Saturday, 25 July 2015

July in pictures

 Echium "Blue Bedder" - one of the bee's favourites.

Summer stunner: Helenium "Sahin's Early Flowerer"


 Scabious "Cambridge Blue"

 Hoverflies out in good numbers this month...

...as well as ladybirds.

Hoverfly and thunderflies on Dahlia "Redskin".

 Hoverfly on Shirley poppy.

 White-tailed bumblebee on field scabious.

 Buff-tailed on opium poppy.

 Tree bumblebee on scabious.

 Another lovely hoverfly...

...and another.

 Agastache foenicolium and Rudbeckia "Marmalade" making a nice combination.

Small tortoiseshell caterpillars on all-important nettles.

 Large skipper on one of the best plants for butterflies - perennial wallflower "Bowle's Mauve"...
  
...and small tortoiseshell on the same.

Flowers in the orchard

The most success I've had with planting plug plants in the meadow area of the orchard - and the one most popular with the bees - has been with tufted vetch. Also flowering this month is the much-maligned ragwort, clover, buttercups, rosebay willowherb and self-heal. The long grass also gives shelter to numerous other invertebrates, frogs and hedgehogs.


Nectar plants in July

What's been flowering for the bees and butterflies this month:

Agastache foenicolium 
Agastache foenicolium "Golden Jubilee"
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) 
Asparagus 
Aster frikartii "Monch"
Astrantia major 
Bishop's Flower (Ammi majus)
Blood Pink (Dianthus cruentus)
Borage 
Buddleia
Bramble 
Candytuft
Catmint (Nepeta mussini)
Cirsium rivulare "Atropurpureum" 
Clover - wild, white
Coreopseris vertverticillata
Cornflower
Cosmos "Sensation Mixed"
Cupid's Dart (Catananche)
Dahlia "Redskin" 
Echinacea purpurea
Echium "Blue Bedder"
Felicia "The Blues"
Field scabious (Knautia arvensis)
Foxgloves
Geranium "Johnsons Blue"
Geranium pratense "Mrs Kendall Clark"
Giant Scabious (Cephalaria gigantia)
Golden Marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria "Sauce Hollandaise") 
Helenium "Sahin's Early Flowerer"
Hyssop
Lavender
Love-in-a-mist 
Mallow - wild
Marjoram (Origanum marjorana)
Nicotiana "Lime Green"
Night-scented stock
Peas
Phacelia tanacetifolia
Poppies - cornfield, opium and Shirley 
Potentilla atrosanguinea 
Ragwort
Raspberry
Rose Campion 
Rosebay willowherb
Rudbeckia "Marmalade"
Runner beans 
Salvia x superba "Rose Queen"
Scabiosa atropurpurea "Oxford Blue" 
Scabiosa caucasia "Perfect Blue" 
Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris)
Snapdragon 
Tufted vetch
Verbena bonariensis
Veronica spicata
Wallflower "Bowles Mauve" 
Wild basil (Clinopodium vulgare)

Saturday, 27 June 2015

June

So the solstice has been and gone and I can finally stop living off asparagus and leaf beet. Broad beans, peas, carrots and cabbage all coming on stream now. A bit behind with the blogging this year but I can't get everything right.

I'm continuing my experiments with which plants are best for bees and butterflies and have planted my favorites along with some newbies, more of which later.

Hope you're all having a good season and enjoying the sun at last!




Plants for bees and butterflies in June

Plenty of candy this month, here's what's flowering out on the plot:

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)
Astrantia major
Blood Pink (Dianthus cruentus)
Borage
Bramble
Campion - red and rose
Catmint (Nepeta mussini)
Cirsium rivulare "Atropurpureum"
Clover
Cupid's Dart (Catananche)
Dahlia "Redskin"
Echium "Blue Bedder"
Felicia "The Blues"
Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis)
Foxgloves
Geranium "Johnsons Blue"
Geranium pratense "Mrs Kendall Clark"
Giant Scabious (Cephalaria gigantia)
Golden Marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria "Sauce Hollandaise")
Love-in-a-mist
Marjoram (Origanum marjorana)
Mustard
Nicotiana "Lime Green"
Night-scented stock
Peas
Penstemon "Summer Bluebell"
Phacelia bolanderi
Phacelia tanacetifolia
Poppies - cornfield and Shirley
Rose - wild
Sainfoin (Onobrychis vicifolia)
Snapdragon
Wallflower - wild and "Bowles Mauve"

