Titania’s bank – ummm…

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite o’er-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine…

Titania’s flowery bank was a bit of a confusion – in terms of flowering times, that is; not in terms of generally being a beautiful and mellifluous piece of writing, though Will S clearly needed the help of a good gardening book. But I do at least have two of her flowers blooming together in the meadow – the oxlips and the violets.

Oh, all right, these are primroses. There aren’t any violets near the oxlips.

The meadow is passing into its next phase, and rather like someone growing out a somewhat defined hairstyle, it’s not quite at its best just now. Though it does have a less well-behaved beauty, I suppose.

I am just mowing the first paths through it, which always makes me a) sneeze a little, b) get reflective and c) look forward to the abundance of grasses and summer wild flowers, even though I still have narcissi blooming away. (The daff count is currently standing at 1003 dead-headed or cut, and there are quite a lot to go.)

The cowslips are now flowering, and one errant clump has even appeared in the vegetable patch. It will stay, of course – I leave cowslips where they are, even if that means leaving odd patches of unmown grass and, in this particular case, a wildy patch right in the middle of the herb bed.

In the meadow, of course, there’s no problem:

And then there are my annual crop of variations on a theme. Hybrids appear one year, generally change again the next and then gradually settle down. As a result the meadow has far more pale yellow primroses in it now than it used to have, but there are still some wonders.

Which are to be encouraged, I feel:

I have never seen this rather lovely standard (well, most of it is a standard, ish) red primula before, and I probably won’t see it again. Beautiful – and I’ve just noticed that the lilies of the valley in the background have spread much more this year.

Or there’s the red oxlip. Last year this was more of a red cowslip, as it had been for several years; now it’s more – well, oxlippy. And there are three of them.

Pink and white primroses, I’m quite used to them. Crimson, too, even terracotta. But there have been quite a few salmon pinks this year. It’s not a garish salmon pink, like those geraniums which should really be called cheap-tinned-salmon pink. This one is almost a smoked salmon in colour, though it does look rather pinker than it actually is on screen.

Time is passing, and soon all of these will have gone for this year.

But there are compensations, as always in gardening, and the aquilegias by the bench are often surprisingly coloured. (The bench will equally surprising unless it gets mended; the legs are two trunks of a multi-trunked damson that had to come down; the – only slightly – rotten top is an old piece of planking I ‘found’ when the builders left eight years ago.)

Another compensation is the birch trees. One of them is particularly fine – the other two will catch up – but I’m already enjoying the light beneath the first.

And its bark is beautiful too. It was a free mystery birch, which I got in compensation for losing a cherry tree to Manweb’s clearing of vegetation around their electricity lines. I received a named one, at my request (though it’s not what it ought to be), but this one was left sad and lonely in the Manweb truck, sans label. The guys decided I would like it and I’m glad they did, because I do.

Which just goes to show, never look a gift birch in the mouth, as it were.


8 thoughts on “Titania’s bank – ummm…

  1. Janet/Plantaliscious

    That has to be my quote of the week – “Never look a gift birch in the mouth”. What enlightened workmen, they clearly had your number! Do you ever save seed from your wonderful oxlips and primulas? I rather like your “growing out in between haircuts” meadow look at the moment. Though I did rather stumble over the whole “1003 and counting” bit. How long ago did you start? I need to read back in your earlier blog postings…

    1. kate Post author

      Alarmingly, two of my three birches were free – the other one came from a ‘trees for book lovers’ lottery at out local library… just as well that I like birches and had – note the past tense – the space for them…

      Counting daffodils is a silly hobby (not an obsession, of course), and I’ve done it for the last few years. Last year wasn’t that good, but the year before was stunning – over 1500.

  2. Mo

    This is a lovely post, so ‘Springy’ – and such lovely photo’s.
    Makes me feel nostalgic.
    When I was young there was a field near us full of Cowslips, we used to sit and pluck the flowers to suck the nectar…t’would be frowned upon today of course, if you could find a field full.
    The birch tree story is great 🙂

    1. kate Post author

      Thanks… and wow, a field of cowslips! We have some scattering on roadside banks – which may be where mine first came from – but the idea of a field is amazing. All of this has really made me think about where we get our garden plants from – could be the next post…

  3. Harriet

    Pretty, pretty cowslips and primroses. Your meadow looks gorgeous. And I’m not sure what impresses me most – the fact that you planted all those bulbs or that you’re now counting them!!

    1. kate Post author

      I know, the counting is really sad (but at least Christopher Lloyd, my gardening god, did it too). I’ve only planted a few myself; I inherited most of them – thank heavens…

  4. Wife Mother Gardener

    Just beautiful. I love primulas! These really are the best I have seen this year.

    I am sure your pant knees were a little damp and muddy after taking those photos. I know the feeling.

    As for the counting, if I had the numbers that you do I would count also, mostly out of wild curiousity! Looney for sure… but then, I think anyone who aspires to garden like C.L. is a little over the top. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your meadow. I look forward to seeing more of what is hiding underneath.

    1. kate Post author

      Thanks – glad you love them too (and I’m afraid it wasn’t just the knees – I got pretty wet all over my front; if any more evidence was needed that I am indeed mad, guess that was it).

      I’m not sure if I’d aspire to garden like The Man, but Great Dixter is certainly the most wonderful place… sigh..


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