’

I love this plant so much I’ve just acquired three more. It’s a little different to the typical diminutive geum. It grows to almost a metre in height. But so reliable for me; the original is in its third year now.


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Euphorbia ‘Black Pearl’

Now here’s a weird one. It’s got Monster From The Deep written all over it. The fact that it seems to attract every fly for miles around doesn’t help its image a jot. But it does have a certain gothic charm.


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Camassia leichtlinii


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Astrantia major


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Lewisia tweedyi

From the alpine trough. The flowers are quite massive compared to the size of the plant. 5cms across.


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Moving up to the bank.. Enkianthus campanulatus

I saw this at Wisley many years ago and fell in love. It was one of the first shrubs I bought for this garden, about two days after the discovery of acid soil.


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Libertia grandiflora

Grown from seed and now a plant, several plants, a metre high. I never cease to marvel.


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Rhododendron luteum

On the woodland edge. It’s not a blowsy one. And it’s scented. What’s not to love?


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Epimedium ‘Amber Queen’




But perhaps the most spectacular sight is not in the main part of the garden at all. It’s deep within the woodland.


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A river of English bluebells


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A little late this year..


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..perhaps still a day or two off their peak


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Maybe we should just stop for a while today and take a moment to celebrate May in all its glory.

After all, it’s a year until it all comes around again..


Linking to Carol and Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens (here), where you will find many other May bloomers from around the world.


2017-10-24T19:32:47+00:00May 15th, 2015|Tags: |


  1. Rosie May 15, 2015 at 8:45 am - Reply

    Oh, how lovely – May is such a wonderful month isn’t it? Your peonies and Patty’s plum poppies are much more developed than ours but they are on the way. I love all your Geums, lily of the valley and the bluebells in your wood – wonderful:)

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 12:52 pm - Reply

      Thanks Rosie. May is the best month by far. I wish it was longer, would be happy to trade in some of February!

  2. bumbleandme May 15, 2015 at 9:09 am - Reply

    Your bluebells look fabulous! Ours are also in full bloom, and I love wandering around the wood to marvel at the bluebells. Mind you, they need to come with a caution: leaves very slippery, tread with caution!

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 12:54 pm - Reply

      Yes, the leaves are slippery. I try to avoid treading on them at all but they’ve made such a carpet now sometimes it’s impossible!

  3. Lea May 15, 2015 at 9:10 am - Reply

    I especially like the bluebells in the woods
    Happy Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day!

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 12:56 pm - Reply

      They are apparently one of the markers for an ancient woodland. There are a lot of trees here in a pretty bad state, we could have the tree surgeons in for a week. Thanks Lea.

  4. bushbernie May 15, 2015 at 9:28 am - Reply

    Gorgeous. I adored the Bluebells and that beautiful Papaver. The Geum, Lily of the Valley, Erysimum combination is simply lovely.

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 7:32 pm - Reply

      Thanks Bernie. That geum is on the move too, but I’ve decided to wait until its main flush of flowers is over. I’ll leave part of it where it is, but it’s done so well I reckon I can split it into five!

  5. CJ May 15, 2015 at 10:00 am - Reply

    Gorgeous, especially those English bluebells. The poppy is looking good as well. I have those exact same fat peony buds as well. The littlest boy likes to feel them as he goes past, they’re so perfectly round. Such a glorious time of year. CJ xx

    • CJ May 15, 2015 at 10:01 am - Reply

      Ooh, all of my details were pre-filled in that time I commented, so all I had to do was press the “Post” button. Just thought I’d mention it. CJ xx

      • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 7:39 pm - Reply

        Isn’t that weird? It’s nothing I’ve done, I wish I had. Perhaps WordPress have been eavesdropping!

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 7:37 pm - Reply

      Not only him… I’m also tempted to give them a squeeze. They really do look as though they are about to burst.

  6. Mark and Gaz May 15, 2015 at 10:35 am - Reply

    Beautiful blooms and ages Jessica! You can really feel the warmth and spring there!

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 7:41 pm - Reply

      It could do with getting a little warmer yet! Although it looks pleasant enough with the sun out there’s been a cool breeze today, really quite chilly.

  7. SeagullSuzie May 15, 2015 at 10:39 am - Reply

    You have such a great selection of plants Jessica, geums are one of my favourite and they are still in a couple of pots waiting for me to find them a suitable spot.

