This Month in the Garden, May 2022, with Kate Hill

Looking around the garden these are a few of my favourite plants which are currently in bloom. I left the wallflowers I planted in the autumn of 2020 in the ground and they are now flowering better than they did last spring. With such a glorious display of colour they can be forgiven for their tendency to flop if not propped up.
Over recent years I have become very fond of pulmonarias (lungwort). The variety in the photo here is ‘Ensign Blue’. Its brilliant cobalt blue flowers really stand out and look especially good when planted next to yellow hued foliage plants. A number of years ago I planted some perennial ‘Orange Emperor’ Fosteriana tulips. They never disappoint – their orange petals are flushed with green and they are without doubt the best tulips I’ve ever grown. Another favourite spring flowering bulb is the Snake’s head fritillary (photo at top of the page).
I have two Amelanchier lamarckii shrubs but was very disappointed when they didn’t produce much flower. However, having removed a very old and woody spirea which has opened up the area next to them and let in a lot more light I’m delighted the amelanchiers have now put on a good show of blossom, which should mean that with any luck there’ll be a decent crop of berries for the birds. My first recollection of seeing amelanchiers was when they had been planted as a hedge. They looked so impressive with their white starry blossom they reminded me of sparklers on bonfire night. They can be grown as shrubs or trees and are also known as snowy mespilus, serviceberry and Juneberry. The emerging foliage is a pretty bronze colour, turning green then red in the autumn, so they’re good “all rounders”. I’m hoping my plants will now take off and put on a good performance from now on.
Last month I wrote about the large flock of chaffinches and bramblings spotted in Rearsby. Imagine my surprise when I recently looked out and saw a male brambling on one of the feeders in the garden.
A few days later several others had joined him and I, along with a few of my birdwatching friends, have spent hours watching and photographing them at close quarters. They are such attractive little birds, I’ve included a clearer photo taken by my friend which shows off the young male’s beautiful orange colouring. It’s been a real privilege to have them visit the garden and I only hope they return next year, preferably earlier in the winter, after their migration from their Scandinavian homelands.