May is Bloomin’ Lovely


Crab Apple. Or it might be a cherry.

I’ve never known for sure. Tiny round fruits follow the blooms but they never mature sufficiently to identify. Any ideas? Whatever it is, from the beginning of May it makes my heart sing.

May. My favourite month. I guess most of us in the Northern Hemisphere would say the same. And we’re half way through already. How on earth did that happen then? On balance the weather has been good, even hot. As always after a hot spell I’m already craving rain, much as I complain about it when we have it in abundance. But working up on the bank yesterday I was having to hack the weeds out of the soil.



Convallaria majalis, Lily of the Valley

Everywhere I go right now I’m enveloped in scent. Lily of the Valley does so well here there are now several established patches as a result of my digging it up and moving it around. Given it thrives in shade it’s unlikely to run out of potential real estate anytime soon.



Another shade lover, Polygonatum x hybridum ‘Striatum’. The variegated Soloman’s Seal. It could look rather good with the Lily of the Valley now I come to think of it.



Back out in the low evening sunshine there’s a new cascade up on the bank: Geum ‘Flames of Passion’. Another plant which responds well to division and bulking up. Seen here with softening wisps of Stipa tenuissima.



It’s geum month: Geum ‘Eden Valley Angel’, picking up the red tints in the new foliage of the epimedium behind it.



Geum ‘Apricot Delight’

I’m loving this bit of the top terrace border at the moment. Alongside the geum, Ajuga, Cerastium tomentosum (Snow in Summer) and a bronze leaved Carex.



Silene dioica

The bluebells from the last post have been joined by another wildflower this week.. red campion. Beautiful in the wilder areas but expires messily and seeds for England. It would fill your garden if you let it.



Pink we can do. Inherited peony, NoID.

It’s kinder on the eye when it’s faded a bit. Honest.



Also inherited, a NoID rhododendron but planted there by me.. back when it was small. I found it as a self layer when I rummaged through the soil underneath the parent plant. I’m contemplating banishing moving it into the woodland.



Azalea NoID



Enkianthus campanulatus

Now that’s better.. Another balance I struggle with. Brazen blooms create drama and draw one in from a distance but my preference tends toward the more delicate. Simple flowers that often need seeking out.



Corydalis temulifolia ‘Chocolate Stars’

A corydalis with a difference. The name comes from the foliage which turns bronzy in winter, becoming green again as the flowers emerge in late Spring. At up to 18″ tall it’s also larger than most.



Iris sibirica



Magnolia laevifolia

There was a plant fair at RHS Rosemoor last weekend. I went with good intentions, I really did. And I did purchase another Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ to turn an existing pair into a designery clump of three. Plus a Monarda to replace one that inconveniently succumbed to the Beast From The East. Or to the bunnies. But then there was this. Could I resist it? Well of course not. Where else was I going to find a choice magnolia for under a tenner? It will grow (hopefully) into a large shrub providing a significant presence on the bank and even better, it is strongly scented. What’s not to love?


And finally..



Itoh Peony ‘Pastel Splendor’

Itoh watch commences for a second year. There are eight buds in total. Three on this plant but five on another I got half price in a sale. Go figure.


Happy May!


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


2018-05-15T08:31:02+00:00May 15th, 2018|Tags: |


  1. janesmudgeegarden May 15, 2018 at 9:15 am - Reply

    What a gorgeous collection of spring things,Jessica. I’m entranced by the geums, especially Flames of Passion on the bank.

    • Jessica May 15, 2018 at 9:34 pm - Reply

      That’s my favourite one too, the colour is divine.

  2. Virginia May 15, 2018 at 9:55 am - Reply

    Oh My Goodness!! May is blooming, isn’t it!! That red campion – Silene dioica – looks at first glance like a cheap $2shop (they’re probably £1 shops over your way!) cut out plastic flower. I’ve never seen anything like it. I love the geum too – do they cut for vases? I love flowers inside, but can’t bear to cut them unless the plant is prolific and can cope with a haircut without looking too sad.