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 7:43 pm - Reply

      I find them irresistible.. I usually end up buying at least one more each year. There is one in the pot ghetto as I speak!

  8. Sue Garrett (SueatGLAllotments) May 15, 2015 at 10:50 am - Reply

    How lucky to have your own bluebell wood, Why is it that everyone seems to be able to grow flowering lily of the valley except me?

    Your astrantia and camassias are a bit ahead of ours but still it’s a lovely time of year,

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 7:46 pm - Reply

      I wish the camassias would last a bit longer, they seem to be over within a week. I’m wondering if it’s possible to collect and germinate seed although maybe they don’t come true.

  9. Backlane Notebook May 15, 2015 at 10:55 am - Reply

    Truly inspiring plants and stunning images-great post.

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 7:47 pm - Reply


  10. Sam Stanley May 15, 2015 at 11:58 am - Reply

    Gorgeous photos. Geums, Patty’s Plum, epimediums among my all-time fave plants. Inspiring. Thank you. Sam x

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 7:54 pm - Reply

      Thanks Sam!

  11. woolythymes May 15, 2015 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    our bluebells (of the Virginia sort) are long passed, but one of our faithful harbinger’s of spring that I ever so carefully transplanted from the woods nearby that were about to get ‘a road’……why would someone want a road over a field of bluebells?

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 7:57 pm - Reply

      Oh what a shame. I’m glad you were able to rescue some. Every year I say I will collect seed from ours and spread them around a bit. This year I absolutely must.

  12. Pauline May 15, 2015 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    Your bluebells are so beautiful, you can’t beat a bluebell wood in May! I must go and have a look at my P Patty’s Plum, I don’t think mine is flowering yet. Lily of the valley just won’t grow for me, I’ve tried a few times, but they fizzle out unfortunately, I will just have to enjoy yours!

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 8:00 pm - Reply

      I wish I could stop them Pauline! But they don’t mind a bit of shade so when I get to the woodland I hope I can just plant out a few and let them spread to their hearts’ content. Perfect ground cover!

  13. LINDA from EACH LITTLE WORLD May 15, 2015 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    No month is quite as glorious as May. Certainly for us Northern gardeners it is a treat after waiting for it all winter long. You’ve got a wonderful selection of plants and some that I am lusting after now.

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 8:26 pm - Reply

      In reality it’s still a bit sparse because the garden is so immature. But it will come.

  14. Jo May 15, 2015 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    I’ve gone through this post saying to myself, I want one of those, and those and those, you have some wonderful May bloomers. I’ve fallen in love with geum Totally Tangerine but I think it’s a little big for my garden, such a shame, and I still haven’t got the astrantia I’ve been promising myself for years. I’m pleased to see Patty’s Plum making an appearance again this year.

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 8:30 pm - Reply

      Totally Tangerine does get tall, but the flowers are on long stems and quite wispy. If you could find a spot for it where it can grow up behind something else, it doesn’t take up a lot of space. I have it in quite a dark corner, it does get sun most of the day but it’s against taller shrubs and really lights the whole area up.

  15. Dorothy @ The Nature of Things May 15, 2015 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    How beautiful May is in your garden. Happy Bloom Day.

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 8:31 pm - Reply

      Thanks Dorothy. May is just beautiful!

  16. Anne Wheaton May 15, 2015 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    Isn’t May just wonderful? I’ve always been strangely disappointed that Lily of the Valley smell just like Lily of the Valley scented soap. I think it’s the overpoweringness of it – I assumed the plants would be more subtle.

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 8:34 pm - Reply

      Having had a few pots of it indoors once I agree it can be overpowering. But outdoors it’s OK for me. I love that I can walk through a pool of scent on the way down a path. For some reason there are very few flower fragrances that I can pick up.. Lily of the Valley gets through!

  17. Peter/Outlaw May 15, 2015 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    It’s a grand time in temperate gardens and yours is no exception. Your blooms are all wonderful but who cannot swoon at the magical blue haze created by your English Bluebells? Happy GBBD!

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 8:36 pm - Reply

      They are very special, we are extremely lucky to have them and I’m wandering down the garden to look at them every morning at the moment! Thanks Peter.

  18. annincumbria May 15, 2015 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    Great pictures again thank you, it’s still cold and a bit breezy on my hill and the frost did for some of the early flowering perennials so I hope it warms up soon

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 8:41 pm - Reply

      Yes, it’s still chilly down here too. We escaped the frost but the following day’s wind and torrential rain left me bereft of quite a few blooms.

