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Recent Postings

On a Chalk Hillside August 2022

The fact I have so many self-seeded geraniums shows you that I am not ruthless enough to cut them back when the flowering wanes – a version of the Hampton Hack – ie I don’t cut the geraniums down to the ground once the first flush of flowers are over quick enough to stop seeds being formed.

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Eco Plant Whisperer August 2022

The eye catching blood red tubular flowers of Lobelia tupa makes this perennial a strong talking point! Commonly known as Devil's Tobacco, Lobelia tupa belongs to the family (Campanulaceae) and is native to Chile. 

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My Wildlife Allotment August 2022

I have seen many butterflies on my allotment recently, especially many peacock butterflies which love the Echinacea flowers, and brimstones which like the early-flowering Aster x frickartii ‘Mönch’ and the flowers of Dianthus carthusianorum.

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Conservation Feature July 2022

Those HPS members who participate in the Conservation Scheme will know that I am keen to keep growing the plants that have been taken out of the scheme because they are now more widely grown. One of my favourite scheme plants that was not successful with other growers is Crocosmia ‘Vic’s Yellow’.

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Eco Plant Whisperer July 2022

Cephalaria Gigantea is a great architectural plant to mix within planting schemes, also known as the Giant Pin Cushion flower, due to the shape of the flower heads, even more so after the Corolla has fallen. This perennial is a superb wildlife friendly plant to attract pollinating insects.

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On a Chalk Hillside July 2022

So FINALLY after all these months of one thing leading to another, we are about to deal with the new polytunnel. The new tunnel was going to be 20ft x12ft (6.1m x 3.66m) and having learned from putting up the original tunnel that it is REALLY difficult to get the plastic to lay flat over a tunnel that is on a steep slope, we tried hard to make the surface much flatter.

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My Wildlife Allotment July 2022

Another more well-behaved plant which is also very drought-resistant is Catananche caerulea. I love the brilliant blueish-purple flowers which open in abundance at the end of June. Hoverflies and solitary bees love to visit the flowers.

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On a Chalk Hillside June 2022

I am always spoiled for choice on June star plants in the garden.  This year I’ve chosen an Oriental Poppy  (Papaver Orientale) from 14 June 2021 – with self-seeded Geranium endressii round it – it’s a slightly pinkier version of the red Oriental Poppy I have elsewhere in the garden, which I bought from a Yellow Book garden one year without knowing what colour it might come out. 

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My Wildlife Allotment June 2022

Plants seem much happier now and nearly grow before my eyes with more and more flowers opening everywhere. Papaver orientale has huge flowers which add a real wow factor to the allotment

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On a Chalk Hillside May 2022

May is the time of year I am excitedly dashing out to the hotbed in the greenhouse each day watching the HPS seeds I sowed in April for signs of germination and growth.

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Eco Plant Whisperer May 2022

Soldanella montana comprises exquisite delicate nodding violet/blue flowers, the undersides are greyish in colour, with fringed petals. This little gem will flower from April - May, and can be planted in any good soil, and thrives in part shade.

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My Wildlife Allotment May 2022

The small seaside garden I created last year is starting to come into its own with Armeria maritima and Tulipa clusiana flowering at the moment. There is also a small Dianthus with very similar-looking flowers to the Armeria 

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On a Chalk Hillside April 2022

 A late April star plant from the pond, Caltha palustris, with shafts of Iris pseudacorus ‘Variegata’ poking through.

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My Wildlife Allotment April 2022

I have also added to my little bonsai tree collection with some crab apples, namely Malus hupehensis, M. sieboldii and M. yunnanensis, which all produce quite small fruit and nice autumn colours.

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On a Chalk Hillside March 2022

As this is a March piece, I shall show you two of my quintessential spring flowers that are stars in March – the violet (Viola riviniana), and here, the primrose (Primula vulgaris) – their freshness brings joy to my heart

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Conservation Feature March 2022

Vinca minor 'Mrs Betty James' was introduced by the Shropshire group in 2017, it had caught the attention of Bob Brown of Cotswold Garden Flowers. He is the one who named it after the woman who brought it to a plant sale.

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My Wildlife Allotment March 2022

Bumblebee queens are emerging now and will be hungry after a long hibernation. Crocuses provide valuable food in the form of pollen and nectar, and are eagerly visited by the queens. Other useful plants for early bumblebees are late-flowering mahonia such as Mahonia aquifolium, hellebores, pussy willows and winter heathers such as Erica carnea and E. x darleyensis.

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Woodland Planting

Assessing which way to go now in terms of evolving and developing the woodland setting is crucial in order to get ahead, not only for the sake of the garden, but for wildlife too ! 

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On a Chalk Hillside February 2022

A star plant at the beginning of February 21 is the Winter Aconite, Eranthis hyemalis, coming up in the orchard grass under an apple tree

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My Wildlife Allotment February 2022

Despite the cold frosty weather there is already a tiny bit of colour appearing from early spring bulbs. The winter aconites have come out but have had no chance of opening their flowers yet as it has been too cold. Snowdrops are just showing a bit of white at the top ...

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On a Chalk Hillside January 2022

Happy New Year to you all.  The photos in this article are all from New Year’s Day 2021, when it was VERY VERY frosty (unlike this year when it was very mild and very wet!)

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Conservation Feature January 2022

I have always felt fairly neutral about Hemerocallis. It’s not that I don’t like them, but they were never one of those plants that reached out and grabbed me and said “Take me home!” 

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My Wildlife Allotment January 2022

Once the containers were filled I started planting. I have already planted a few Sarracenia plants such as S. flava and two hybrids, also several sundews such as Drosera filiformis and Drosera rotundifolia, and three Venus fly trap plants (Dionea muscipula).

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On a Chalk Hillside December 2021

I was egged on to take the secateurs to our yew by my friend Mary who was visiting one September.   Unlike all the shapes above, I originally intended to make a spiral, as we had hoped to do to our box pyramids in pots either side of the front door when we lived in London. 

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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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