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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ...
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
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
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 ...
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?
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:-
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 ...
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 ...
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.
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.
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”
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.
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
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'.
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.
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 ...
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.
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.