    • Jessica May 15, 2018 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      Yes, they’re £1 shops. Which makes sense given the exchange rate.
      I’m in the same place with cut flowers. Many of the plants here are relatively new additions and for many years haven’t been of a size where I’ve wanted to cut anything. Even now I am reluctant. The blooms generally last much longer if they’re still connected to the plant. I’ve never tried cutting geum. The stems are quite wiry so I don’t know. They’re also rather short. It would have to be a small vase. But you’ve got me intrigued now. Worth an experiment!

  3. Mark and Gaz May 15, 2018 at 11:09 am - Reply

    Beautiful blooms and Happy May to you too!

    • Jessica May 15, 2018 at 9:43 pm - Reply

      I only wish May was longer!

  4. Mary May 15, 2018 at 11:13 am - Reply

    As always, loving the grand variety of plants in your garden. Scrolling your wonderful photos is like a walk through a garden.

    • Jessica May 15, 2018 at 9:45 pm - Reply

      Thanks Mary. It’s taken quite a few years to build up the variety, with many failures along the way. Perhaps now I am finally learning which plants love me and which don’t!

  5. Christina May 15, 2018 at 11:46 am - Reply

    Love your Geums, as they’re on your bank do you think they might survive here? I’ve always admired them but I don’t think I’ve seen many other than the wonderful Totally Tangerine.

    • Jessica May 15, 2018 at 9:54 pm - Reply

      Flames of Passion (the one on the bank) is the most vigorous geum I’ve ever had. It could well work for you. This part of the bank is by far the driest and sunniest part of the garden and it does much better here than its original position in the terraces. It does have irrigation but I’m not sure how effective that is.. it’s pretty much at the end of the pipe run and the water has to be pushed uphill! Possibly the heavy rain in April helped the cause, I’ve never seen it looking as good as it does this year.

  6. Henriet from Holland May 15, 2018 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    I’d say crab apple. From the many (wild and decorative) cherry blossom photo’s on the internet I get the impression that cherry twigs are not so smooth and straight . Lovely anyway!

    • Jessica May 15, 2018 at 9:57 pm - Reply

      Many thanks Henriet. I’ve a cherry tree elsewhere in the garden and thinking about it now I’m quite sure you are right. My cherry gets a little further along with its fruit but, as is so often the way, the blackbirds get them long before we do!

  7. Linda B. from Each Little World May 15, 2018 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    Your geums are lovely. I think you have more variety available where you are, so I am going to have to go searching online as I love the apricot. And that swath of them is just a beautiful image. We’ve had the rain and now the heat is coming so I should finally see what has made it or not made it through our miserable winter.

    • Jessica May 15, 2018 at 10:30 pm - Reply

      You have suffered the most exceptional, and long, winter. I hope you will be pleasantly surprised. We have had temperatures that have been low for us and I’ve lost some plants but mostly the garden seems to have risen above it. Spring feels as though it will be short. We are still getting nights with a frost risk and yet the days already feel almost summer like.

  8. FlowerAlley May 15, 2018 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    These were all lovely. There is an ocean between us, but we have similar flowers.

    • Jessica May 15, 2018 at 10:32 pm - Reply

      We must have very similar climate zones. I think you possibly have the edge!

  9. Peter Herpst May 15, 2018 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    May is speeding by too quickly in the garden (maybe a little too slowly for students and teachers looking forward to summer break in July.) I’m so glad you brought home Magnolia laevifolia as it’s such a lovely thing and the fragrance wafts beautifully over the garden this time of year. May you be happy together for many years to come! Happy GBBD!

    • Jessica May 15, 2018 at 10:46 pm - Reply

      I did think I had something with the magnolia given the interest that was expressed in it at the fair. Elbows may have been (gently) brought into play. And then having successfully acquired it I left it with Mike for safe keeping while I went back for more (he finds a cafe table, newspaper and coffee thereby providing me with a creche facility) and people were coming across and asking him about it! He had to show them the plant tag. Doh. I’m very relieved to hear I picked out a goody.

