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Recent Postings

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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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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