The Saturated Palette of Spring


It’s seeming as though it has never stopped raining this May, although I manage to only take my camera out for the brief 3 seconds a day when the sun shines. Have you noticed that most days it rains all day and then the sun comes out just as it’s time to go inside in the evening?

But Wednesday, actually, was a bright and breezy day too. I was in Faversham, in Kent, where the Duchy of Cornwall is planning a large extension to this wonderful town. I’m working on the designs, together with a big team of talented people, but especially my great friend Kim Wilkie the landscape architect. Together, I think, we are all making something that could be quite special. We had a site visit on Wednesday and looking also at the heavenly town of Winchelsea, in Sussex, which like our proposal for Faversham, is planned on a gridded street network, filled with nature, trees, and architectural richness.

I just couldn’t help starting the blog this week by sharing a few snaps from Winchelsea that morning. The fantastic allotments are one of my favourite that I’ve ever been. This very nice couple are not, in fact, the growers of that incredibly fine stand of bearded iris, on the brink of flowering (if you go to Winchelsea this week, I suspect they will be pretty incredible).

And then, a busy few days in London, and out on site all day on Friday in the Cotswolds, in mist and soft rain, and then down to Dorset, where I arrived on Friday evening.  At long last the copper beech has burst in to leaf. That incredible moment when the leaves are the palest colour, magical, before the dusty dark of August. 

Charlie’s veg garden is looking incredible.

Tulips too – still looking amazing, and here we are in late May.  This time last year they were all gone. Now they are in full flower.

Lilacs on the bank…

In the chicken yard on Saturday morning…

May is a saturated month at the best of times, but it really, really has been wet. And while that’s a pain in a way, I think the green landscape is even more spectacular than usual?

We went to Beaminster in the morning and then came back and mooched.

Intermission; Charlie’s tulips – Ivory Floradale – they are extraordinary. 

Sibyl, sitting next to me on the sofa on Saturday afternoon as we all dozed, in the rain.

But then the sun came out… we had a walk down the valley.

Sunday began grey but the trees were amazing that morning.

And then, on our way back home, the sun shone through briefly. The landscape glowed.

We were at Jasper’s and Oisin’s for lunch; back in the afternoon, in the pouring rain. And sure enough, at sunset, the clouds broke and the sunshine came through. 

The tiniest fragment of a rainbow floated above the church.

The china dogs glowed.

Here’s a flashback to the same week last year…. One reason, if I may be honest, why I love the blog is that ability to step back through over a decade now.  What a different year. You can see it in the colour of the light. This year the hawthorn is hardly in flower, the cow parsley just coming through.

But we have it all to look forward to… Have a good week to come.  Stay dry!

11 comments on this post

  • Matthew Hannan

    Hello from Connecticut (America), thank you for your blog, I enjoyed it so. Your photography is excellent, your home and garden are truly lovely!

  • A Judd

    I simply love your blog, it’s full of inspiration and also soothing. I drove up from Devon to Dorset today for some sightseeing. I am fairly certain I saw you in your Morris Minor driving past me down a hill just outside Beaminster. There is sadly not too many Morris Minors on the roads these days.

  • Jennifer

    if a little stress is making me a bit flat …I just turn to your beautiful pictures..(and pretend I’m walking there)..may I ask in the very last picture is that the very large Solomons Seal?…..sun has been promised for the bank holiday weekend so rest and enjoy🙏🏻😎

  • Darlene Chandler

    Thank you for the lovely scenery pictures, everything looks so lush with all of the blooms and greenery. Charlie’s tulips in the garden are so beautiful, along with the Ivory ones in the vase. I loved to see those Iris plants, one of my favourite flower. The vegetable garden certainly is coming along. Can’t wait to see all of your produce. The lilacs so beautiful too. Sibyl certainly liked her picture taken relaxing on the chair. These pictures are so uplifting and I so look forward to seeing them all. Still in complete lockdown where I live in Canada and seems like everything looks so grim. I do, do daily walks just to keep upbeat with nature. And did plant 9 pots of white impatient plants, but nothing like your beauty surrounding your home. Thank you again.

  • Mary

    Just glorious! Thank you!

  • Sarah Katherine Gomm

    I hope you realize you are one of the luckiest persons in the world to live in such a spectacular spot! I save your images often as my desktop image and dream of finding a corner of the world like yours. In my next life I’m definitely living in the English countryside. Perhaps I’ll even be a Lady of a manor.

    Stay well and thank you for sharing the beauty.

  • Teddy


  • Henk Joustra

    What a dramatic backdrop the copper beech makes for Charlie’s garden. Just stunning. Always great to read about your work Ben. It must be so satisfying for you and the beautiful and productive garden for Charlie. The tulips are gorgeous!

  • cmorgan

    What a wonderful splurge to have three (3!) entries from you in such short order – THANK YOU for knowing how much (esp.) they mean right now as we claw out of our “discontent”. It is esp. special to see what Spring is bringing to the haunts that are, by now, becoming more familiar to us, your readers. Then an extra treat arrives for NEW vistas and details: celebratory ! Always the pups are an icing on the cake – but WHERE is the Queen of the pack: Mavis. I know she likes to romp about and can never resist genetic coding re: a swim, but she is the primo pup and we need at least EQUAL time with Mavis views.

  • Christina Sharp

    Love Charlie’s veg patch. It is wonderful!

  • Annabel Morgan

    These pictures sum up perfectly why May is my favourite month. We stayed in a beautiful Nat Trust medieval farmhouse called Wickham Manor offering B&B near Winchelsea. Not boutique-y or chichi, but the most stunning place and readers of your blog might like it. Annabel

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