  10. plantbirdwoman May 15, 2018 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    That crab apple (cherry?) just screams “Spring!” And all those geum blossoms – just lovely. Happy Bloom Day.

    • Jessica May 15, 2018 at 10:50 pm - Reply

      Thanks Dorothy. I can’t get enough of Spring.

  11. Heyjude May 15, 2018 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    I love visiting your garden, such a treat! The Geums are marvellous, the variegated Soloman’s Seal is gorgeous, but my favourite has to be the delicate flowers of the Enkianthus or maybe the cherry/crab apple or…. and yes, May is the most perfect of months. I only wish it lasted twice as long.

    • Jessica May 15, 2018 at 10:54 pm - Reply

      Absolutely. It seems we still have nights like winter but days like summer. I suppose that is what Spring is all about. It’s a bit seat of the pants but if I could find somewhere where it’s May all year I would move tomorrow.

  12. Denise Maher May 15, 2018 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    I now have a case of full-blown geum envy!

    • Jessica May 15, 2018 at 10:56 pm - Reply

      They are gorgeous and I’m an addict. I find it almost impossible to pass a new one in a nursery without having it.

  13. Kris P May 15, 2018 at 6:14 pm - Reply

    And here I was happy just to see a couple of buds on my Geum. Clearly, yours is the climate for them, not mine! To say I’m suffering from peony envy is also an understatement. Even my Majorcan peony seems intent on disappointing me this year and the attention I’ve lavished on my Itoh peony appears to have been wasted (although I’m still not prepared to give up on it). The contrast between your crab apple/cherry tree and the fruit trees here is also pronounced – our fruit trees largely failed to bloom this year. Ugh, the travails of climate change! Enjoy your beautiful blooms Jessica!

    • Jessica May 15, 2018 at 11:07 pm - Reply

      No, don’t give up on your Itoh. They are more than worth fighting for. I found another bud today so the total goes to nine. But Kris, your garden is to die for. You have many, many more blooms than I could ever hope to achieve. Not much adapts to being constantly under water.

  14. derrickjknight May 15, 2018 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    I don’t know whether I am more in awe of the photography or the gardening

    • Jessica May 15, 2018 at 11:10 pm - Reply

      The light was in my favour yesterday evening. It was sublime.

  15. Ali May 15, 2018 at 7:51 pm - Reply

    LOVE Geum ‘Flames of Passion’! Beautiful hanging heads and dusky apricot.

    • Jessica May 15, 2018 at 11:13 pm - Reply

      Isn’t it lovely? ‘Flames of Passion’ is really vigorous too. I’ve already divided the original into six plants (the ones on the bank) and it’s almost ready to do again.

  16. wherefivevalleysmeet May 15, 2018 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    This year all of the flowers and trees appear better than ever after having waited for them to appear for what seemed such a long time – love everyone of your images, they are beautiful Jessica.

    • Jessica May 15, 2018 at 11:17 pm - Reply

      Thanks Rosemary. I do wonder if having a ‘proper’ winter has actually been good for the garden. I did lose some plants along the way but many others seem to be doing better than they have for years.

  17. snowbird May 15, 2018 at 10:45 pm - Reply

    Goodness, what beautiful plants, I think everyone of them here hit the spot for me. My geums haven’t a bud on them yet! I know what you mean about longing for a little rain, overnight of course! Especially love the peonies, chocolate stars and oh….that magnolia you just bought, all to absolutely die for!!!xxx

    • Jessica May 15, 2018 at 11:25 pm - Reply

      We had so much rain over winter didn’t we, and early Spring. But it doesn’t take long for it to dry out. The irrigation helps a bit but it isn’t the same as a solid day of rain. Perhaps we should be careful what we wish for!

