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My Wildlife Allotment March 2021

After a very cold period in mid-February with temperatures dropping down to -7C and the soil and pond remaining frozen for days on end, we now had some spring-like weather with temperatures up to 15C. What a difference! Suddenly all the crocuses and snowdrops opened their flowers in the warm sunshine; before they had remained firmly shut. Bees started to arrive, collecting pollen and nectar. Birds were more active and started to sing more loudly. But after this one week of spring-like weather winter is back with cold frosty nights, but luckily some nice sunny days.

I have cut most of the seed heads and deciduous grasses down to the ground, there is just a bit left which I want to finish at the weekend. The allotment looks a bit bare now but soon new growth will start and everything will be greening up again. I've nearly finished planting all the new fruit trees, there is just a cherry still to plant and a couple of sea-buckthorn bushes. I have also planted 2 more Clematis, C. alpina ‘Blue Dancer’ with pale-purple flowers and C. alpina ‘Constance’ with pink flowers. My mom has C. alpina growing over the fence in her front garden and it always looks a picture in spring, so I thought it's time for me to grow this lovely Clematis as well.

The allotment is looking quite bare now,
but not for long

A cold morning on the allotment

Crocuses are opening their flowers
in the warm sunshine

The snowdrops have nearly finished flowering now but they lasted quite a long time in the cold weather. I have ordered some more snowdrops-in-the-green to plant under the loquat tree on the new allotment as this area looks a bit bare at the moment. I have also decided to plant more crocus corms in autumn as there is not much colour on the new allotment at this time of year, compared to the other 2 allotments which look really nice already in several areas. Cyclamen coum is still flowering well, looking really pretty together with the snowdrops. The dark-purple flowered Cyclamen start flowering later than the pale-purple flowered Cyclamen, normally at the end of January with the pale purple Cyclamen starting in December which gives me a long time to enjoy these beautiful little flowers.

The snowdrops are enjoying the sunshine

Snowdrops and Cyclamen
look pretty flowering together

Colourful crocuses and snowdrops

I have planted a few crocus corms years ago, all have now spread quite considerably with plants turning up in places where I never planted any crocuses initially. First to flower are normally dark yellow Crocus crysanthus, followed by pale purple C. tommasinianus and dark purple C. vernus. Two years ago I added C. sieberi ‘Tricolor’ but this species seems to be quite weak-growing compared to the others and has not spread at all so far.

Crocuses are waiting for the bees to arrive

Pretty pale and dark purple crocuses

Frosted Cyclamen coum flowers

The first daffodils are starting to flower now, adding some splashes of yellow to the allotment. I have a lot of the small daffodils such as ‘Tete-a-Tete’ and ‘Jetfire’ as they grow well on my windy allotment. I also really like white ‘Thalia’. Later I will have Narcissus poeticus flowering which I am already looking forward to. Together with the already mentioned snowdrops-in-the-green I also ordered some wild Narcissus pseudonarcissus which I want to plant on the new allotment. I have seen carpets of them in a few wilder places which looked beautiful and I want to create something similar but on a smaller scale on my allotment.

Buds are swelling on many of the fruit trees with the Japanese plum (Prunus salicina) racing ahead with flowers opening and leaves unfolding. Luckily the colder weather we have now is holding the tree back from opening all its flowers at the same time. This gives them a chance to get pollinated in warmer weather and I can hopefully eat some juicy plums later this year. The little Cornus mas tree is flowering now as well. I find close-up the yellow flowers look quite beautiful. I planted this tree two years ago but last year the leaves developed some unsightly black spots which grew in size with the leaves eventually dying and falling off. New leaves which subsequently grew got the same large black spots. I did a bit of research on the internet and now think the tree is infected with Cornus anthracnose, a fungal disease that kills the leaves and young shoots of some Cornus species, as it looks similar to what is happening to my tree. There is not really a cure but infection levels vary from year to year and it helps to destroy the leaves in autumn. I have planted the little tree in a different spot now to see if it helps.

The first daffodils are starting to flower

The Japanese plum is rearing to go,
with buds bursting already

The flowers of Cornus mas look quite beautiful

It was great to see the first bumblebee queens coming out in the spring-like weather we had a week ago. I've mainly seen large buff-tailed bumblebee queens (Bombus terrestris), making a bee-line for my crocus flowers. Once woken up by warm temperatures the queens have to find nectar quickly or they will starve. Good that I have all these crocuses on the allotment now which are also visited by early hoverflies and solitary bees. It was also warm enough for the honeybees from the hives we now have on the allotment site to come out. They were all over my crocus flowers but also liked the snowdrops and Cyclamen. I bet quite a lot of the honey these bees produce comes from my allotment.

The first bumblebee queens are out and about

Honeybees are all over the crocuses

A honeybee is collecting pollen

Will spring arrive soon or will we get more cold weather in March? We will find out soon. I will be back with more tales from my 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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