I wasn’t entirely happy with May.
I’m sure May doesn’t care what I thought of her, but I felt disappointed.
I have always considered May to be the most perfect month in the British garden. Lush, fresh growth that expands excessively, everything is abundant and perfect before heat exhaustion, senescence or a lot of nibbling occur.
But when I looked around the garden in mid-May, I didn’t see it. Everything seemed so boring. Lots of green, yes, but practically no color, no interest. Everything just a little bit blue. May shouldn’t be like that.
Was I just in a strange, grumpy Covid 19 mood? Or did I have withdrawal symptoms from the Chelsea Flower Show this year? Perhaps the (often forced) early interest there had clouded my perception and made me yearn for a false reality.
But no. It turns out that I’m just remembering a goldfish and the intelligence of … well, I’m not going to offend any other kind here.
It was the pond that finally came to my aid. I visit the pond a couple of times a day and became impatient for the plants to bloom and the tadpoles to let legs grow.
But on the 21stst In May my first visit lasted almost all day. A bit naughty actually, but I just couldn’t tear myself away. The dragonfly nymphs climbed on the bush by the dozen to reach the last scales of their exoskeletons. They were ready to dry out in the sun and enjoy their first flight.
When you see this for the first time, it is impossible to feel anything other than elation. It’s like magic and happiness and wonder and awe, all in one. And when I sat and watched the spectacle play out before me, of course I noticed all the other little creatures, plants and flowers that were all under my nose.
It was not only the emerging dragonflies, but also the damselflies that form red love hearts when they mate, and the sparkle of delicate wings with gold frames that glow in the sunlight.
When I looked closely, the angry robin seeds that I had sown last spring had finally sprouted and began to spread a hint of pink over the edges. The bird’s foot clover lit up every corner and even the Potamogeton pondweed had pushed little baby flowers across the water surface.
Why on earth had I so rejected my “boring” garden? All I had to do was stop and look. How can I possibly forget that over and over again?
Suddenly so many non-boring things sprang up on me. The pink cercis flowers emerge directly from the log; the hairy, bright green, unfolding fronds of a male fern; the budding plums in the orchard; the easily moving exquisite curtains of robinia pea flowers with their surprisingly beautiful brown sepals.
It had been there all the time if I just checked.
Of course the animals were here too. They love the wildflower meadow – it’s a great hiding place for so many creatures. It tickles me so much when I see a head sticking up to see the world before I go back to lunch. And when mammals and birds strut along the curved mowed paths as if they were being shown on a catwalk, they appear so compliant, thoughtful and human.
Harry even followed the handwashing mantra this month: not just hands, but feet, too, apparently in the morning, at noon, and in the evening.
All with little fear, as soon as cover appears and moves so close to me while I’m working in the garden.
We didn’t have a single raindrop this month. It was wonderfully sunny and warm and summery. I was drawn into the speckled shadow of the forest stream: such a peaceful, calming and calming place. Natural springs ensure that the water never stops flowing. such a wonderful sight in dry times.
When I was sitting by the stream, I noticed a strange phenomenon: the water curled up and created a permanent wave-like feature even though there was no obvious obstacle in the way. I am quite intrigued by the life of water, not only by the creatures in it, but also by the strength and personality it takes to find and shape its way across the country. During lunch I described it to Paul, who informed me that it was a “hydraulic ramp”. Who would have thought that chemical engineering and horticulture would ever overlap so happily?
This very dry weather has probably slowed growth somewhat, but the contrast between the beginning and the end of the month is strong, which my theory proves that May is really the month of abundant growth. You can almost see the oxeye daisies now reaching their limbs and stretching to get as close to the sun as possible.
And the vegetable garden has come to life. It’s 100% Paul’s baby – I can’t appreciate it at all – but I love the contrasting neatness of the uniform lines against the backdrop of a naturalistic garden.
We harvested beans and lettuce and jumped up and down with joy when our compost reached 50 degrees Celsius. Little things!
But maybe the absolute highlight of the month was meeting Sammy for the first time. The farmers had told us that the area was full of grass snakes and we were sure that we would see them sliding around the pond.
But no, 18 months after restarting the pond and still no Sammy. See you last week. I just saw his head – he didn’t think much about seeing mine – and I almost thought I’d imagined it, but no, Sammy, that was definitely it. Only through the warming compost heap. Oh, he was beautiful. I’m a little scared, but in a happy, excited way. My real fear of compost is against rats, and although I’m not sure whether grass snakes really eat rats, it’s a compelling story to calm down. Next time I just have to be faster with my camera.
At the end of the month, most flowers are just showing this first color spot. I love that enticing first glow of fresh pigment in the buds. Full of hope and promise and another reminder of the awe that plants infuse into us.
I’m sorry, May, that I ever doubted you. I promise to do better in 2021!
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