Like a bad Hollywood sequel, April’s drought was followed swiftly by May’s deluge and that cold wind still blustered on, dampening my enthusiasm for a spot of gardening.  The weather had the opposite effect on my plants, with that thorough soaking effectively acting as rocket fuel for the various shoots and stems of the garden, which shot up several inches during the gloomiest weather when I didn’t want to get out of bed, never mind the house.  Regardless of my misgivings, I still had a lot of planting to get on with as I’d received my order of 70 flower plugs this month and they needed attending to straight away thanks to a delay at the depot.

Although much of my time gardening in May was spent huddled up in my waterproofs, sniffling away like I had a heavy cold and dashing back into the shed when the rain got too intense, I still found being alone in a quiet green space had its memorable moments.  When the pitiless battery of the storms occasionally subsided, the soothing tattoo of rain on leaf had a quite meditative effect and I imagined myself not kneeling in a soggy garden, but looking out across an abandoned cityscape of emerald spires, with the soft patter of raindrops like ghostly echoes of footfalls through its streets.  The spell was emphatically broken by a clap of thunder that sent me scurrying back to the shed, but mercifully, I find these moments of serenity far outlast the feelings of gloom that the leaden skies mostly induced.

For some years now I’d been meaning  to do something about the neglected corner by my shed that had little growing but grass and bindweed and I resolved that this would be the year when I finally transformed it into a sort of ‘shade  garden’.  To this end, I dug out the weeds and planted a few plugs of red campion and some ramsons bulbs (also called ‘bear garlic’) alongside the existing lesser celandine.  I didn’t expect anything to show this year, but was pleased to see that one bulb liked its new home enough to produce two flower heads – those familiar clusters of white stars that illuminate forest floors this time of year whilst the leaves fill the air with the delightfully savoury aroma of garlic before the tree canopy closes in for the summer.  It was a very modest show but, hopefully, a sign of better things to come.

One plant that I’m pleased to see increasing its range in the wildflower garden is bird’s-foot trefoil.  This is a common plant of waysides, where its cheery yellow flowers liven up verges like flecks of sunshine amongst the grass and it’s also a fantastic plant for wildlife, as not only does it provide abundant nectar for various insects, but it is also the larval food plant of several species of butterfly and moth.  The most conspicuous species that visits the garden – and one of my favourite guests - is the black and red burnet moth, whose caterpillars I first see in May.  I feel that having these torpid, day-flying characters living on my plot is like receiving a seal of approval from the natural world for my efforts, as burnet moths are regarded as denizens of the meadow, which is the habitat I’m trying to create.  What’s most satisfying though is that they exemplify what I mean by creating a habitat that benefits creatures through their entire life cycles – eggs are laid on the trefoil, which the hatched caterpillars consume, these in turn climb the long stalks of grass to pupate and the hatched adults spend their days on the common knapweed and other flowers growing alongside; so their whole lives are catered for by a mere half of an allotment plot.

Well, once again, I’ve written far more than I intended, so if you’re still reading, please join me again in June when blooms and bugs will be their liveliest and I can perhaps spend a moment or two just sitting and watching the show.