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My Wildlife Allotment May 2019

The warm weather we had over Easter has brought out the flowers, but we need rain desperately now. After last year`s hot and dry summer we had quite a dry winter and a very dry spring so far. The last proper rain was sometime in March, so long ago I cannot even remember it anymore. The soil is like concrete in many places already and cracks are appearing. I am glad I built my bean frames in March when the soil was still soft. There is no rain in sight until mid-May at least which means I have to carry watering cans again now. I only water newly planted perennials, shrubs and trees and also the vegetables, everything else has to fight for itself. Despite the dry conditions all the plants are still growing well and have lush new growth. Camassia quamash is weaving some blue colour in between all the green. The plants are spreading quite a lot so I had to dig some of the bulbs up last year to create more space for the other plants.


Everything is still growing well despite the lack of rain

The new allotment is looking much greener now

Camassias add some welcome splashes of blue

Late-flowering tulips provide splashes of red and orange on the allotment. I don`t grow many large-flowered tulips but I have planted orange-flowered Tulipa ‘Ballerina’ last autumn which looks rather nice between all the perennials at the moment. Tulipa linifolia, a wild tulip, is flowering in the new prairie planting. This is a rather small tulip which needs to be planted in numbers so it does not disappear between the other plants. The well-drained conditions and unimproved soil in the prairie seem to suit this tulip quite well and I hope it will come back year after year.


Tulipa 'Ballerina' has pretty orange flowers

Tulipa linifolia flowering in the prairie planting

Tulipa linifolia has quite large flowers
for such a small plant

I love orange flowers so it comes to no surprise that there are quite a lot of them each year on the allotment. Geum coccineum ‘Koi’ is a lovely plant with dainty orange flowers which seems to be happy at the edge of the pond where the soil is a bit more moist. Another orange-flowered plant which I actually got from the HPS seed distribution scheme and which is flowering for the first time this year is Anthyllis vulneraria var. coccinea. I also have the yellow-flowered version of this plant which grows rather tall, A. vulneraria var. coccinea seems to be a much more compact plant.


Geum coccineum 'Koi'
growing at the edge of the pond

Anthyllis vulneraria var. coccinea has orange flowers

Pulsatilla vulgaris is still flowering in the various steppe plantings I created as well as Euphorbia epithymoides, both plants love the well-drained conditions. The acid-yellow Euphorbia flowers look great with the sky-blue flowers of Veronica gentianoides, an accidental combination which I did not plan but am very pleased with now.


Pulsatilla vulgaris flowering
in one of the steppe plantings

One of the steppe plantings
with Pulsatilla, Armeria, Origanum and Festuca

Veronica gentianoides and Euphorbia epithymoides

I don`t have much shade on the allotment. The only places for shade-loving plants are underneath the larger fruit trees, so I only selected a few choice plants. I hope once the newly-planted trees grow larger to have more space available as I really like shade-loving plants. One of my favourite shade-lovers is Melittis melissophyllum with scented leaves and small purple and white flowers. I have also planted Lamium orvala which has made a sizeable clump and seems to be happy even in dryer soil. Anemone sylvestris is a woodland-edge plant and grows well between the gooseberries on my allotment. The plant spreads via underground runners but is never a nuisance. I have seen this plant in its native habitat in Germany where it grows on warm slopes at the edge of calcareous woodlands.


Melittis melissophyllum
growing under the greengage tree

Lamium orvala has pretty flowers

Anemone sylvestris is happy
growing between the gooseberries

The bog garden is quite colourful at the moment. Last year I raised some ragged-robin plants (Lychnis flos-cuculi) from seed which are already flowering now. The flowers have a delicate beauty and are visited by pollinators. Also flowering in the bog garden is shooting star (Dodecatheon pauciflorum) which I had completely forgotten about as the leaves disappear after flowering. What a nice surprise to find it flowering between the ragged-robin plants!


Lychnis flos-cuculi flowering in the bog garden

The bog garden is also home to a shooting star (Dodecatheon pauciflorum)

Pollinators are out in force thanks to the dry and often sunny weather. I have many different solitary bees visiting the flowers on my allotment. There are nearly 250 species of solitary bees in the UK and all are important pollinators, often overlooked in favour of honeybees and bumblebees. Also out are bee-flies which look rather cute with their small fluffy bodies, darting from flower to flower. The adults are good pollinators but the larvae are parasitoids of bees, especially mining bees.


Solitary bees like the marsh marigold flowers

A tiny solitary bee is collecting pollen
from Tulipa saxatilis

A bee fly is drinking nectar from honesty flowers

The hedgehog is busy feeding on insects and slugs. It was amazing to find that the hedgehog has actually started using the hedgehog box I provided for him. The frogs, after finishing the busy breeding season, are now a lot more relaxed and can often be found enjoying the sunshine at the edge of the small pond, well-hidden by vegetation. The new pond is still too open. I hope the pond plants will grow fast to provide some cover soon.


The hedgehog coming out of the hedgehog box
in the night

A frog basking in the sunshine

With frosty nights a thing of the past it will not be long now until the allotment truly bursts into colour. I will be back with more tales from my wildlife allotment in June.

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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