  19. Alison May 15, 2015 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    Oh, your bank of English bluebells is wonderful. You said it’s not at its peak yet, so please post again when it is. I don’t know why I never noticed before, but my Euphorbia attracts a lot of flies too. Mine has a bright red dot in the center, I love your darker one. Happy GBBD!

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 8:45 pm - Reply

      I am late to euphorbias, just really starting to appreciate their charms. This one looked so unusual I just had to have it.
      Looking back at last year’s pictures of the bluebell wood, they just seemed a bit more intense:

  20. Nell Jean May 15, 2015 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    So many pretty flowers and such grand presentations they make! Happy Bloom Day.

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 9:06 pm - Reply

      Thanks you Jean. May is the best month!

  21. Rosemary May 15, 2015 at 6:21 pm - Reply

    Lovely May bloomers Jessica – your Geranium looks like my Johnson’s Blue – now I am wondering what has happened to my lovely Camassia leichtlinii which having just seen yours has reminded me that I have not seen ours.

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 9:22 pm - Reply

      I tried to find the identity of the geranium, but there are so many that are similar. It was in the garden when we arrived. But it is a lovely shade of blue.

  22. Christina May 15, 2015 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    I love the bluebell wood; is it yours? If so I am seriously envious. I usually try to get to the UK to see the bluebells, I just love them, but this year I was too early. I am also a bit envious of the wonderful Iris ‘Hocus Pocus’. who did you buy is from? it is an amazing colour combination, I’ve never seen one anything like that. I do agree about stopping to enjoy May, just about everything is flowering here. ENJOY!

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 9:43 pm - Reply

      Yes, the bluebell wood is ours. I didn’t realise we had it until after we moved in, having bought the house in winter. They seem to be doing well and spreading nicely.
      I’ve just been out with a torch to check the label of the Iris (really an excuse to top up my wine glass on the way back..). I bought it from here: but at a fair rather than mail order. Looks like they do ship outside of the UK but it might be costly! It’s a dwarf variety 25cms.

  23. Sol May 15, 2015 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    Oh Jessica, what a lovely lot of pictures. My favourites are the Iris and the lily of the valley. But doesnt the picture of the peony just spell ‘hope’ of what will be? Like a promise. I feel a poem coming on.

    Stunning pictures today. love it.

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 9:48 pm - Reply

      Thanks Sol. I felt exactly the same way about the peony. It sums up May for me.. 🙂

  24. Kris P May 15, 2015 at 7:35 pm - Reply

    Everything is SO beautiful! You have so many of the plants I covet but can’t grow: Camassia, Astrantia and peonies! (I suffer from a bad case of peony envy every year at this time.) That Enkianthus is spectacular.

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 9:50 pm - Reply

      Why is it we always want what we can’t have? I feel exactly the same about the plants in your garden!

  25. CherryPie May 15, 2015 at 8:51 pm - Reply

    Your garden is certainly full of beautiful bloomers 🙂

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      Thanks Cherie. In truth, only parts of it are colourful. Bringing together the pictures of the best bits creates a false impression!

  26. Cheryl West May 15, 2015 at 10:21 pm - Reply

    Gorgeous photos once again. May is the best month and the blooms go by too quickly. I love the layout of your blog with large photos. Please continue in the same way. I’ve never been successful with astrancia here in New England but we do have very good enkianthus. Lewisia is another struggle for me here. Your pictures are a joy and inspiration.

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 9:54 pm - Reply

      I can’t believe we are halfway through May already. Where has it gone? I love enkianthus, for the gorgeous autumn colour too.

  27. mattb325 May 15, 2015 at 10:43 pm - Reply

    Just perfect – I love the geums – so delicate and yet demanding attention at the same time. I am sorry to hear that Iris ‘death by chocolate’ became ‘death by mollusc’. Hopefully they have enough in reserve to reshoot….which reminds me to go and spray some coffee on the leaves of my newly planted irises….snails hate coffee. You are very lucky to have peonies and enkianthus/rhododendrons all in bloom….just lovely!

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 9:59 pm - Reply

      Sadly Death by Chocolate is… deceased. You are the second person to suggest coffee today and it’s a resource I have in abundance. What do you do with it, mix the grounds with water?

