It’s become something of a tradition for us to visit a National Trust house/garden on our birthdays (we have the same birthday, J and I – odd, isn’t it?). Sometimes we aim to go somewhere new, but this year we revisited a favourite – Stowe, not too far away and always a pleasure. This year our birthday fell on the May Day Bank Holiday so unsurprisingly Stowe was very busy, though no doubt the Artisan Ale Festival helped too.
We had only seen Stowe in winter or at Easter before, so it was good to see more colour and more leaves on the trees. I had hoped for drifts of bluebells everywhere, but in that I was disappointed – there were some, but not many. And we saw a swan on a nest, but were careful not to get too close.
Meanwhile back at home, everything is continuing to grow and flower (well, mostly). These pictures are from last weekend as the weather is unpleasant here now – cold, very windy and showery. We did manage to do some bits and bobs today but it hasn’t been the best of days for gardening. I did some weeding and dead-heading, pricked out the marigolds which have germinated, and potted up some geraniums and sweet peas, while J cleared a lot of debris from the bottom of the garden ready for a man with a van to come and take it to the tip. Then he cleared out the second shed and painted it inside with timber treatment.
The ceanothus Mum gave us continues to look gorgeous:
The peony now has several flowers open but is starting to look a little weather-beaten – this was the first bloom to open:
The viburnum is so white it almost hurts your eyes:
The centaurea montana has recovered from an earlier mauling by snails and is now happily flowering:
I have a couple of surviving geums from the plug plants I bought by post last year, and they are spectacular:
Of the other plug plants I bought at the same time, only four of the foxgloves are still with us but they will be flowering very soon.
And the ornamental sage in the front garden is in full flower. This happened without us realising – in fact I had been thinking of cutting it back as it had gone a bit sprawly, then I looked out of the window to see the incredibly bright pink flowers already open, and more buds coming:
We are having a few pest control issues, slugs and snails seem to be everywhere and after we lost a strawberry plant to vine weevils I have become paranoid about our other pots. I am thinking of ordering some of the nematode treatments for both slugs and vine weevils, so if any of you have used either and have any advice please let me know!