Category: bees

May Miscellany

Scrambling through the shrubbery

Scrambling through the shrubbery

Sunshine at last here in the north Cotswolds (second day running!) and, according to the Met Office weather chart, it’s pretty much stable over the whole of England and Wales. High pressure of 1024 millibars over the whole country, so not much damaging wind either. The sunshine is much needed to encourage my young seedlings to put on a growth spurt. It’s been far too cold for newly sown veg to thrice, except the lettuce under cloches. And the high winds a couple of days ago have destroyed any chance of a crop of walnuts this year – all the male catkins were blown off before pollinating the female flowers.

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The greening of late Spring

self-seeded honesty in the orchard

self-seeded honesty in the orchard will have beautiful seed heads in the Autumn

At last – sunshine! And warmth, sufficient to sit outside; sufficient for my courgette seeds to germinate in only a week after sowing. Foxgloves (Digitalis) in the courtyard potager are flowering, grown from plant plugs supplied last year; their tall green spikes ‘navigating’ towards the sun. Everywhere are the signs of a late Spring – a hum of bees in the orchard, and in the wild area by the ‘eco-garden’ a female blackbird collects a beakful of moss, tugging it from a thatch of over-wintered plant detritus. She hops into a tangle of honeysuckle growing through a Jargonelle pear. Cow parsley and honesty have colonized the space around a century-old fallen apple tree – a magnet for orange-tip butterflies. Wild flowers and weeds abound in this acre; tolerating their existence whilst keeping them under control benefits the garden, bio-diversity and the environment.

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Moving on with Ornamentals

self-seeded alliums in the neglected shrubbery

Joys to come: self-seeded alliums in the neglected shrubbery
– note the encroaching brambles!

It is truly remarkable what a little bit of neglect can do to a garden!  Flowers secretly proliferate and propagate themselves; plants that began life as a single plant or seed: and almost without warning, you have a multitude of young seedlings, or a bank of blossoms. It has happened in our own acre over the years, and brings such delight whenever something unexpected occurs. Such finds do not prevent me from endlessly increasing my stock of new seeds and plants, but what began as a bag of three summer-flowering bulbs, is by now a drift of purple starbursts (or will be next month).

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The remarkable ‘Edible Garden Show’

Stall holders were busy selling throughout the Show

Stall holders were busy selling throughout the Show

I’m just back home after spending the day at ‘The Edible Garden Show’ at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, just outside Leamington Spa. Before I enthuse about the exhibitors, there are still two days when you can visit, if you are in the area, and grab a slice of the ‘Good Life’. Just click on this link for more details. High quality plants, seeds, equipment and advice were in evidence throughout the two halls and a marquee – all undercover, so no problems if the weather turns wet over the weekend. The Show focused on more than just edible plants: livestock and food stalls, plus plenty of gardening advice, given by individual exhibitors or in the Experts Theatre.

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False Spring?

species crocus, with visiting honeybees

species crocus, with visiting honeybees

Here in the north Cotswolds it has been remarkably warm this last week; so much so, we were able to eat lunch outside one day in our sheltered ‘Courtyard Potager’. Could we be fooled into thinking that spring has sprung early? Crocuses opened their delicate floral goblets wide in the sunshine and were a mass of honey bees. Remarkable, that; we usually see bumbles long before hive bees. But bumbles actually prefer wild flowers (weeds). If you have none in your garden, it pays to cultivate some! For without bees – of any sort – you will lessen the chance of a damson crop, or other early-flowering tree fruits. If the thoughts of weeds (wildlings) in your garden is anathema to you, plant up a few pots, and keep down self-setters such as annual red-deadnettle, and creepers like the perennial white variety, and the violet-scented but insidious winter heliotrope. All three are in flower now, and serve their purpose at this time of year in attracting bees.

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