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Recent Postings

On a Chalk Hillside April 2021

Because the Golden Hop (Humulus lupulus 'Aureus') is so rampant, I planted shade-loving winter plants directly beside it - a  dusky pink Helleborus orientalis seedling and a Harts Tongue Fern (Asplenium scolopendrium)

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My Wildlife Allotment April 2021

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. I have left some patches of lesser celandine (Ficaria verna) in the raspberry bed and adjacent areas as I like the bright yellow flowers ...

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March 2021 Conservation Feature

My latest Lockdown Project is to re-vamp an old bed on my allotment. This was almost the first section I worked and planted up when I took on the plot. It was meant to be an herbaceous bed in a sea of vegetables. It’s where I planted out my first Conservation Scheme plants

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On a Chalk Hillside March 2021

I planted the Irish primrose Primula vulgaris ‘Carrigdale’ in my border – it flowers for a lot of the year – last year one of the clumps in a pot was in flower by the end of January though the clumps in the border waited a few weeks to flower

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My Wildlife Allotment March 2021

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. It was also warm enough for honeybees ...

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February 2021 Conservation Feature

A plant name mystery has been discovered in the Conservation Scheme database. In January Cathy Rollinson posted on the Conservation Scheme Facebook page that the plant we list as Persicaria runcinata Needham’s form is probably really Persicaria sinuata. She found this after reading the description on the website of Growild Nursery, which now lists it as Persicaria sinuata EN. So which is it? 

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On a Chalk Hillside February 2021

The first snowdrop garden I ever visited was Hodsock Priory on the borders between Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire during the 1990’s.  They especially open round half term to allow people to walk through the formal gardens and down to the woodland where there is massed planting of Galanthus nivalis under beech trees:-

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My Wildlife Allotment Febuary 2021

The early flowers such as the winter aconites, snowdrops and Cyclamen coum were completely unfazed by the snow and looked like nothing had happened after the snow had melted away. It is amazing that such delicate-looking flowers are so tough ...

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January 2021 Conservation Feature

I was reminded lately that even in winter, our plants have something to offer. There is often a subtle beauty to them that is not obvious in high summer.

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On a Chalk Hillside January 2021

During the second lockdown, as I said last month, lots of the autumn colour in the garden was more noticeable from berries hips and seedheads than from leaves

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My Wildlife Allotment January 2021

I really like this time of year as it gives me time to plan and think.  One of my new ideas is to plant a hop (Humulus lupulus) as I really like the look and smell of the fruit and hope I can use it for making tea. I had a few more magical early mornings with frozen water droplets covering every grass and seed head ...

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Planting for winter colour, (Cyclamen coum)

The seed heads that coil on the stems to the surface of the ground are fascinating to study close up.  Cyclamen produce their seed freely,  increasing by self sown seed.

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On a Chalk Hillside December 2020

When we talk about autumn colour, it seems to me to either be talking about spectacular leaf colour on trees; or late flowering plants such as herbaceous perenials that feature in Piet Oudolf’s prairie planting schemes, or tender perennials such as dahlias, cannas etc.  

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My Wildlife Allotment December 2020

Easily over-looked are the dainty flowers of Borago pygmaea which I grew from seed obtained from the HPS seed distribution scheme. I have two plants which seem to be quite happy and have flowered for the first time this year. Hopefully the plants will thrive and delight me with flowers year after year.

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November 2020 Conservation Feature

This autumn I’m discovering a new Conservation Scheme plant – not one that is new to the scheme, but new to me. It has actually been in the scheme since 2010, introduced from the Hertfordshire group. 

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On a Chalk Hillside November 2020

I started the three articles on gardening in lockdown showing you  the shoots of Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’ just coming through in the first week of lockdown, so I shall finish by showing you it in beautiful flower on 23 July as we were coming to terms with “the new normal”

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My Wildlife Allotment November 2020

Seed heads are dominating on the allotment now, but there is still colour from late flowering perennials such as the many asters, Rudbeckia laciniata and Coreopsis ‘Full Moon’. Looking good at the moment are the seed heads of Monarda fistulosa which last for a very long time.

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On a Chalk Hillside October 2020

A star plant from the last day of May – the beautifully scented honeysuckle, Lonicera periclymenum ‘High Scentsation’.  This honeysuckle was stunning this year, huge flowers and the scent hung on the still, super-heated air for metres in all directions for several weeks

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My Wildlife Allotment October 2020

Some rain and lots of sunshine have enticed many of my plants such as Helenium, Nepeta and Geranium to start flowering again, and a large hawker dragonfly ...

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September 2020 Conservation Feature

The RHS Award of Garden Merit is given to plants after a period of assessment by experts and intended as a practical guide for the gardener. The HPS Conservation Scheme has several plants that hold AGM's such as Bergenia 'Pugsley's Pink' and Iris sibirica 'Peter Hewitt'.

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On a Chalk Hillside September 2020

Gardening has a rhythm of its own irrespective of what is happening in the wider world – the seasons change; certain plants come to the fore or go over; certain jobs have to be done at certain times.  We have been very grateful to have our garden to occupy us during lockdown. 

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My Wildlife Allotment September 2020

Many parts of my allotment are too dry for growing Sanguisorba, most of them don’t like dry soil. But so far Sanguisorba 'Pink Brushes' seems to be happy, planted in an area adjoining the mini-prairie. The flowers are pale pink and look like very hairy caterpillars ...

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Planting propagated Penstemon cuttings

My experience at plant propagation over  the years through research, learning from others, and my own hands on experience,  indicates certain plant material - woody, green, semi ripe, of many differing plant species produce higher or lower rooting potential depending on plant species, and  the time of year the cuttings are taken.

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August 2020 Conservation Feature

Perennial sedums are among the easiest plants to grow and provide a long period of interest as well as being an excellent choice to attract bees and butterflies.

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On a Chalk Hillside August 2020

If you want to actually develop an area of wildflower meadow rather than just leave a bit of lawn to grow a bit longer than usual, then you will also need to try and reduce the vigour of the grass because it is such a successful plant that it outcompetes the wild flowers.

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My Wildlife Allotment August 2020

The Striped Lychnis moth is very rare and only found in a few areas in the South of England so I am very lucky having it on my allotment. The only plant the caterpillars eat is Verbascum nigrum which I have in abundance as it self-seeds everywhere.

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On a Chalk Hillside July 2020

After the excitement of Chelsea week in our wildflower experiment of letting our grass grow last month, this time we are moving into June to see what comes up in our lawns.  This is what is happening in mine – how are your lawns looking? 

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My Wildlife Allotment July 2020

The HPS mystery seed mix provided another very special plant for my allotment which is Delphinium requienii. I have tried growing Delphiniums before but with mixed success, most were eaten by slugs before they could flower. Delphinium requienii is different ...

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June 2020 Conservation Feature

This month I thought it might be interesting to look at how some of the conservation plants have performed so far this year. There are many conservation plants still to come in the latter half of the year and I will do another review in the autumn. 

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On a Chalk Hillside June 2020

Following on from last month where I reached around St George's Day in terms of what wild flowers were coming up in my grass as I let it grow longer, this month I will carry on from the last week of April and see what grows.

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