  28. pbmgarden May 15, 2015 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    Wonderful photos–loved seeing all of your flowering wonders. Euphorbia ‘Black Pearl’ is striking.

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 10:01 pm - Reply

      It is isn’t it. It’s a new purchase but it’s proving hard to place. I walked round the garden for half an hour today with it in tow but couldn’t find the right spot. I will though..

  29. Alana Mautone (@RamblinGarden) May 15, 2015 at 11:09 pm - Reply

    Oh, English bluebells! Something on my “bucket list”. I love your photos, especially the one of the lilies of the valley. Ours should be in bloom any day now. Today, on a walk, I saw buds on peonies. Both are ahead of their normal time here in upstate New York. May is the best month!

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 10:04 pm - Reply

      Your Spring must be really short… long winter and then virtually straight into summer. It amazes me that anything survives at all under all that snow.

  30. Ray May 16, 2015 at 4:21 am - Reply

    The Euphorbia knocks me out (and your decription cracks me up.) I never really looked at them as close as you have with your photo.

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 10:57 pm - Reply

      Hi Ray and welcome to rusty duck!
      I bought it because it looks so unusual. But it needs a backdrop that isn’t green if it is to stand out in the garden. More easily said than done!

  31. Island Threads May 16, 2015 at 9:39 am - Reply

    oh Jessica, so much, where to start, I think the bluebell wood, the dappled shade, the babbling brook, and the wondrous sight and smell of the bluebells, sigh…………..

    you have beautiful photos of beautiful blooms, it all looks perfect, I really can not pick favourites as they are all lovely even the euphorbia, enjoy your May garden, Frances

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 11:10 pm - Reply

      It’s quite cool here at the moment. I suppose that’s better for gardening, I don’t enjoy working so much when it’s hot. But it doesn’t feel much like May. Maybe it’s better for the plants too.. I am moving stuff around for England again!!

  32. homeslip May 16, 2015 at 9:49 am - Reply

    Just wonderful, and brilliant photography as always. I kept bumping into Enkianthus campanulatus yesterday, at Killerton and again at Stourhead. The flowers are such a pretty and unusual colour and combined well with darker plummier colours. And you have bluebells in your woodland! We’ve been down in Cornwall and walking the coastal path in West Penwith and the cliff tops are smothered and spangled with flowers, including bluebells. It’s a great blog Jessica, words and pictures are perfectly balanced and commenting has never been a problem.

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 11:17 pm - Reply

      Oh, the coast path sounds wonderful! There is just such an overwhelming amount of stuff to do at the moment we haven’t taken a break. Criminal, living down here!
      Thank you for your kind words Sarah.

  33. 1secondhandrose May 16, 2015 at 1:06 pm - Reply


    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 11:24 pm - Reply

      Thanks Rose. I hope all is well with you.

  34. Caro May 16, 2015 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    I’m so glad that you mentioned how big ‘Totally Tangerine’ can get. I fell in love with this at one of the RHS shows last year (it was displayed with forget me nots) and scooped one up from Hardy’s at the Chelsea Flower Show. It’s still in it’s pot until I decide where it will go but my other geums are all getting a bit massive. I didn’t know that when I planted them :-/ Brave of you to move your poppy, they really don’t like it. I killed one of mine earlier this year because it had taken up residence in the herb bed and needed to be shunted elsewhere. It’s now dead. Naughty, naughty gardener me.

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 11:29 pm - Reply

      It was the lesser of two evils with the poppy. It was either move it or have it continually remind me that I’d put it in the wrong place. They have a long tap root, I was amazed and very pleased that it survived!

  35. Angie May 16, 2015 at 8:42 pm - Reply

    Lily of the Valley = Bane of my life!
    Your garden is looking spectacular Jessica, you are miles ahead of me up here. G. TT is my new love this month – planted last autumn it has just started flowering and I love it!! You’ve prompted me to make for Patty’s Plum at the top of the garden first thing tomorrow, I had forgot all about it and I must see if I’ve any buds. Your garden is just a joy this May.

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 11:32 pm - Reply

      Lily of the Valley = and mine!
      Thanks Angie.

  36. Cathy May 16, 2015 at 10:25 pm - Reply

    Blooming lovely!

    • Jessica May 16, 2015 at 11:39 pm - Reply

      Thank you!