  18. Alana Mautone (@RamblinGarden) May 15, 2018 at 11:57 pm - Reply

    It’s hard for me to tell cherry and crabapple blossoms, too. I depend on the bark. I’m not too great on bark ID but cherry bark is pretty distinctive – somewhat smooth; you’ll know it if you see it. We are a few days away from lilies of the valley where I live but I so love their scent.

    • Jessica May 16, 2018 at 8:07 pm - Reply

      Thanks for that Alana, I will go and take a closer look at the bark tomorrow. They are trees which were buried in a mini forest of rapidly growing conifers. It’s amazing they’ve survived at all really.

  19. Gerrie Mackey May 16, 2018 at 12:06 am - Reply

    What a wonderful Spring display … Lovely to Have a “photo walk” through your garden, so much colour and variety. The germs are pretty .. I’m not familiar with them. The light is beautiful too….enjoy every moment of Spring and thanks for the inspiration.

    • Jessica May 16, 2018 at 8:10 pm - Reply

      It’s been such an odd Spring. It’s taken ages to arrive and now seems to be passing so quickly. But there are some sunny days in the forecast so I shall definitely be out there enjoying it.

  20. ks May 16, 2018 at 1:35 am - Reply

    Oh those Geums are quite lovely !

    • Jessica May 16, 2018 at 8:13 pm - Reply

      They are. Some of my favourite late Spring blooms. All the better that they bulk up so quickly and let me spread them around. They look so much better now I have enough for some decent sized drifts.

  21. […] heart, primrose, fairybells … … Led Up the Garden Path (Devon, England) … Rusty Duck, with so many gorgeous photos of gorgeous flowers (also in Devon, England) … A Guide to […]

    • Jessica May 16, 2018 at 8:19 pm - Reply

      Thank you!

  22. Linda P May 16, 2018 at 10:46 am - Reply

    What a lovely collection of flowers now in bloom in your garden! So glad that lots of your plants are thriving and giving pleasure. I’m sad that the lily-of-the-valley I planted in the ground under the fig tree given to me by a daughter some seasons ago in honour of my birthday month doesn’t appear to have survived let alone spread, but I’m pleased with those flowers that are doing well in our garden right now. A visit to the garden centre is on my list of things to do now we’re back from Italy! Wishing you a happy May, Jessica. Thanks for the wonderful, uplifting photos. Very inspiring.

    • Jessica May 16, 2018 at 8:26 pm - Reply

      Hi Linda and welcome home. Lily of the Valley is fickle. It seems it will either spread like wildfire or just give up the ghost. It has chosen the first option in my two most recent gardens, both of which have had heavy clay soil. But it is far more vigorous here, with plenty of moisture and a lean towards the acidic. I don’t know if that helps any. It’s a beautiful plant to have, for the scent and its ability to really light up shady corners.

  23. Chloris May 16, 2018 at 8:51 pm - Reply

    May is my favourite month too, I wish it would slow down, it’s rushing past . Yes, definitely a crab apple, what colour are the fruit? And is your azalea fragrant? It looks like Azalea luteum which smells divine. You have some gorgeous geums, I must look out for them . Lovely May blooms.

    • Jessica May 17, 2018 at 9:35 pm - Reply

      The fruit have never come to anything beyond tiny green swellings. Either they drop off or are swallowed long before they develop any other colour. I shall have to be more vigilant this year and see if I can discover what happens to them. Not Azalea luteum, I have that and it is gorgeously fragrant but hasn’t bloomed at all this year, damn it.

  24. Susan Garrett May 16, 2018 at 11:29 pm - Reply

    I think a crab apple too, cherry blossom is generally just white and in clusters. I love lily of the valley. It’s my birthday flower and my mum always pocked a spray for my birthday but I can’t seem to grow them ion our garden.

    • Jessica May 17, 2018 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      Happy Birthday! I don’t know why Lily of the Valley is so fickle but it definitely is. If it makes you feel any better, when it is invasive it is a real problem. It can literally take over a border. A couple of years back I dug out the whole of the top terrace to try and get rid of it. And it’s still there..

