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My Wildlife Allotment April 2020

The allotment is looking greener every day with shoots emerging everywhere and early flowers popping up in many places. Some of the fruit trees, such as the peach trees, apricot, nectarine, almond and greengage, are flowering now as well. The rain has finally stopped and the days are mostly sunny and warm, but unfortunately we also have some very cold nights, occasionally with frost, which holds everything back a bit. I have also refrained from outdoor sowing as the night temperatures need to be at least 6C for successful germination. The greenhouse has proved very useful already as I could start a lot of the seeds in there and most things have germinated and are growing nicely. I have quite a lot of little perennial seedlings and small plants from the HPS seed distribution scheme such as Leonurus sibirica, Borago pygmeus and Nepeta tuberosa. I am really looking forward to seeing them grow and hopefully flower later this year or next year.

The allotment looking greener and
more colourful now

A frosty morning

Young perennial plants in the greenhouse

Various different tulips are providing spots of colour on the allotment. Tulipa sylvestris is growing under the currant bushes and seems to be very happy there. The flowers remain closed in cold and rainy weather but with some sunshine they open fully and look really beautiful. One tulip which is really standing out at the moment is Tulipa praestans. The flowers have such a vivid red colour that they are visible even from further away. I also have a very pretty white-flowered tulip which is coming back every year. This tulip is much larger than the wild tulips but fits in well in my naturalistic planting scheme. For years now I have tried to acquire some bulbs of the exquisite Tulipa sprengeri but have not been successful so far. I got some seeds instead from the HPS seed distribution scheme which I scattered under the cherry plum tree in January. Wish me luck I get some seedlings soon.

Tulipa sylvestris is looking beautiful

The incredibly red flowers of Tulipa praestans

This white-flowered tulip is very reliable

Caltha palustris is flowering now as well at the edge of one of the small ponds. The large yellow flowers attract quite a diverse range of early pollinators such as hoverflies, solitary bees, honeybees, butterflies and bumblebees. Eagerly anticipated are also pasque flowers which always start flowering around Easter, hence the common name. I grow Pulsatilla vulgaris which is planted in the steppe areas and the little prairie. Beside the common pale purple-flowered native Pulsatilla vulgaris I also grow a variety with red flowers which looks very pretty as well.

Caltha palustris is flowering
at the edge of the small pond

Beautiful Pulsatilla vulgaris is flowering

A red-flowered variety of Pulsatilla vulgaris

The sunny weather has brought out the bumblebee queens which are busily flying around, searching for nectar and nesting places. Solitary bees are out and about as well and some ground-nesting bees have already started digging their nests in some of my flower borders. I have even seen a solitary bee pollinating my almond flowers so I might get some almonds this year. A healthy population of solitary bees always attracts bee flies which parasitise the bees. Bee flies often hover over solitary bee nests and flick their eggs into the tunnels when the bees are away to collect pollen. The bee fly larva hatches very quickly and walks down the tunnel into the solitary bee nest. Here they eat the pollen provisions for the bee larva and finally the bee larva as well. But there are always enough solitary bee nests which are not parasitised so a balance between host and parasite is maintained.

Bumblebee queens are out and about

My almond flowers are pollinated
by little solitary bees

Bee flies like to drink nectar from Muscari flowers

As my workplace is shut now due to the Coronavirus crisis I have more time during the day to come to the allotment. Being there is really relaxing and helps to focus just on gardening and enjoying nature with everything else kept in the background. I hope everyone else can enjoy their garden in these difficult times. I will be back with more tales from my wildlife allotment next month.

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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