Saturday, 5 October 2013


'Tis the season - in danger of falling fruit, mystical fruitiness and all that.

Plenty to eat from the plot as usual especially fruit - blackberries, raspberries, grapes, pears, tons of plums and apples.

And spiders - lots of spiders:

Late season plants for pollinators

Many of the plants for bees and butterflies which were flowering in summer are still going strong: phacelia, nepeta, nicotiana, rose campion, snapdragons and the lovely cosmos:

And these helechrysum...

...still popular with the bees...

Not forgetting the scabious:

And the Verbena bonariensis:

Some like this Anthemis tinctoria "Sauce Hollandaise" are having a second flowering:

Whilst the perrennial wallflower "Bowle's Mauve" has been flowering non-stop since early spring:

Then there are those which save their display until now. Amongst them are the asters; some of the older varieties are prone to mildew but others like "Little Carlow" are always reliable:

This A. frikartii "Monch" has been flowering since July...

...But this A. novae angliae "Barr's Pink" which I planted new this year has only just opened it's buds:

You can see where the comma gets it's name from:

Another new one which has just come out is this Eupatorium purpureum subsp "Atropurpureum", another great butterfly plant:

But the bees favourite at the moment is this Helenium "Lemon Queen":

Also in colour:

Saturday, 31 August 2013


The thing I like most about August is that there's nothing much to do. No sowing or planting or staking, just a bit of weeding and dead heading, some watering. It's a time for raking in the harvest and sitting back and admiring my handiwork.

Plenty to eat - potatoes, peas, beans, carrots, cabbages, kale, tomatoes, raspberries, blackberries and the first plums.

Lots of bees and butterflies enjoying the flowers - it's been a good summer for them too. Except for the lavender all the plants that were flowering in July are still out now. And to top it all I was blessed with a visit from a clouded yellow, very rare in these parts.

More sexy pics

 Plot in August looking gorgeous even if I do say so myself.

 Lush scabious has to be one of the best plants for bees and butterflies...

 ...yes I should say so...

 ...and this veronica...

...but what's this...

 ...that's better...

 ...gimmee gimmee... pink...

...ah that's the money shot.


It's all very well having all these plants for pollinators but they also need places to live and breed. The top of my plot behind the trees is where I chuck all my rammel - prunings, bits of wood, piles of bricks, slabs, bits of junk that might come in handy. It might look like a tip - actually it is a tip - but to the bees it's home sweet home. No need for silly "bee hotels" and the like if you've got a tip.

For the caterpillars of our colourful garden butterflies like peacocks, small tortoiseshells and red admirals only one plant really matters - the stinging nettle. I've got several patches around the edges of my plot (especially in the tip) and it's always fascinating to watch the caterpillars munching their way through them.

The grassland species like meadow browns, gatekeepers and ringlets depend on - no surprise - grass. The grass needs to left long until the end of the season; in my orchard I leave it until the fruit is ready to be picked. I strimmed it down under my plum tree a couple of weeks ago and under the apple trees today. I'll leave the rest of it until the end of autumn as there's quite a few wild flowers in there too - flowering at the moment is ragwort, tufted vetch, field bindweed and knapweed. And since I've been leaving the grass long I've noted two new species here - the large skipper and small copper.

So there you go - habitat for bees and butterflies: a tip, nettles and long grass. Hardly surprising that urban allotments are so rich in wildlife.

Cinnabar moth caterpillar on ragwort.

Small tortoiseshell caterpillars on stinging nettle.

Small copper.

Saturday, 27 July 2013


Phew what a scorcher. It ain't half hot mum. Etc, etc. Plenty to eat from the plot as per - peas and French beans, cabbages and kale, tomatoes, strawberries and raspberries, rocket, carrots and new potatoes...I've posted dozens of pics of these in previous years but in case you've forgotten what they look like here's a couple more:

 Some peas

A cabbage patch

Hottest summer for a long time. So many butterflies on my plot today - battalions of whites, 100+ gatekeepers, 50+ tortoiseshells - so it's just as well there's plenty of nectar for them: my buddleia is only just coming out so the tortoiseshells have been favouring the scabious and the perennial wallflower whilst the gatekeepers have mainly been going for the marjoram and the whites have been monopolising the verbena bonariensis.

 Small tortoiseshell on cultivated field scabious...

 ...underwing view... many to choose from!

Gatekeeper on marjoram...

...and a large white on verbena bonariensis.

More plants for pollinators

If you've been paying the slightest attention you'll know I've been expanding my collection of plants for bees and butterflies - and if this is becoming an obsession then so be it! So here just for bragging rights is a list of the goodies flowering this month:

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)
Aster frikartii "Monch"
Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii)
Catmint (Nepeta mussini)
Cerinthe major
Cleome serrulata "Solo"
Coreopsis verticillata
Cosmos sulphureus "Ladybird Mixed"
Crimson Clover (Trifolium incarnatum)
Cupid's Dart (Catananche)
Echinacea purpurea
English Marigolds
Evening Primrose (Oenothera fructicosa)
Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis)
Golden Marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria "Sauce Hollandaise")
Helianthus "Lemon Queen"
Helichrysum monstrosum "Eternity"
Knautia macedonica "Red Knight"
Nicotiana mutabilis "Marshmallow"
Ox-eye Daisy
Perennial Wallflower "Bowle's Mauve" (Erysimum)
Phacelia tanacetifolia "Lisette"
Rose Campion (Lychnis coronaria)
Sainfoin (Onobrychis vicifolia)
Scabiosa "Beaujolais Bonnets"
Scabiosa caucasia "Perfect Blue"
Scabious "Tall Double Mixed"
Snapdragon (Antirrhinum)
Sweet Marjoram (Origanum marjorana)
Sweet William "Messenger" (Dianthus barbatus)
Verbena bonariensis
Veronica "Good Blue"
White clover (Trifolium repens)
Wild Basil (Clinopodium vulgare)

Ok here's the candy:

Scabious "Beaujolais Bonnets"

Verbena bonariensis

Cosmos sulphureus "Ladybird Mixed"

Erysimum "Bowle's Mauve"

Anthemis tinctoria "Sauce Hollandaise"

Echinacea purpurea

Field Scabious