What To See In May

Rhododendron x loderi found near the Underground Ice House

Rhododendron x loderi found near the Underground Ice House (Photo credit: Peter Cunnington)


The fragrant, white flowers on Choisya ternata will scent the air with their citrus-like fragrance on sunny days. Crush a leaf and get the strongly aromatic smell of this close relative of oranges and lemons.

Walled Garden

In the shade bed behind the glasshouse look for the tall, pink spikes of Elephant Ears, Bergenia crassifolia and the deep purple of Primula pulverulenta from China. Here too is Dicentra spectabilis sometimes known as ‘Lady in the Bath’ – do you know why?

Vegetable Garden – Broad beans are flowering now and beetroot, lettuce and peas are germinating. On the far side a small seed bed has been sown with leeks and brassicas both showing above ground; once large enough to handle these will be planted into their final positions.

Fruit Garden – Strawberries in flower will need pollinating insects to visit to ensure a good crop.

The Auricula Theatre has a good range of Auricula primulas in flower showing their intricate patterns of flower colour.

Glasshouse – As the days lengthen and become warmer plants will be moved out into cold frames, against the far wall, to harden-off, these include Dahlias and beans. Cuttings are still being taken to ensure continuance of some plants.

Malus floribunda found near the Underground Ice House

Malus floribunda (Photo credit: Peter Cunnington)

Leave the Garden by the Arched Gateway

Go over the drive and past a group of deciduous rhododendrons. Note the fine scent of the yellow, Rhododendron luteum from the Pontic Mountains. Proceed along the shale path noting the fine Horse Chestnut with its ‘candles’ of flowers promising a good crop of conkers in the autumn and continue with views across the meadows to the River Dee. Here by the path side newly planted beds contain Euphorbia and Indian Squill, Camassi leitchliniae and further on wild flowers, Red Campion and bluebells.

Passing the Ice House, open now that the bats have left their winter roost, you will come up towards the orchard past yellow Berberis x stenophylla, on the left, pink and white Malus floribunda and the big trusses of Rhododendron x loderi to the right. Magnolias with their tulip-shaped flowers are a feature as you enter the orchard.


As you enter the orchard glance to your right and you will see a blue haze from the self-sown Forget-Me-Not under the sycamore trees. The flowers of the fruit trees will be fading soon but the bees should have done their important work and we await the outcome and an autumn of lip-smacking fruitfulness.