Each Month From my Window: May

For the first time in years I’ve had foxgloves in the front garden. I plant them regularly but usually they just sulk. Something was different this year; I don’t know what but I’m very pleased.

It’s often the first flower to open that makes the most impact. Twenty, thirty or even a hundred blooms may be more impressive but it is the first flower to appear that stops one in one’s tracks. This happened when I looked out of the kitchen window on a wet, grey day and saw a flash of pink. The first gladiolus Communis Byzantinus. More will come but it was this particular flower that brightened my morning.

I see why osteospermums or African daisies close up on cloudy days – they really can’t risk getting their petals wet. Many flowers can shrug off a few drops of rain but not these; their pinky-white petals stain and never recover. The plant would clearly rather be in Africa than drizzly London. They were happy all through May but at the first sign of rain their beauty vanished.

Last year I planted five new roses, all from David Austin: Tess of the d’Urbervilles to climb round the front door, Tottering-by-Gently for the bed outside the kitchen window, Claire Austin to mingle with the ivy on the shady wall and climb over the summerhouse and two Ferdinand Pichards, one in the front garden and another in a pot outside the kitchen door. These and my two existing roses (an anonymous pink in the front garden and an unknown multi-coloured climber which drapes itself up and over one side of the summerhouse) all seem happy. The Ferdinand Pichard in the front garden is a bit swamped by my overenthusiastic hardy geranium but in a year or so the rose will rise above it and, for the moment, the geranium is held firmly in place with posts and restraining string. The advantage of having a small garden is that I can see them all from various windows. 


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