May 2022


At this time of year the gardens are truly showing the promise of things to come and everything seems to suddenly go “whoosh” and shoot up. All along the Entrance Path and Wisteria Walk up to Assisi Bridge the colours are building. From the brilliant, jewelled reds, oranges and yellows of the wallflowers, still holding their blooms, we now have the gorgeous pinky purple spires of the honesty and the softly cascading lilac blooms of the wisteria which doesn’t seem to have been at all affected by the emergency pruning we had to give it last autumn when nearly a third of it was removed after storm damage to the old Lovelace Wall. All the roses are looking strong and healthy and showing signs of plenty of buds, a couple are already opening in the warm sunny weather. The curled new fronds of the ferns are unrolling gradually, architectural and somehow prehistoric in their appearance. On the shady side of the Chapel the pretty little pulmonaria are a delight, their spotted leaves and purple flowers delicately brightening the border. Next to them the tiny white flowers of the sweet woodruff glow like stars against the dark soil.  On the sunny side of the Chapel the irises are in full bloom, their grey-green swordlike foliage perfectly set off by the deep royal purple and blue of their opulent flowers.

We have been busy sowing seed and planting out hardened off seedlings in the Cutting Garden to ensure we get a good display again this summer. We have dedicated a specific space to grow more dye plants and another to fill with the “pot herbs” that the medieval friars would have grown for food. This year, as well as welsh onions, leeks, chives, root parsley, broad beans and peas we are growing lentils, which the Italian friars would have known and used as a valuable source of protein in their meagre and often meat-free diets.

There are plenty more young plants to plant out, all raised from seed in our small greenhouse and  nursery area at home. In the next week or so there will be clary sage, common sage, hyssop, nasturtiums, dahlias, sweet rocket and fennel to add into the Cutting Garden beds, ensuring that we not only get a good display this year but planning ahead as these young plants will provide structure, scent and colour next year too. In the next month or so we’ll be starting the process again by sowing wallflower, foxglove and honesty seeds, to grow on and plant out around the gardens in the autumn, ready for flowering next spring.

Spotted in the Gardens this week:

  • Our friendly robin, Bert, and his mate are feeding nestlings. Every day he follows us everywhere around the gardens and hops in right at our feet or next to our hands when we are weeding or digging, grabbing any tasty grubs he can spot and then racing off with them to his secret nest.
  • The moorhens in the river by the chapel now have 6 tiny chicks. They are small puffball of black fluff with bald red heads and over-large feet. They are so very tiny that it’s amazing how they can negotiate the current of the river to keep up with mum and dad on their foraging trips out of the hidden nest.

Tracey and Robert… the gardeners.

The gardeners