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Recent Postings

My Wildlife Allotment December 2021

Papaver rupifragum flowers all through summer and autumn, and only stops producing new flowers in really frosty weather.

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On a Chalk Hillside November 2021

The second article I ever wrote on this blog was to tell you about planting our mixed native hedge along the 40 meter long orchard boundary in December 2014, and this article is to tell you about its growth in the subsequent years, and its current status.

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My Wildlife Allotment November 2021

The only bumblebees I still see flying around are common carder bumblebees (Bombus pascuorum). They are normally the last bumblebees you see in your garden before winter arrives in earnest. Good late-flowering bumblebee plants are single-flowered dahlias and Verbena bonariensis.

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From The HPS 'Journal' October 2021

The apple tree and its fruit are well represented throughout history, in mythology and early worship. Rameses III, an Egyptian pharaoh, encouraged people to make offerings of apples at a temple in Thebes, but he also allowed the more realistic back-up option of bone-marrow extracted from a camel, if you were short of apples.

On a Chalk Hillside October 2021

As this month ends in Halloween, I thought I would get you in the mood with a couple of my scary garden monsters!

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Eco Plant Whisperer October 2021

What I really like with working with Veronicastrum is that it's a perennial species that works well in various positions in the perennial planting  scheme, it's a very versatile plant to work with.

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My Wildlife Allotment October 2021

Still flowering is Clematis tangutica ‘Golden Tiara’. I love the small yellow lantern-like flowers which are followed by large, fluffy seed heads. I also have Clematis tangutica ‘Golden Harvest’ which is scrambling through the rambler rose ‘Albertine’. The flowers are smaller and have less purple stamens but are equally pretty.

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Eco Plant Whisperer September 2021 #2

Rhodochiton atrosanguineus (Purple Bell Vine) family (Plantaginaceae)  is a real eye catcher that will flower from late spring through until autumn. This stunning flowering climber can grow up to 3 metres! 

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On a Chalk Hillside September 2021

This summer has been “mixed” weather-wise for us on our Chalk Hillside.  We had the hot dry early spring-time as during the first lockdown last year.  April into May we remembered the lessons from last year.

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My Wildlife Allotment September 2021

Butterflies have been plentiful in August, especially peacock butterflies and admirals. But there were also many large and small whites, some commas, small tortoiseshells, brimstones and painted ladies. Echinacea purpurea is always a favourite with butterflies ...

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Eco Plant Whisperer September 2021 #1

One of the aspects I really enjoy is planting combinations ! Plant associations and how plants visually work well together, complementing each other in terms of foliage and flower colour and structure. 

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On a Chalk Hillside August 2021

I was concerned that these Papaver Somniferum variations (which remind me of 1950 bathing caps) would not be good for polinators, but as you can see,  I needn't have worried

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My Wildlife Allotment August 2021

I love caterpillars and I am always on the lookout for new species I have not seen before on the allotment. A few weeks ago I found a chamomile shark caterpillar (Cucullia chamomillae) for the first time on my allotment, feeding on some Anthemis flowers. They like feeding on the centre of the flower which leaves a tell-tale hole ...

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Conservation Feature July 2021

Geranium x oxonianum ‘Fran’s Star’ is doing well in my garden this summer, full of flowers and with lots of lush leaves. It is a clump forming plant, but with long stems of small star-shaped pink flowers and mid-green leaves with brown markings.

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On a Chalk Hillside July 2021

 Before we could replant the top half of the subshrubs and bulbs border this winter, we had to remove the giant in the bed. Removing the Lavatera cachemiriana was such a big decision, and it was such a big plant.
Plus - how to side shoot tomato plants.

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My Wildlife Allotment July 2021

Damselflies have made an appearance, not only near the pond; occasionally I also find them in other areas of the allotment. Early mornings are good for photographing them as they are still cold from the night and reluctant to fly away.

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On a Chalk Hillside June 2021

Moving on this month to the part of the ‘L’ shaped bed that runs from the Gunnera manicata bed path to the decking steps above the groynes, and therefore directly above the tiny shade border I talked about two months ago.

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My Wildlife Allotment June 2021

One of the prettiest solitary bees in my opinion is the tawny mining bee (Andrena fulva) which I often see visiting the apple and cherry flowers. These bees build nests in the ground which consist of a tunnel with one or more nesting chambers at the end. The excavated soil is often piled up above ground and looks a bit like an ants nest with a hole in the middle.

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May 2021 Conservation Feature

Spring is a time for dividing plants and making new ones. That’s exactly what I’ve done this week with my Geranium ‘Pink Delight’.
I kept it in its pot last year so I could trial it in different parts of the garden. Eventually I decided it belonged at the base of an arching trellis where I have planted a climbing rose. It gets sun there most of the day, and because I keep the rose well watered, plenty of moisture too. 

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On a Chalk Hillside May 2021

Over the bank holiday weekend I had been crawling round various plants in the garden trying to get an “in-focus” shot in stiff easterly winds which have plagued us for most of April to show you this month’s star plants, when I got caught face down by my newish neighbours who asked if I was taking an art shot. 

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My Wildlife Allotment May 2021

It was completely unexpected. When I opened the curtains on Monday morning, the 12th of April, all was white outside and it was snowing heavily. The allotment looked like a winter wonderland. Not much gardening could be done but I could at least build a little snow rat who was enjoying the snow much more than I did. By mid-day the sun was so strong that most of the snow had disappeared and the winter wonderland of the morning seemed like a distant dream.

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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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