View from the Rear Window - May 2023

"When the sun is out and the wind is still, You're one month on in the middle of May" - Robert Frost

Following my late filing of April's report, I was keen to be a little quicker off the mark with May's. I think there is still room for improvement!!

My recollections of May were warm (without any especially hot days), sunny and dry though I may have been influenced in this opinion more by the end of the month than the beginning.

Photos 1, 2, & 3 show the view from the rear window on May 1st, 14th, and 26th. The white apple blossom was a feature of the first days of May (Photo 1) - Rev W Wilks and Golden Delicious to the left of the garden path and a crab apple next to the red acer.

Photo 1: Rear Garden View (May 1st)

By the middle of the month (Photo 2), the apple blossom had mostly gone to be replaced by the mauve wisteria flowers covering the archway to the kitchen garden and pinkish-white blooms of photinia in the distance. On the patio, the late-flowering Tulip Antoinette had moved into its salmon pink phase.

Photo 2: Rear Garden View (May 14th)

Coming to the end of May (Photo 3), the garden enters its verdant phase. There is still plenty of colour to be found but you have to look for it.

Photo 3: Rear Garden View (May 26th)

A slideshow of the daily photos has been collated in Video 1

Video 1: Garden Slideshow - May 2023

Summary of Weather Parameters for May 2023

Cooling and Heating Degree Days have been added to the list. Sunshine hours are estimated from average daily solar radiation values measured by the Davis weather station. A list of average and total weather parameters is given in Table 1.

May 2023 was a middling sort of month with no extremes. Mainly dry (below average rainfall) and sunny with no frosts and relatively calm (no strong winds).

Table 1: Average/Total Weather Statistics for May 2023

May 2023

Weather Parameter



Average Monthly Temperature 

14 oC

Maximum Monthly Temperature

25 oC

24th & 27th

Minimum Monthly Temperature

4 oC


Number of Air Frost Days


Number of Hot Days (> 25 oC)


Monthly Precipitation

26.6 mm

Greatest 24 h Precipitation

7.0 mm

7th - 8th

Number of Dry Days


Monthly Sunshine Hours (estimated)


Average Wind Speed

3 km/h

Highest Wind Speed

34 km/h


Maximum Barometric Pressure (Sea Level)

1032.8 hPa


Minimum Barometric Pressure (Sea Level)

1007.9 hPa


Average Barometric Pressure (Sea Level)

1022.6 hPa

Heating Degree Days


Cooling Degree Days


The monthly profile of daily minimum and maximum temperatures for May 2023 is displayed in Figure 1. Daytime maxima exhibited a small increase as the month progressed whereas the night-time temperatures remained stubbornly low but remained frost-free.

Figure 1: Daily Min/Max Temperatures (May 2023)

The daily rainfall and sunshine (using solar radiation as a proxy) profiles for May 2023 are shown in Figure 2. What relatively little rain fell in May 2023 was confined mostly to an 8-day period (4th to 11th inclusive) in the first half of the month. The second half of May was dry and sunny overall.

Figure 2: Rainfall and Sunshine Data (May 2023)

Compared to previous years (2020 - 2022), May 2023's mean temperature was pretty much in the middle and similar to 2022 (Figure 3). May 2021 was notably colder whereas 2020 was a little higher. The last two Mays (2022 & 2023) have been frost-free which will be welcomed by most gardeners.

Figure 3: Temperature Data for the Last Four Mays (2020 - 2023)

The month of May has experienced a great deal of variability in the amount of rainfall over the past four years (Figure 4). This year it was low though not as low as 2020. While the benefit of less rain is not always more sunshine (see, for example, here), this was the case during May 2020 and 2023. May is often a fairly calm month with relatively low maximum wind speeds - a fact borne out by Figure 4.

Figure 4: Rain, Sunshine & Wind Data for the Last Four Mays (2020-2023)

An overview of the UK weather for May 2023 is provided by the UK Met Office here. The mean temperature anomalies for the UK are displayed in Figure 5 with Herefordshire marked in pen. Most of the UK, including Herefordshire, was around 1 ℃ warmer than average while the South East and East Anglia were only average. The mean Central England Temperature for May was 13.9 ℃ in close agreement with the value (14 ℃) measured by my Davis Weather Station.

Figure 5: UK Mean Temperature Anomalies (Met Office)

UK rainfall in May, as a percentage of the 1991-2020 average, is shown in Figure 6 with Herefordshire highlighted. The 1991-2020 average rainfall for Hereford in May is between 53 - 54 mm based on the nearest Met Office Weather Station at Credenhill, just a couple of miles down the road from us. The monthly precipitation for May recorded by my Davis Weather Station was 26.6 mm (Table 1); i.e. 50% of the typical rainfall for this area in agreement with Figure 6.

Figure 6: Relative Rainfall for May 2023 (Met Office)

Met Office data for sunshine hours (relative to the 1991-2020 mean) in May 2023 are presented below in Figure 7. Typically, May sunshine duration in the UK is between 190 - 200 hours. So the 224 sunshine hours 'recorded' by my weather station (Table 1) would be 115% of the 1991-2020 average - in good agreement with the Met Office data (Figure 7).

