Tuesday 15 May 2012

What’s flowering in my garden – and what’s not

It is the middle of the month again, we have reached May - and it is time to show what’s flowering in our gardens. Here in London we have experienced the strangest spring ever, with a relatively warm winter, a dash of high summer for a few days in March and then over 5 weeks of rain and persistently cold weather with very low night temperatures. My garden has never been as late as it is this year.

Before taking my round with my camera I had a look on my website at previous years to see if it was just my imagination that everything seems so late, but no – mid May last year I had all my roses in full bloom, a spectacular display. I had lots of other flowers too, which I have been waiting for a long time – not my imagination no!

Here is my garden yesterday, when we had a nice day without any rain for a change.

A shot from the opposite end for a change, the boy in the window is the nosy son of my neighbour :-)

OK, so we are mid May and what should I be showing you right now? What would I normally show you at this time of year?? My Rhododendron Dopey seems to have taken his beauty sleep a step too far, about time to wake up perhaps? Last year he flowered 4 weeks earlier!

I have not one single rose to show you, this is the closest I could find, a Crimson cascade, on the verge of opening up. It was the only bud with visible petals so a show of roses seems a long way away….

I don’t have a lilac to show you either, this is as far as it’s come, not really flowering yet.

And my lovely alliums, usually early April flowering, just one has dared to start opening up so far!

My Dregea sinensis, much written about here on my blog, is still only barely showing leaves and tiny buds, normally the arch would have been green with leaves and had lots of flowers by now.

Paeonies? Nope, perhaps next time, in mid June!!

Hydrangea then? No, just tiny buds here too, and I’ve got two more hydrangeas looking the same….I’ll spare you repeating the pictures!

But do not despair, I have some flowers! My camellia is still flowering!! How about that? It started 19th February, so in a couple of days that means it has flowered for 3 months. Don’t think that’s ever happened, and that is purely down to the low temperatures we have had.

There are even some buds still to open, so unless we get a heat wave the next couple of weeks (ha, very likely!), the camellia might have a good few more weeks of flowering left.

My Loropetalum is also still flowering, didn’t expect it to go on this long :-)

And the Trillium cuneatums are still flowering, now with the company of a wholly unexpected Trillium luteum which I had not seen since I planted it in 2005. I thought the luteum had died and never expected to see it ever again, but here it is! Now I hope it will multiply the same way as its cousins have done the last 7 years :-)

And look here what’s flowering again,
for the second time this spring! Chaenomeles superba 'Crimson and Gold' is this beauty’s name, and by now it should be producing fruit from the flowering it did earlier this spring. Instead it has decided to totally disregard all rules of biology and start all over again producing flowers. It is not uncommon for Chaenomeles to flower more than once every year, but mine has usually given a second flush of flowers in the middle of the summer, on new growth – never like this, it’s completely smothered in buds!

OK, so now to my Eskimo, which is supposed to flower now, or perhaps a bit earlier in a normal year.

It is a viburnum and it has lovely flowers like snowballs.

Did you notice the azalea next to the Viburnum? Here is a close-up of the flowers. This azalea was labelled ‘white’ when I bought it out of season last summer....I bought it to complement the white Viburnum and wanted it white so it wouldn’t clash in colour with....

....this pale lilac azalea straight across the path in the opposite flower bed! So much for colour co-ordinations....

This azalea was the first plant I bought for my garden when I moved in here over 10 years ago. This autumn it is going on a little journey across the garden, to a damper and slightly shadier place, whilst one of my new, David Austin roses will take its place. I hope the azalea will survive the move, it is a splendid evergreen plant, whether in flower or not.

This plant is not in flower yet, but I just had to show you my Acer palmatum 'Garnet', now that all the leaves have come out properly. Isn’t it gorgeous?! The tree is putting on a bit of growth every year, but I am not sure how tall it will be. It is 8 years since I got it, but it was a 30 cm tall plant in a pot back when it arrived here.

Here is a newcomer in my garden, still in a pot whilst I am pondering about where I want to put it: Dicentra Valentine, with red flowers instead of pink!

My Lily of The Valley has just started to flower, some of the patches have a few flowers, others just some buds. This area here is where I had crocuses and anemones earlier this spring; now it is the Lily of the Valley’s turn to take over the stage! I have no idea how many plants I have, but it must be several hundred by now. Give it a few more years and I will have to start digging up/pulling up plants so they don’t smother the other plants I have down here at the bottom of my garden.

 But they are beautiful though :-) They do remind me of my grandmother, they were her favourite flower, and in Norway where I grew up you can pick them wild in the forest and on hill sides. My grandparents used to drive around looking for a good patch to pick Lily of the Valley to bring home and put in a vase. I can remember being with them on several occasions, and I remember they used to bring scissors with them, to cut the flowers with so they wouldn’t accidentally pull up the roots too. And my grandfather explained to me, (at the age of 5 or 6 or so) “that was so people next year were to enjoy the flowers too”. I can still remember him saying that – it’s a long time ago! My grandfather was a keen gardener, and me being the oldest grandchild meant that I was allowed to come along with him in his garden and “help” him. I have many fond memories from when I was quite young in my grandfather’s garden.

