May musings.

30 May 2024

Maia, the Roman Goddess

May is possibly named after ‘Maia’, the Roman Goddess who supervised plant growth. It is the month when the garden changes the most. Beds that were empty have acquired an impossible amount of vegetation in a few weeks of relative warmth, light and rain.

Our rhubarb patch which has lain dormant for months under a thick mulch has erupted from the earth and grown so rapidly that it now resembles some relic from a prehistoric forest.


I was amazed last week upon walking round to the back of the house to discover the Wisteria in full bloom. This gnarled old plant whose rough skeleton has clung to the walls all winter was now draped in luscious, lilac froth and the perfume was astonishing.

We spent a cold afternoon in February pruning back all the straggly shoots that had developed last summer and, as usual, wondered if we had taken off too much of the plant. To see it now in all its magnificence dispels any lingering doubt and firms up my resolve to repeat the exercise next February.



We have not been participating in the ‘No Mow May’ as we would struggle to get the grass cut were we to leave it for a month. We have now begun the annual mowing routine and certainly in the past couple of weeks the ‘rain has stopped play’ on more than one occasion.

As we develop more areas in the garden we are increasing the amount of grass needing to be kept under control and although our local rabbit and deer population is doing its best outside the main gardens, it sometimes feels that we are fighting a losing battle inside the gardens.

We are re-cutting the labyrinth pattern this year and it seems like we have to cut it every 5 days or we lose it. We recently had a visit from a local nursery and it was fantastic to watch the twelve toddlers running around the paths in both directions, taking shortcuts when they felt like it.

So much for the pattern!


Bare Walls and ‘Fairy Foxglove’

Many of us are content to have bare walls around our gardens, experts are always encouraging us to think of vertical gardening and utilising these stone surfaces to grow exotic grapevines or climbing plants. Few can do this better than Mother Nature and our annual display of ‘Fairy Foxglove’ ( Erinus alpinus) always gives me a little thrill. It grows in great profusion on our lime walls and is a welcome dash of colour to brighten up the shady north-east side of the garden. Although it is a tiny flower it releases a strong perfume and each plant lasts for about five years.

Sometimes the seeds drop onto the ground and the little plants pop up in spring with their dainty pink flowers but it likes best to grow in cracks in rocks and is a great addition to a rock or container garden.


‘Fairy Foxglove’ ( Erinus alpinus)

Drummond’s first birthday at Bannockburn House

Drummond, our 4 year old rescue cat, has recently celebrated his first birthday with us. Having been here for a year, he now knows all the best places to go for particular cat reasons. He has his favourite spot on the wall for watching all the comings and goings, he has favourite hunting spots, his favourite sleeping spots depending on the wind direction and most of all, he has his favourite sun-bathing spots. This one is next to a south-facing wall and is literally ‘a cat on a hot tin roof’ – but he loves it and he lets his body flop into the ridges of the corrugated iron so that he is almost stuck there. Never fear, however, if you offer him a piece of cooked chicken he’ll be at your side in seconds!

Photos and text are by Margaret
Margaret is the Head gardener and leads the Gardening team.


Catherine Bradley.<br />

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