 Tree bumblebee on Giant Scabious

 Red-tailed bumblebee going for Bladder Campion

 Buff-tailed bumblebee on Phacelia

 Buff-tailed on Borage

 Astrantia major

 Carder bees on Sainfoin

 The humble clover

Foxglove

Night-scented stock

 Blood Pink

In the orchard

Looks like I'll be in for a bumper crop from the top fruit this year: apples, pears, plums and cherries all looking good. I've managed the grass a little differently this year - still leaving most of it long but cutting it until mid May so it doesn't grow quite so long and thick, but plenty long enough for the wildlife to benefit from. As far as flowers for the meadow go I've planted some hardy geranium "Johnson's Blue" in there - it's a good plant for the pollinators and vigorous enough to compete with the grass. The ox-eye daisies which I put in as plug plants a few years ago have all but disappeared - I've since found out that it's a pioneer plant and that's how it behaves. You live and learn. The other plugs I put in were some vetches and they're thriving. The red campion which I put in as seed still keeps doing it's thing. Other than that there's what was there all along - a profusion of dandelions which in the spring are a useful source of nectar when there's not much else flowering and now clover, buttercups and self-heal. And there's more than enough flowers in the garden, it's the long grass which is so good for the wildlife.


The other pleasure in June is the flowering of the elderberry trees and dog roses, especially the one which has climbed into my plum tree:


Most modern garden roses are hopeless for pollinators but any of the wild or open-centred single flower types are great.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Spring equinox

Well the equinox is here and I can get on with sowing some seeds. Whether I carry on with this blog is another matter, it seems to have fizzled out last summer; only time will tell I guess. In the meantime here's a picture of this morning's solar eclipse over our site.



Tuesday, 29 July 2014

July

No shortage of fresh produce from the plot at this time of year. The peas are over but there's runner and climbing French beans, carrots, cabbages, kale, tomatoes, wild rocket and mizuna, blackberries, raspberries and cherry plums.

A heatwave in the middle of the month has brought out plenty of butterflies and there's been no shortage of bees either. Plenty of nectar rich plants for them here of course - just about everything that was flowering last July is at it again, plus a few new ones too.


Also around this month is the beautiful white plume moth. I call them angel moths, although that's probably something altogether different . Apparently the caterpillars feed on bindweed. I knew it must be useful for something - so now I know.


Newbies

New this year and all grown from seed.


Echium plantanigium "Dwarf Blue Bedder" - the cultivated variety of the wild E. vulgare or Vipers Bugloss - very popular with the bees as unlike most flowering plants it gives off nectar all day long. Like phacelia the stems uncurl producing more and more flowers.

Madia elegans "Tropical Fruits" - another one popular with the bees and smells like pineapple. Fruity.


Cosmos "Pied Piper". Cosmos are a useful plant for the bees as they'll go on flowering right up to the first frosts if dead-headed regularly. This new one has these rather funky fluted petals.


Agastache foeniculum (Anise Hyssop) - another useful addition, this tender perennial smells of liquorice.

 Nicotiana alata "Lime Green" - I couldn't resist the unusual colour of this one. Good for moths and smells lush too.


 Achillea "Summer Pastels" - the shape of achillea flowers make the perfect landing pad for butterflies.
  
 Salvia farinacia "Victoria". Another tender perennial for the bees.


Heliotrope "Marine". So many bedding plants are hopeless for bees and butterflies (think geraniums and begonias) but not so this Victorian favorite. Excellent in the ground or pots.  

Scabious

The scabious family is worth a mention of it's own as they're so good for attracting the bees and butterflies. Earlier in the summer the giant scabious Cephaloria gigantia was out and now there's a few more of the tribe, all grown from seed: the wild field scabious (Knautia arvensis), the perennial S. caucasia "Perfect Blue" and two annuals - "Tall Double Mixed" - which got through the winter and is flowering for a second summer - and new this year "Cambridge Blue".