Here is another flowering plant, not exactly grown for its flowers, more for its spectacular leaves: Lamium galeobdolon 'Hermann's Pride'

And this huge clump of leaves have flowers resembling Lily of the Valley. It is Disporopsis pernyi, a plant which in the past has been linked to Solomon’s seal because it looks very similar, but it is not the same family, and the jury is at the moment out when it comes to which family it should be in....not uncommon in the botanical world! But Disporopsis pernyi is a very robust semi-evergreen plant that I can warmly recommend, it’s got none of the diseases and pests so common with Solomon’s seal, in fact, I don’t think anything flying, creeping or walking in my garden likes my Disporopsis – except me!!

So here is a little teaser for you for next time, as these little buds will be opened up to small bells by then. My Disporopsis pernyi is 7 years old and is a bold statement in my woodland corner.

That was the whole round in my garden this middle of May 2012, some surprises and some expected latecomers. Why don’t you nip over to May Dreams Gardens, and see what other people around the world have flowering in their gardens right now?

I am going into hospital to have yet another operation this week, so I might be out of action on my blog for a little while. I don’t know for how long, depends on how the operation goes and if I have any complications afterwards, but statistically I am long overdue an operation with no complications and problems and no post-op troubles. I am crossing fingers and toes for a completely routine operation with no nonsense afterwards – it is certainly about time I have one of those :-) So, until next time, whenever that will be, take care.


  1. Your garden is beautiful Helene! We are just the opposite with a bloom season that is now closer to what it should be, but still three weeks ahead of schedule... Larry

  2. Hi Helene ~ despite your cold and wet spring, you do have lovely blooms in your gardens! Here in the Pacific NW, we had a very cold and wet March / April and suddenly, the sun has come out for the past few days. We are all in want of some natural vitamin D! Happy GBBD! Cheers, Jenni

  3. Helene despite us living in opposite ends of the UK it looks as if Perthshire and London are at a similar stage in blooms. I can't believe how much growth there is in your hydrangea - mine is just about thinking of sending out a new leaf.

    Hope you have a quick recovery from your op.

  4. Helene I could echo what Rosie above says but we're in France and we've very similar things out in our garden here - most plants are really loving all this rain - mind you so are the weeds and the grass :-) I can't believe how immaculate your garden is - reminds me of the first garden I had in Bristol. Here we are surrounded by farmland where the weeds take over if you're not careful! Do hope your op goes well and that you'll be back blogging again v. soon - take care Miranda

  5. Just beautiful, even if things aren't all flowering just yet - I know the feeling!

  6. The gardens are so confused this year, I saw Daffs last week!!
    Hope you're operation goes well xx

  7. It's my first time to "visit" your garden!

    What is so weird is that what you have blooming looks so similar to what I had about a month ago. Camellias, azaleas, etc. I'm relatively newish (7 years) to my USDA zone, and I come from a colder zone. It is interesting to me to see people with similar plants in a totally different country!

  8. Hi Helene,
    Your garden is about where mine is in Long Island NY !!

    Great photos!

  9. Maybe your flowers are waiting until you come out of hospital, when you will really be able to appreciate them. Hope all goes well. Take care.

  10. You are weeks late for flowers and here in New England, USA, I am two weeks ahead with blooms. Love your garden. It is a delight to visit. I do hope all goes smoothly for you in the hospital. No fun but rest and be well.

  11. We seem to have had similar weather as you here in the states. I wonder what summer will bring. Your garden seems to have surprise and beauty at every corner. What a beautiful display!

  12. Thank you all for your kind comments and well-wishes :-)
    The sun we had last week-end was a nice treat, yesterday was back to the rain as usual and today we had 8 degrees Celsius and hailstorm!! Summer seems a long way away yet, we haven’t really had spring yet….

  13. You really haven't had much of a spring! Despite this, your garden is looking fabulous even if certain blooms are rather late this year. Your Camellia is beautiful, and the Azaleas are just spectacular! Love the Viburnum blooms, and those gorgeous little Lily of the Valley flowers!

  14. Hi Helene, many of your plants seem to be enjoying the Aberdeen style weather. Although March up here was even warmer than what you experienced in London. Mind you its been downhill ever since. Thoroughly enjoyed the look around your lovely garden today.

  15. Your garden looks great even if a bit behind schedule - you have such great structure and foliage in your plants, you don't even need blooms (which you do have plenty of). I just love your azaleas, especially that red one.

  16. Helene,
    Your garden is lovely -- a very tranquil place. Whatever the weather is doing, your plants have adapted nicely. The camellias are beautiful!

  17. Hello Helene
    Extremes are never good - too wet for you, too dry for us. But look at your lovely garden despite rain and cool temps! It's just gorgeous!
    Hopefully all goes well with your operation and that you can be back enjoying your flowers in no time flat

  18. I hope you are doing well after your surgery, Helene, and able to enjoy your garden again--weather permitting, of course! Even without the blooms you're accustomed to at this time of year, the foliage is lush and beautiful. Be well, or at least as well as possible!

  19. Helene, you are one of my favorite bloggers, so I want to nominate you for the Illuminating Blogger Award for illuminating, informative blog content.
    Here are the deatails:

    Awards like this one are a nice way to cross link the blogs and meet other bloggers :)


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