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.