We are sorry to say that the National Annual Lecture Day and AGM will not take place on 25 September 2021 as planned. We will let you know in the July edition of the HPS newsletter the arrangements for a virtual AGM instead.

My Wildlife Allotment January 2019

I love frosty mornings on the allotment. Everything looks magically transformed with ice crystals covering every leaf, stem and seed head, all sparkling in the first rays of sunshine.

The allotment on a frosty morning

Dryopteris erythrosora covered in frost

Frost sharply outlines the edges of these
blackberry leaves

January is normally not the time of year when many plants are in flower but there are still some flowers to be found on the allotment. Harebells (Campanula rotundifolia) seem to flower most of the year and only stop briefly after a particularly cold spell. Euphorbia coralloides is another plant with a long flowering season. Also flowering already are wild primroses (Primula vulgaris) which have self-seeded all over the allotment.

Harebell flower covered in frost

Euphorbia coralloides flowers with ice crystals

Primula vulgaris already flowering
on the allotment

Flowering since the beginning of December is a pink variety of Cyclamen coum. I also have a purple variety which is just about to start flowering now. It will look very pretty together with the snowdrops which are already pushing through the soil.

Frosted Cyclamen coum flowers

Cyclamen coum started flowering
at the beginning of December

The first purple Cyclamen coum flower is open

Winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis), which I planted underneath the raspberries, are early as well. They have opened the first flowers at the beginning of January, adding a welcome splash of yellow to the allotment.

Winter aconites are flowering early

The leaves of many other spring bulbs such as Tulipa humilis, T. kaufmannia, T. sylvestris, crocuses, daffodils, Camassia squamash and C. leichtlinii are out already as well, a bit early but the winter has been quite mild so far.

Tulipa humilis leaves

Crocuses will flower soon

Without all the seed heads the allotment would look quite bare at this time of year. Monarda fistulosa, Inula orientalis, Echinacea purpurea, Digitalis ferruginea, many asters and ornamental grasses have particularly long-lasting seed heads which are still standing upright after weeks of wind and rain.

Monarda fistulosa seed heads look very ornamental

Seed heads and grasses in the morning sunshine

Echinacea purpurea has long-lasting seed heads

I have used the Christmas holidays to rearrange some of the borders which looked a bit crowded. The remaining plants have more space now and I even created some new planting opportunities for my never-ending supply of young perennial plants from the greenhouse. I will start sowing again soon when the seeds from the HPS seed distribution scheme arrive; luckily I have some space on the greenhouse benches now to accommodate the new plants.

More space for my plants to grow and flower

Newly planted Erigeron glaucus

This year I will start a new adventure. I got a book about unusual vegetables and fruit as a Christmas present which got me very excited about trying to grow some new edible plants. Many of these unusual edibles are hardy perennials such as Chinese artichoke (Stachys affinis), Babington`s leek (Allium ampeloprasum), Hooker`s onion (Allium acuminatum), Earth chestnut (Bunium bulbocastanum), Winter purslane (Claytonia perfoliata) and Scotch lovage (Ligusticum scoticum). I will also try out some unusual hardy fruit such as Blue honeysuckle (Lonicera caerulea), Chilean guava (Ugni molinae), Nanking cherry (Prunus tomentosa) and Asian pear (Pyrus pyrifolia).

I have already planted a Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) which I have grown from seed I collected on the Canary Islands. I am not sure if it will ever fruit here in the UK but with its large hairy evergreen leaves it looks ornamental enough to warrant a place on my allotment even without the added bonus of fruit. There is also a nectarine planted on the allotment now which I have grown from a supermarket fruit. Unlike apples, nectarines and peaches come true from seed. I have also grown a pomegranate which will be planted in spring.

Loquat planted on the new allotment

Most wildlife is now quite hard to find but a few animals are very obvious such as the numerous birds which are visiting the bird feeders. For a while I had a flock of starlings monopolising the fat ball feeders but they have moved on and peace and quiet have been restored. I have also watched a flock of goldfinches eating the seeds from many of the seed heads which are still standing, a good reason not to cut back perennials too early.

A robin searching for food

Blackbirds love the apples I put out for them

My allotment robin on a cold morning

I was quite excited to find Water springtails (Sminthurides aquaticus) in my pond. They are tiny horse-faced insect-like creatures which are grazing on algae and fungi on stones at the edge of the water and on the water surface. They are quite active, even now in the middle of winter.

Water springtails at the edge of my pond

As you can see my garden year has already started and there is a lot going on already. I will be back with more tales from my allotment in February.

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


2 Comments To "My Wildlife Allotment January 2019"

Yoke van der Meer On 28.01.2019
Good blog Nadine! I am also very much into having a much more interesting allotment and see it as a little nature reserve, not having an own garden to do this. Hope to get inspiration from your blog too. I just planted Amelanchier as they have tasty small fruits but like to try more alternatives which may grow on this difficult clay soil in the midlands! Reply to this comment
Nadine Mitschunas On 30.01.2019
Thank you! Amelanchier is a very pretty tree, my mom has one in her garden. I would plant one as well but I don`t really like the taste of the berries. But it is great for wildlife. Many fruit trees should grow quite well on clay soil. I have just bought two more trees, a Persimmon 'Nikitas Gift' and a Japanese Plum 'Satsuma'. My idea is now to develop a little forest garden as I really like the idea of having an edible garden which looks pretty as well and is good for wildlife. Like you I don`t have a garden at home.
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