  25. Lisa May 17, 2018 at 12:03 am - Reply

    I’d say not a cherry. I say that because only recently I learned that cherry leaves have nectar glands, which look like raised red blisters! I thought something was wrong with my tree, since it was only planted last year. Your photos are gorgeous! Now I must have that geum “Flames of Passion!” I won’t have room for vegetable in my beds at this rate.

    • Jessica May 17, 2018 at 9:53 pm - Reply

      Hi Lisa. Last year I decided to have a year off from veggies and use the raised beds as a nursery bed for new plants. And guess what.. they’re still there! Not only that but I’ve added to them this year. I can’t help collecting plants, there is no hope for me. The slugs ate all the veg anyway. Thanks for the info on the cherry. I shall go looking for red blisters.

  26. Freda May 17, 2018 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    I did enjoy that tour of your garden and your superb photographs. If you split a fruit when it forms from your tree cherries have one stone, apples have pips. crab apple branches also have spurs which look quite thorn like. Lovely blossom.

    • Jessica May 17, 2018 at 9:55 pm - Reply

      That’s great advice Freda, thank you. When the fruits form this year I shall be prepared and let you know what I find.

  27. ginaferrari May 17, 2018 at 10:04 pm - Reply

    May is indeed a wonderful month and your garden is glorious!

    • Jessica May 21, 2018 at 7:16 pm - Reply

      Thanks Gina. There’s always something in May. Even the weeds are flowering!

  28. Arun Goyal May 18, 2018 at 5:31 pm - Reply

    What a lovely collection of flowers …your page is so much interesting to look into and adore

    • Jessica May 21, 2018 at 7:16 pm - Reply

      You’re very kind Arun. Thank you and welcome!

  29. Cathy May 20, 2018 at 9:33 am - Reply

    Geum Flames of Passion drew me across to the plant section at our local garden centre this week when I had gone in for non-plant things – I did resist, but seeing yours there is a good chance I will go back for it! Thanks Jessica 😀

    • Jessica May 21, 2018 at 7:18 pm - Reply

      Go back.. it’s the most vigorous and floriferous of any geum I’ve ever had. And I’ve had a few.. 🙂

  30. Jenni May 21, 2018 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    Drat. Now I’m going to have to look for this delightful geum that you’ve pictured. Geum ‘Flames of Passion’….the shade of color is perfect for my garden and I’ve had good luck with geum’s performing well. Obviously I should expand my collection 😉 Happy GBBD late! I’m getting around to visiting my favorite blogs. I hear it’s been quite dry in the UK? I hope a little rain comes your way to soften the ground for all those goodies you’ve recently purchased.

    • Jessica May 21, 2018 at 10:20 pm - Reply

      Unbelievably, yes it’s been dry. When it comes to me pleading for rain then it must be extremely dry! Our clay soil doesn’t help. I can kind of cope where the plants are plumbed into the irrigation but in many areas of the garden they’re not and I’m spending an increasing number of hours hauling watering cans about. Please do seek out ‘Flames of Passion’. It will be worth it!

  31. restlessjo May 22, 2018 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    Love all the geums, Jess, and that pretty chocolate stars too. So much joy in all of it. Definitely 3 cheers for May! 🙂 🙂

    • Jessica May 22, 2018 at 10:05 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jo. Haven’t we been lucky with the weather lately? Although it feels we moved from winter straight into summer. Spring (my favourite season) has been far too short.

  32. Val May 26, 2018 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    I’ve missed your blog, I was following via a different one, now private.
    All are wonderful but the rhododendron’s the best, for me. 🙂
    Now to find the ‘follow’ button…

    • Jessica May 26, 2018 at 8:12 pm - Reply

      Hi Val, thanks for finding me again. The rhododendrons certainly add colour don’t they. I attempted to move most of the ones we inherited, which were growing too closely together and rather in the face. About half of them survived the experience and are doing better in their new positions. This year all are blooming! I wouldn’t want to be without them completely.

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