It has been so wonderful to enjoy a few rays of sunshine this weekend after the continuous downpours of previous weeks. Whilst I deeply appreciate the rain, there is something so vital and enlivening about the sunshine at this time of year, plus our vey real need to top up our vitamin D stores after winter.
Finally, all the reasons why May is one of my favourite months were apparent; the garden, growing up so lush and vibrant and about to burst into bloom, the cowslips carpeting the Downs and, very best of all, the musky sweet scent of hawthorn blossom on the air.
As I set off harvesting yesterday I stopped down the garden path to admire these beautiful chive buds. Look closely and you will see the little beads of moisture on the inside. Exquisite no? Like the flowers are gently breathing their way open.
Valerian and roses are all set to flower too. I love the pattern formed by the valerian buds and the spiral of the rose sepals unfurling. This was a new rose for me last autumn, bought for half price from the garden centre. It is called Wild Edric and is supposed to be especially hardy for organic growers as well as beautifully fragrant. Well you know roses are my one weakness….
Already in flower and pretty as the day is long are the heartsease. To my mind this is one plant that certainly lives up to its name as it lifts my spirits and enlivens my heart every time I see it.
And gone to seed are the dandelion heads. Much as I love my dandys, I snip most off and just leave a few to populate the garden with their offspring. These downy globes of tiny seeded parachutes are both beautiful and very well adapted for survival.
Then out of the garden and onto the hills, where the wild things grow and the sea winds blow.
This sweet little flower is black meddick which enjoys coastal areas and lime rich soils.
Growing next to it was this chickweed, busting into tiny flower-stars and adorned with tufts of enthusiastic dandelion.
Red campion brings splashes of bright colour to the spring hued greens and yellows of the hedges.
And speedwell, one of my favourite of all wildflowers, grows rampant at the field edges.
The blossoms of wayfaring tree, Viburnum lantana, bridge the time gap between the flowerings of blackthorn and hawthorn, continuing the thread of hedgerow beauty that passes to the elder as the hawthorn blossom begins to fade.
Cowslips are all over the escarpment, enabling me to harvest just enough for tea and a small quantity of infused oil. Remember cowslips are endangered in many parts, though they grow freely here, so cultivate them in your garden for a sustainable harvest unless you have a very prolific source nearby.
One of the things I love best about this time of year is the ability to pick herbs so freely for fresh teas. I am enjoying again my old favourite of lemon balm and rosemary from the garden and there is nothing like a tea of cowslip and hawthorn tops for relaxing in the evening and ensuring a good night’s rest.
My oils are left out in the day, infusing in the full sun, then bought into the warm at night. Like this they should be ready in only about three days. This would not be sufficient time for tougher plants but these fresh flowering tops will give up their constituents quickly in the bright warm sunlight and may risk rancidity or losing their vitality if left out too long.
I have bombarded you with enough pictures for one post but I’ll be sharing thoughts and images from the first hawthorn blossom harvest sometime next week.
What are your favourite things in May?