I am casting my clouts and celebrating my sunny Lewes Garden in April

The season moves on here in my small Lewes town garden – daffodils have said their goodbyes and the camellia is about to join them but there are plenty of new things on the move.

This is the garden’s third year since I started it from scratch. Before the beautiful antique York stone flag stones were lain, there was a scrappy patch of grass and a lot of dandelions. It has come together well as a predominantly vertical garden with climbing roses, clematis, and various other climbers covering but not obscuring the evocative and traditional Sussex flint walls.

Before long, all the climbers will have leapt up to their full height and the garden will be enclosed in flowers for the Summer.

The passionflower, note the bare branches above, may or may not be coming back after we had the harshest winter here for 100 years. All over England, gardeners who like to take risks with half-hardy shrubs are doing a melancholy body count. I haven’t quite given up on the passionflower, it often doesn’t spring into leaf until May but, don’t tell it, I would be quite excited to put in something new there as it is a greedy creature that tries to crowd out everything else.

The simple but always effective periwinkle is in bloom and its cheerfully smiling blue flowers perfectly contrast with their exotically rubbery leaves. No hedgerow should be without them.

My irises have doubled up since planting them three years ago. These are aptly and rockingly named Denim. I love having some cool blue in the garden after all those yellow daffodils.

I always grow tulips in tubs as annuals because, well, they are my luxury. They are always best in their first year and I enjoy playing with different varieties. This year, I am growing Ballerina and I am always a sucker for burning orange as it is the prophet of burning English Summers when the garden is filled with strong colour.

Another encouraging sign of the seasonal change, was deciding to put Winter clothes up into the loft. jackets and coats are now all bagged up for the Summer even though our ancestors warned “Ne’re cast a clout til may is out.”  my clouts are all bagged up and there is no turning back now.


  1. As I'm sure you know, some people claim that 'May' in the rhyme refers to the hawthorn. So, if the hawthorn is out already, you're not breaking the rules.

    Best of luck with the passionflower.

  2. Yes, I did know the May Blossom connection and, yes, it is in flower around here so I guess I am safe cloutless.

    Thanks Bren for your good wishes about my passionflower – still no sign of life though. I suspect you have abandoned yours by now too.

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