Friday, 29 May 2020

On May

 May entered early this year on a wave of warmth and sunshine. The heatwave of mid-April causing the May blossoms to bloom a little earlier than usual. By the time the first of the month came along our countryside is awash with greens and whites. The berry hues of the lilacs had reached their full potential by the end of April and already in that first week of May they are starting to turn brown and crisp.

But the cow parsley still lines the roads of Oxfordshire with it's lace-like flowers. The glorious white blooms of hawthorn frothing up behind along the hedgerow brightening up even the most mundane drive to the supermarket.

The bank along the road towards the woods in our village is been littered with wild flowers all month. Mostly white and green but every now and then you see a pop of purple, orange and yellow hidden amongst the long grass. A perfect paradise for busy bees and butterflies.

Further up the road and as the weeks turned from April to May, our local scrub of woodland becomes an enchanted faerie kingdom. The lacy heads of cow parsley seemed to be everywhere bobbing in the dappled sunlight through the trees. We are still able to spot a few leftover bluebells amongst the spray of white but they very soon retreat for the year.

In my own garden the rose bush comes into its own. A riot of cerise, like raspberry stains against the constant green of our garden. I found this bush last year, hidden away behind a stack of wild unruly bamboo. It looked dead, the dried out bark giving no sign of life. I had almost given up on it when I saw a small green shoot emerging. I cut back the bamboo, gave it light and air and water slowly tending to it and encouraging it back to life. This year my efforts have been rewarded with more blooms then I ever could have imagined. I cut a few of the roses and take them inside. Their heady scent fills my living room and takes me back to childhood, my Nana's house and soap that smelled sweetly of roses.

The rest of the shrubs and bushes in the garden beds are full and luscious. The perfect hiding spot for blue tits and robins, so deep within the leaves the only sign they were there were bobbing branches and the sound of fluttering wings. A bush that has remained dark and leafy most of the year suddenly comes into glorious bloom. The cream flowers seem to spill over the fence and into the corner of our garden. We struggle to determine what plant this is and so we simply enjoy the abundant flowers that have now become the only place to be for all local bees.

The first sight of a green bobbled raspberry emerges from the papery white flowers that have bloomed on its stem. And that is not the only sign of a summer glut yet to come, the gem lettuce are rearing their bright green heads towards the sun whilst runner beans flop around in the wind, their leaves like sails on a ship.

Tiny spiralled tendrils of the sweet-pea shoots begin to fold and curl around the bamboo cane pyramids, their leaves opening and pushing up towards the sunlight. A courgette plant from the garden centre has been planted in its pot and we sit in wait for the first flowers to appear.

The highlight of the garden in May must be the mixed salad leaves that have been ready to harvest. Each day a small patch is picked, taken inside to be added to cucumber, sweetcorn and slices of chicken before eaten on the patio. A truly exciting tease to all the food that is yet to come.

The days have become long and hot. Windows stay open and the sunshine is nearly always there to greet us in the mornings. The nights darken slowly. The skies turning from blue to pink to dusky grey and then black. Clear evenings have meant many sightings of the moon and stars and I start to look towards the summer equinox, the longest night of the year and all that June might bring. 

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