Figure 7: Sunshine Hours relative to the 1991-2020 Mean (Met Office)

Jobs in the Garden
  • Washing/disinfecting Quadgrows/plant pots seed trays, etc
  • Clearing out and jet washing the polytunnel
  • Harvesting asparagus
  • Shredding garden waste/composting/sieving finished soil improver
  • Planting out cucumber, tomato and squash plants into Quadgrows in polytunnel
  • Sowing salad in Veg/Salad Planters
  • Sow sweetcorn, French beans and Snap Peas in Rootrainers
  • Plant out celery and celeriac plants into outside Veg/Salad Planters
  • Transplant sweet and chilli peppers to Veg/Salad Planters in Polytunnel
  • Extra garden watering during the dry spell in second half of May (Figure 2)
  • Sow beetroot, parsnip and carrot in Veg/Salad Planter
Flora and Fauna
  • 3 x Blackbirds (male, female, young)
Photo 4: Blackbird on a favourite singing perch
  • 2 x Blue Tits
  • 2 x Collared Doves
  • 1 x Crow
  • 1 x Great Tit
  • 6 x House Sparrows
Video 2: Three House Sparrows on Finches Friend bird feeder
  • 1 x Robin
  • 2 x Starlings
  • 6 x Swifts
  • 3 x Wood Pigeons
  • 1 x Wren
  • 2 x Bats
  • 1 x Orange-Tip Butterfly
Photo 5: Orange-Tip in the Garden (May 2nd)
  • Silver Y Moth (note the silver 𝒚-marking) - a common immigrant
Photo 6: Silver Y Moth (11th May)
  • 1 x Holly Blue Butterfly (single spotted on several occasions)
  • 1 x Red Admiral Butterfly
  • 1 x Common Frog
Photo 7: Frog in Garden Pond

And, finally, a few photos from the Garden in May ...

Photo 8: Tulips (May 1st)

Photo 9: Tulip (May 1st)

Photo 10: Wisteria (May 9th)

Photo 11: The Secret Garden (May 9th)

Photo 12: Wisteria Flower (May 4th)

Photo 13: Medlar Flower (May 16th)

Photo 14: Paradise Garden (May 25th)

Photo 15: The Secret Garden (May 25th)

Photo 16: Tulip Antoinette (May 1st)

Photo 17: Tulip Antoinette (May 9th)

Dogs, Ducks, Damsels and Dragons

 At the end of May we were charged with dog-sitting duties while our daughter and family jetted off to New York for a short break. Belle is a very easy dog to look after - her needs are simple: food, walkies, play, and attention! After a morning walk and lunch, Belle likes nothing better than to relax in any one of her half-a-dozen favourite resting places.

Photo 1: Belle in relaxation mode

When Belle wants to play, she will find one of her squeaky toys that serve as a clarion call for playtime! 

Video 1: Belle playing fetch

Belle has no particular retrieving skills but seems to enjoy the chase: 

Video 2: Chasing Belle

Even after spending a week in our company catering to all her needs, the return of her mistress focuses all Belle's attention on the door through which her mistress will soon pass through!

Photo 2: Belle awaiting her mistress' return

One of Belle's favourite walks is along the Thames towpath. On one of these walks, we espied this duck and her eight ducklings ...

Photo 3: A family of ducks minus the father (drake)

Mallards and swans are ten to a penny* on the River Thames but this was clearly something else.

* choose any from two a penny, two to a penny, ten a penny, a dime a dozen 

Closer inspection ...

Photo 4: Female Mandarin Duck on River Thames

Photo 5: Female Mandarin Duck on River Thames

... revealed it to be a female Mandarin Duck. Female duck seems tautological to me, but this species is named Mandarin Duck so we have to differentiate between male and female. The male is much more striking in appearance and we, possibly, saw it a few days earlier on the same section of the river.

By way of an aside, there was a lone common tern amongst the ubiquitous seagulls that have taken up residence on Britain's inland rivers.

Photo 6: Common Tern on the River Thames

Photo 7: Common Tern on the River Thames

Reverting back to the alliterative title of this blog post, our visit coincided with the emergence of damselflies and dragonflies. We visited a number of watery places to see these flying masterpieces: Dinton Pastures, Ali's Pond Nature Reserve, and the Thames Valley Park Nature Reserve.

The identifications are down to me and are not guaranteed to be 100% correct. Lots of damselflies but relatively few dragonflies.

Photo 8: Banded Demoiselle and Common Blue Damselfly

Photo 9: Large Red Damselfly

Photo 10: Banded Demoiselle

Photo 11: Female Banded Demoiselle

Photo 12: Blue-tailed Damselfly

Photo 12: Banded Demoiselle

Photo 13: Large Red Damselfly

Photo 14: Male and Female Common Blue Damselflies

Photo 15: Broad-bodied Chaser (male)

Photo 16: Broad-Bodied Chaser (female)

Photo 17 is the same as Photo 16 with the brightness and contrast adjusted to show more detail.

Photo 17: Broad-Bodied Chaser (female) - enhanced

Malvern Hills Visit (15th May 2023)

"The bluebells are all out, and the sky is clear blue" - Paul McCartney 

We passed by the Malvern Hills on our return from the Isle of Wight and wanted to pay another visit to see the bluebells in full flower. A couple of weeks later we had the opportunity to do this. The first port of call was Putley, a small village located between Hereford and Ledbury, for their Annual Open Gardens event. We attended the same event in 2022 and in previous years; some of the show gardens were the same but there were also a couple of new ones.

Photo 1: Putley Car Park behind the Parish Hall

It was about 4 pm when we left Putley and headed for the Malvern Hills. After parking up in one of the Malvern Hills' car parks, we had an early tea - cooked to perfection by Mary in the back of the campervan.

It was a bit of a climb up to the top of the hills ...

Photo 2: Walking along the Malvern Hills

... with fine views southwards to the Herefordshire Beacon (aka British Camp) ...

Photo 3: Looking South to the Herefordshire Beacon

On the hill slopes (Herefordshire side) were carpets of bluebells ...

Photo 4: Bluebells in the Malvern Hills (15/5/23)

Photo 5: English Bluebells, Malverns, 15th May 2023

Glorious weather and glorious English countryside.

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