In the May Garden
May is easily the most favoured month. It breaks from the last vestiges of winter in glorious abundance and life-affirming zest. All the hues of green explode, seemingly at once, all over the countryside and in our gardens. No matter who you are you cannot fail to be uplifted by May's natural gifts of warm air and an unfolding carpet of colours. Our ancient ancestors knew its importance and celebrated it as the end of winter and the beginning of the joyous abundance of summer. Hear hear.
In the countryside, May is dominated by the billowing froth of cow parsley in the hedgerows and field margins. But it isn't a one-horse race: red campion's magenta flowers nod happily by the roadsides and the pretty greater stitchwort, or the far superior and more apt nomenclature– Stellaria holostea, vies for attention. In the woodlands, the spring bulbs – bluebells and ransoms, have their last hoorah as the canopy above slowly envelops the sky.
In the May garden, it's the expanding of the perennials over the bare ground that is most noticeable: alchemilla, geranium, lupins and poppies all send out their green leaves after months of winter hibernation. The tulips run until the middle of the month and are then taken up the purple lollipops of the alliums. And all over the walls the early-flowering clematis and roses send out muted colours before the extravagance of high summer.
It's not without due awareness that the greatest horticultural show in the world – Chelsea Flower Show, bookmarks the end of the month. They must've known that the May garden, held the greatest amount of cause for horticultural triumphs, and the one month in the year to celebrate plants above all others. And I, for one, would have to agree. It may all go by in a bit of a blur and the rush of activity hard to keep up with at times, but May will always be the gardeners favourite time of year and I can't see any reasons to change that now.