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My Wildlife Allotment April 2019

Spring has arrived on the allotment. After coming back from a week's holiday to Gran Canaria in the second half of March I was surprised to find the allotment so much greener and with flowers opening everywhere. Many of the perennials are coming back to life now and often the first thing I do when visiting the allotment is to walk around all three plots to look for new signs of life. It feels a bit like greeting old friends after you have not seen them for a while. I am also very much looking forward to seeing all the new plants starting into growth as I have grown most of them from seed and only planted them out in autumn and winter last year.


The allotment is looking so much greener now

View of the old allotment and the half plot

The old allotment with shed and picnic bench

I have planted a lot of spring bulbs on the allotment. Flowering at the moment are daffodils, hyacinths, Anemone blanda and grape hyacinths. But the spring bulbs I love most are the wild tulips. I have now started a small collection as my allotment suits them well with lots of sunshine and well-drained soil. The first tulip to flower each year, often as early as early March, is Tulipa turkestanica with pretty white flowers with a yellow centre. I planted the bulbs in one of my steppe plantings. They like the sandy well-drained soil and come back every year. The next tulip to flower, starting in mid-March, is Tulipa praestans 'Fusilier'. The colour of the flowers is a pure glowing red which stands out from the surrounding green even from far away. The plants are growing in loamy soil with some sand and gravel mixed in. I love these tulips so much that I planted some more last autumn in a different area. Tulipa sylvestris is just opening its pretty yellow flowers which sit on long slim stems. They feel at home between the currant bushes and have gently spread out over the years. Still to flower are Tulipa saxatilis, T. humilis, T. tarda, T. urumiensis and T. linifolia.


Tulipa turkestanica has pretty flowers

Tulipa praestans 'Fusilier' has incredibly red flowers

The steppe planting
with Tulipa praestans in the foreground

The first fruit trees have started flowering. The cherry plum has already finished but the greengage and nanking cherry (Prunus tomentosa) are in full flower at the moment. I have seen lots of solitary bees flying around the flowers so will hopefully get a good pollination. My newly planted medlar tree has amazingly large buds which are already breaking. They flower later in spring with beautiful large pink flowers, similar to a quince tree.


A little solitary bee male
is sitting on some greengage flowers

Nanking cherry has very pretty flowers

The medlar has very large leaf buds

Primroses have been flowering for a while now and cowslips have started as well. I really like all the different primulas; as long as they are planted in the right location they don't need much care. I have planted some bog primulas as well and the first one is flowering now, the drumstick primula (Primula denticulata).


Primroses and daffodils

A small tortoiseshell has found a polyanthus flower

Primula denticulata in the bog garden

The first pasque flowers (Pulsatilla vulgaris) have opened their flowers. I planted them on slight mounds in the steppe plantings so they can enjoy sunshine and well-drained soil. Solitary bees, especially the small mason bee Osmia bicolor and early Andrena species such as Andrena bicolor, seem to like the flowers.


Bees like pasque flowers

A pasque flower
in the early morning sunshine

Pasque flowers are incredibly beautiful

The new allotment is coming along well. I have planted a few more trees and shrubs such as Japanese plum, saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia), chokeberry (Aronia x prunifolia), Sichuan pepper (Zanthoxylum simulans) and Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus). I have also built an arch so I can plant a kiwi, but I do not really have space for two kiwis.  Most are either male or female plants, but as hardy kiwi Actinidia arguta ‘Issai’ is self-fertile I only need one plant.


The new allotment with the new arch in the middle

Everything is ready for the growing season

The ponds are still quite bare as most pond plants start into growth quite late in spring. But one plant is stealing the show and is providing some well-needed colour. The plant I am talking about is marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), one of my favourite plants in early spring. The large yellow flowers look incredibly showy and are loved by many pollinators. I originally planted one marsh marigold plant which has now self-seeded. I transferred a larger seedling to the new pond last autumn where it is now thriving.


The pond is slowly waking up

Marsh marigold is popular with bees

The flowers of marsh marigold
provide some well-needed colour

The frogs have been very busy in the large pond as I have lots of tadpoles now. I even discovered two smooth newts, a male and a female with the male sporting a very showy breeding “costume”. A closer look also revealed tiny dragonfly larvae and some relatively large water beetles. The birds, especially starlings, black birds and goldfinches, enjoy having a bath in the pond in the early morning. It looks quite funny as the water splashes everywhere. I have filmed the action with my wildlife camera as the birds are too shy to come to the pond when I am working on the allotment.


Tadpoles have hatched

A frog watching me from the pond

Starlings are bathing in the pond

I will be back with more tales from my allotment in May. Let's hope we will have some rain soon as the soil is already getting quite dry again.

Nadine Mitschunas

Nadine Mitschunas Posted by Nadine Mitschunas

Nadine developed an interest for wildlife from an early age, and discovered gardening as hobby when she was twenty years old. As a trained ecologist, she moved with her partner from Germany to England in 2008, and is now working at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Wallingford, Oxfordshire. Much of her spare time is spent on her two-and-a-half allotment plots. These contain a wide range of ornamental plants, attracting many insects and other wildlife. She also grows some produce. Her other hobbies include photography and reading.

Nadine's blog: https://mywildlifeallotment.blogspot.com/
Nadine on twitter: https://twitter.com/Nadinemi13
Nadine's You Tube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/MyWildlifeAllotment

 

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