My Borrowed Garden in May

It’s probably my favourite gardening month, so I just had to write about my borrowed garden in May…

Upwards driven, arrow headed Aquilegia flowers begin to open, tainted only slightly by greenfly nestled in a few flower stalks – and not a ladybird to be seen.

De-headed tulips with their bleached foliage continue to fade from their recent fiery display, twisting this way and that, whilst continuing to roll ever inwards.

A cascading Gypsophila overflows its pot whilst flowering freely with dozens of tiny white trumpets, all worshiping the light, while from its Lewisia neighbour rise numerous slender stalks bearing exquisite pink blushed floral disks.

Gypsophilla cerastioides.

Accompanying the above mentioned delicate beauties are many cherished terracotta pots, each supporting a carefully chosen and treasured plant. The plants are not all star performers, some being the most ordinary specimens, but they’re my selections, my collection, and I appreciate each and every one for its own qualities. Collectively, they are my garden.

I have to say, there’s a good few immortal and less attractive plastic pots in use too, which refuse to die. Mind you, I can’t remember when I last threw a plastic pot away, as ‘they’ll all come in handy at some point’. If they’re here now, we might as well use them.

Overriding the flowers just now the foliage reigns supreme, with many textures and forms blending together in communities possibly never to be found in the wild. I would like to say it makes for a lovely floral display, or it’s a tapestry of colour, but to be honest it’s mostly green foliage, and I love it all the same. All that juice moving through the tiny vascular systems – refreshing, fascinating and energy giving.

Ensette ventricosum ‘Maurelii’

Lighter, clearly fresher foliage can be seen on a range of evergreen plants, from a pot restricted cedar in its early stages of topiary formation to a cloud trimmed, shrubby box in a heavy clay pot. Still, I can see at least a dozen different plants in flower, (not including the lawn daisies!) with the promise of many more to come.

A curving rear wall supports a Pyracantha, which to my mind has been neatly trained over many years. It is just now reaching its first annual climax as it begins to burst its many champagne coloured flower clusters. I particularly like the informal holes where birds fly in to go bug hunting.


Along another border, waist high Miscanthus is beginning at last to own its space, whilst beneath and between forget-me-nots, the happiest of accidents light up the ground.

Directly opposite, the purple and mauve bells hang in fanned clusters from stout hairy stems, above the most giving of comfrey leaves. Beside this another happy accident, a Welsh poppy, demands attention with its wide open, paper-like orange petals.

Digitalis purpurea.

Just a little further away a darkly coloured bugle sits unobtrusively beside a towering foxglove, its own statuesque form leaning slightly to catch the light. Each and every year I’m wowed by the strength and beauty of each little flower tube.

And finally on the face of the fence, and arching from a stringy framework of dubious strength climbs a young clematis, its white twisted petals finally open now to appreciate the sunlight. Of course, it wants to scramble every which way I don’t want for it, but it’s a delight nonetheless.

Clematis montana.

It’s a complicated but fun mix of pots in my garden, and especially lovely in May; probably my favourite month. Whether it is a borrowed garden or a gardener’s garden, or a bit of a shambles I don’t mind; it’s my oasis and it’s imperfectly perfect for me just now. I hope your gardening space is equally challenging, delightful and inspirational, and I’d love to hear about yours.

Regards, Gary

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