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My Wildlife Allotment April 2021

Spring has taken its time this year. Night temperatures are mostly still close to 0C despite sunny days and plant growth is very slow so far. The allotment is only slowly greening up with just a few splashes of colour appearing here and there from daffodils, early tulips, hyacinths, Anemone blanda and early tree blossom. I also have several small patches of native primroses (Primula vulgaris) which have spread from just two plants which I planted several years ago. I also have a purple flowered primula which I think is Primula juliae, which looks very similar to our native primrose and is tough and spreads well too.

The allotment is still looking quite bare

Daffodils and primroses provide some early colour

I love our native primrose, Primula vulgaris

Anemone blanda opens its pretty flowers in the sunshine and has spread in several areas now. I have to be careful where I walk as it seems to favour the edges of the paths, but it is also spreading well in the steppe planting. Small solitary bees like to visit the flowers but I have not seen any so far this year as it has been mostly too cold for them. I have left some patches of lesser celandine (Ficaria verna) in the raspberry bed and adjacent areas as I like the bright yellow flowers so much. The plants only grow actively in spring and then disappear underground so don’t get in the way of later plants. The flowers only open in sunshine and are nearly invisible on dull days.

A pale blue Anemone blanda

Blue Anemone blanda and yellow Ficaria verna

Anemone blanda has self-seeded in several areas now

The wild tulips behave in a similar way with nearly invisible flowers on cloudy days and wide open flowers on sunny days to entice pollinators. The earliest wild tulip on my allotment is Tulipa turkestanica, a pretty, quite delicate looking tulip with yellow and white flowers. I have planted it in the steppe area and on a raised area which I call the Mediterranean garden, and in both areas it seems to be happy. Another yellow and white flowered tulip I planted is Tulipa polychroma which looks very pretty when the sun is shining. Tulipa ‘Scarlet Baby’ is a Kaufmanniana tulip variety and has vivid red flowers. It really stands out on a sunny day.

Tulipa turkestanica
is one of the earliest species tulips to flower

Tulipa polychroma

Tulip 'Scarlet Baby'

Not quite flowering yet is yellow-flowered Tulipa sylvestris which likes its place under the currant bushes. I have also planted a few new tulip species such as Tulipa orphanidea and T. aximensis. It will be interesting to see how the actual plants compare to the pictures I have seen. A bit late but just starting to flower is Pulsatilla vulgaris of which I have several plants, some raised from seed and some bought as young plants. Flower colour varies and ranges from red to dark purple. I really love the hairy flower buds which look very pretty in the early morning light after a cold night. I have read that the solitary mason bee Osmia bicolor, which nests in snail shells on my allotment, likes collecting pollen from Pulsatilla vulgaris. Luckily there will be no shortage of flowers soon.

Tulipa sylvestris will soon be flowering

The first pasque flower is opening

Pulsatilla vulgaris
looks pretty in the early morning light

After a slow start quite a lot of my hellebore plants are still in full flower. I have also found some seedlings which are welcome as they grow in the right place. Another surprise was finding some young self-seeded Eremurus plants in one of my flower borders near a large Eremurus plant with orange flowers. I had already seen these seedlings last year but as they were very small and just had one long leaf, similar to Allium seedlings, I did not know what they were and I just left them to see what plant they would develop into. This is the first time my Eremurus plants have self-seeded which is really nice.

Helleborus x hybridus is still in full flower

Hellebore seedlings are germinating

Eremurus seedlings
are growing in one of my borders

The Narcissus pseudonarcissus bulbs arrived a few weeks ago and I planted them straight away. After a few days the plants had recovered from the transplanting shock and many are now flowering. Hopefully they will like the position and start multiplying to eventually cover the whole area. Around the pond the first flowers of Caltha palustris are open, inviting bees and early butterflies to visit. Some of the peonies are coming out as well now, they are all young plants and will probably not flower this year. The prettiest of them with bright red leaves is Paeonia ‘Early Scout’. It will develop into a handsome plant which has small red flowers in spring. I don’t really like the peonies with large blousy flowers which need to be staked so I bought a few more wild-looking peonies which hopefully stay upright on their own. I am also trying to germinate some peony seeds from the HPS seed distribution scheme which will probably need a lot of patience.

Wild daffodil Narcissus pseudonarcissus

The first Caltha palustris flowers

Peony 'Early Scout'
is emerging with brilliant red leaves

The little Japanese plum tree (Prunus salicina) is now in full flower. It looks very pretty and will hopefully have some juicy plums later this year. I have seen some bees pollinating the flowers so there is a fair chance at least some plums will develop. It is not a good year for my frogs as I only have two small clumps of frog spawn in the pond so far and have only seen one lonely male frog patiently waiting for some females to arrive. He was even croaking a bit to increase his chances but there are still no female frogs to be seen. I think the cold winter and cold start to spring is to blame and hopefully more frogs will arrive once it warms up.

My little Japanese plum tree is in full flower now

The first frogspawn has appeared

A lonely male frog is waiting for a female to arrive

Will proper spring arrive soon with flowers opening everywhere and bees buzzing? Hopefully! 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


2 Comments To "My Wildlife Allotment April 2021"

Nadine On 14.04.2021
Hi A hardy perennial plant survives average low winter temperatures and comes back each year for several years a least. Perennial plants are divided into herbaceous and woody. A hardy herbaceous perennial plants dies completely down each winter and only the roots and growing points survive. A hardy woody perennial plants grows a woody framework which survives winter and gets new shoots and leaves each spring. Reply to this comment
Chris Mayo On 03.04.2021
Dear fellow gardeners.. I wondered if you could explain something to me. I am a very keen Allotmenteer, I pass a sign with HPS on my way to my plot..what is a Hardy perennial, what is the hook? I could read it in a book or look on Youtube, but lockdown has made me realise how important human interaction really is. Reply to this comment
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