April and May 2022

I failed to write my blog in April, but had a good excuse… Sam and I were away for a few days near Bristol on holiday. We had a lovely time staying on the Mendips and meeting up with family and friends. By the time we got back, April was history (and I forgot). So it is a double dose this time round.

I am very excited to have my volunteers back in force. They stop for a few months over winter and return in spring, much to my delight! Here they are, hard at work…

My lovely volunteers

The bulbs were fantastic in April, as they had been in March. Just as the dafs were coming to the end, the tulips came out. They were really beautiful and lasted quite a long time.

Tulips galore

The tulips are now gone, but have been replaced with the aliums. I love how at this time of year there is such a quick succession of flowers. There never seems to be a time where there isn’t something to admire.

Over time, wildlife in the gardens has become increasingly important to me. I try to encourage wildflowers and insects as much as possible. The Amberswood garden that we created 4 or 5 years ago is really flourishing this year. The cowslips are gone, but there is lots of birds foot trefoil and ragged robin instead. There is also cuckooflower, yellow rattle and purple orchids in abundance.

Birds foot trefoil in the Amberswood garden
Ragged Robin
Cuckooflower
Purple orchid

The orchids grow in the lawns, along with meadow buttercups and daisies. In May, I always try to cut shapes in the lawns where the flowers are growing, in an attempt to encourage wildlife. The rest of the lawn is regularly cut in order for them to look neat and tidy. I find this method more visually appealing than the blanket “No Mow May” approach. I generally leave the areas of uncut grass until late summer before strimming it down.

We have heard a lot about declining numbers of insects. We seem to be doing fairly well. There have been masses of the once thought of extinct alder leaf beetle. They have been happily munching through the alder leaves as they appear.

Alder leaf beetle

We have also had a good number of butterflies and bees.

Common blue

And here a couple of bumble bees…

Bumble bee on a wild rose flower
Bumble bee on a comfrey flower

There are many more flowers out at the moment. The candelabra primulas are particularly stunning at the moment.

Pink candelabra primula
Yellow candelabra primula

The foxgloves are also looking good. I especially like this pure white one with silver birches in the background…

White foxglove

Recently there have been a few more relatives and friends visiting their loved ones at the hospice. And now that the weather is slowly improving, they are spending more time sitting outside. They are always so appreciative of the gardens and the work that I, and the volunteers, do. This makes me feel great, and worth the tired body at the end of the day! It is nice for me to be able to chat with them and listen to their stories. It is a priviledge to share these times.

This coming weekend is the Platinum Jubilee. The floristry students at Wigan and Leigh College have created an amazing floral display of the Queen, and have asked the hospice to look after it during their half term week off. Here it is in the gardens…

The Queen
The Queen in situ

Congratulations to the students for their amazing effort, and thank you for lending it to us.

Well that’s it for me. I’m looking forward to the long Bank holiday weekend, followed by two weeks off, including a week in the south of France. Hopefully I will feel fully rested and raring to go for the second half of June and the build up to our garden opening on the 24th July.

Till next time, happy gardening! X

8 thoughts on “April and May 2022

  1. So much joy here – volunteers, wildflowers, insects, the students’ creation. Uplifting and inspiring writing with stunning pics. Thank you!

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  2. Thank you so much Jim for the newsletter and the wonderful photos. It is a real oy to see you encouraging the birds and all the insects. I’m afraid it puts me to shame although I try and do the same here. Looking forward to the next newsletter. Keep up the marvellous work.

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  3. Great photos as always ….and the gardens look magnificent. Can you come and help me design my new (much smaller) garden? Bob x

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