  37. jannaschreier May 17, 2015 at 2:04 am - Reply

    I’m properly jealous now. May in England is my favourite, favourite season. All that growth and anticipation. Your photos are wonderful; I just want to come and absorb your garden!

    • Jessica May 17, 2015 at 10:23 pm - Reply

      If it’s any consolation, it’s been a cold May so far!! I do know what you mean though, it’s my favourite month too. Everything looks so fresh.

  38. ontheedgegardening May 17, 2015 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    Great photos! As I strolled down I was thinking “that is my favourite, that is my favourite….” Now I am very confused. Shall we just say that they are all my favourites. 🙂

    • Jessica May 17, 2015 at 10:30 pm - Reply

      Thanks Gill. The woodlanders are rapidly becoming my favourites. Shame their season is so short.

  39. Denise May 17, 2015 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    You have solved a plant identity problem for me – the little bluey-purple geranium! I’ve got some in the front garden and now I know what they are! Genius!!

    • Jessica May 17, 2015 at 10:32 pm - Reply

      If you ever discover the variety let me know!

  40. Karen at Lady of LaMancha May 17, 2015 at 10:09 pm - Reply

    That river of bluebells is amazing. One question: why would you ever expect your new irises NOT to be eaten if their name has the word “chocolate” in it? They sound positively yummy! Love that photo with the geum and lily of the valley.

    • Jessica May 17, 2015 at 10:36 pm - Reply

      You have a point. I thought maybe the threat of imminent death would put the slugs off. But seemingly not. The new one is planted within a copper ring that is then filled with ‘Slug Gone’. Belt and braces. We shall see.

  41. Virginia May 18, 2015 at 1:58 am - Reply

    What gorgeous photos! Love the bee! Do you react to the Euphorbia? My husband came out in a terrible rash and we had to get a gardner in to remove it. She “togged up” completely before she went near the thing. Apparently many people are allergic to it. Obviously the insects like it!

    • Jessica May 18, 2015 at 2:22 pm - Reply

      Thank you for the caution. I don’t think I am but I try to be careful with it nevertheless, gloves on for planting etc. It’s probably also going up on the bank where it won’t cause harm to anyone else. The insects seem to adore it!

  42. Anna May 18, 2015 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    I enjoyed your May time flowers Jessica. Thanks for jogging my ailing memory. This has to be the year for me to track down geum ‘Totally Tangerine’!

    • Jessica May 18, 2015 at 10:09 pm - Reply

      You won’t regret it.. it’s a stunner. 🙂

  43. Lily Lau May 18, 2015 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    Aww Jessica, you take such spectacular photos! 🙂

    • Jessica May 18, 2015 at 10:17 pm - Reply

      You’re very kind Lily, thank you.

  44. snowbird May 20, 2015 at 8:19 pm - Reply

    Everything is looking heavenly, but being a bluebell fan I have to say I lingered on those pics longest!
    I seem to have fallen behind on your posts, for some reason I still don’t receive email notifications of your posts…..I shall just have to remember to visit!xxx

    • Jessica May 22, 2015 at 2:48 pm - Reply

      I wish I knew what was happening, you’re still subscribed, I’ve checked again. Have you tried cancelling it and re-subscribing? Thanks snowbird.

  45. Julieanne May 20, 2015 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    Pure garden porn… Cor, nice plants. 🙂

    • Jessica May 22, 2015 at 2:48 pm - Reply

      Best time of year!

  46. Linda May 21, 2015 at 12:44 am - Reply

    Visiting you is never boring…
    Your plants…and your photos….are exquisite!
    Seriously… put me to shame, Jessica!
    But…I did get new glasses! Hahaha!
    I will now fill in my details, in order to publish this comment…
    Well worth the extra seconds….for sure!
    Enjoy the rest of your week…
    Linda :o)

    • Jessica May 22, 2015 at 2:51 pm - Reply

      Thanks Linda.

  47. Polly May 21, 2015 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    Beautiful, absolutely beautiful plants and brilliant photography. I never tire of visiting your garden.

    • Jessica May 22, 2015 at 2:52 pm - Reply

      You’re very kind, thanks Polly.

  48. threadspider May 21, 2015 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    Oh wow, I would walk across broken glass for that Iris! What a beauty. I love all your featured plants and I share your love of May as the best month.

    • Jessica May 22, 2015 at 2:53 pm - Reply

      Please don’t do that! If it survives I’ll send you a bit! 🙂

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