Six on Saturday: 24.7.21

It is now the school holiday. It’s been a lovely year at the nursery and I’ve been lucky to work with lots of groups of amazing kids. We’ve got lots of gardening plans for next year at work so will be nice to get cracking on that.

Discount climbers

Tesco’s has obviously been worried about the heatwave as they reduced all plants by 25%. I picked up a pile of climbers for my work project and some for me. Honeysuckle and passionflowers for the shaded woodland border. Then a clematis for my garden.

Geranium rozanne

I know this is a very popular geranium as it is reliable but I’m not really that bothered by it. The colours are not that exciting. Most of the hardy geraniums have been given a hard prune to the ground. They’ll grow and flower several times a year treated this way. Rozanne is still flowering well though. The bees like it at least.

Love in a mist

A house around the corner was selling pots for 50p. 50p well spent. I love the strange flowers and the seed pods that follow.

Echinops ritro

Butterflies have made the news the last few weeks. The wet spring and start to summer has meant numbers are down. So I’m trying to make sure they have some decent flowers available when they are in flight. This is a short globe thistle that should be good for bees and butterflies. They like a sunny position with free-draining soil. Mine is improved clay but this should mean it is fairly drought tolerant and shouldn’t need much watering. Possibly none once established.

Eryngium planum

Sea holly was part of our wedding flowers and I’ve got a few patches around. I’ve added this one as it’s a nice tall one to add some height mid borders. As with the globe thistles, they are good for wildlife and drought tolerant. Mine have returned each year but not seed seeded. I think with my clay soil they don’t self seed as readily as other soils. But we’ll see if this year is any different.

Small tortoiseshell

I have started to see a few more butterflies but we have rain forecast for the next week which badly affects butterflies’ ability to fly. So it’s going to be more important than ever to provide for the butterflies during the periods they can fly. Here is one on the hydrangea.

Today we have Alice’s ballet lesson before a break for summer, followed by a kids party. I’m going to be carrying on with clearing a bit more of the forest school this week for the woodland border. Then begin planning the allotment and sensory garden areas. Hope you all enjoy the weekend.

Six on Saturday: 17.7.21

So this week has seen a good increase in the Covid numbers across my area. As the government is announcing “Freedom!” Braveheart style we are getting told to carry on with Covid business as usual. More reason to avoid people and stay in the garden. Sounds like a plan. This weeks six sees a few jobs, a disappointment, and more orange than I’d consider my garden to have. I have no issue with orange, but it isn’t a colour that comes to mind. But this week we have two bright and bold orange blooms.

  1. Seed sowing

This week I have sown a few different things. I have a few trays of foxgloves on the go. I think it was Alba and foxy mixed. The foxgloves are great this year and they will probably self-seed but I’d like a few on the go to make sure I have some to place where I want them. Then I’ve gone with 2 trays of primula candelabra. These can be more erratic to germinate according to the pack so we’ll see if I end up with any. I loved the mass plantings at RHS Harlow Carr and I think I could emulate this in my woodland border at work which I will get onto next. Despite checking on them several times a day there still hasn’t been any germination but fingers crossed.

2. The woodland border

Within the forest school at work there is a little corner near the bird hide that has been undeveloped for a while. I’ve had a request for a flower border to attract insects. I wasn’t planning to start this for a little while as I don’t want to be having to water in the plants over the summer holiday but I’ve just ended up with a mass amount of Iris foetidissma that needed to go in the ground quickly. This is what the area looked like Monday morning.

I’ve cleared back a good bit of ground. It’ll need doing a few times I imagine as I won’t have got all the roots out and they’ll be more things seeded in the ground I probably don’t want but I got the irises in. I threw in a few of my more aggressive hardy geranium ‘Wargrave pink’ as it can roam free out of the pace and be kept in check by children trampling it as it goes out of the desired area. Then a few Alchemilla molis amongst the irises. I don’t know that these will take but it has the seeds on which should drop and then more will grow. Iris Foetidissima is one of our two native irises. The other being the yellow flag iris. It grows well in shade and can handle dry conditions which is needed for a plant that may be left for the six weeks holiday. The flowers are not as exciting as many irises but it has bright red berries that are quite attractive and the leaves are evergreen keeping some structure over winter. I’ve got a few plants later from local donations and my own divisions. We’ve got a few hardy geraniums and hostas, then a few tiny hellebore seedlings I’ll need to nurse a while longer. I do have a budget but I’m trying to get what I can from people locally. Ideally, I’d like some astrantias and Japanese anemones. If anyone local has divisions they’d be appreciated. Plants that will thrive in the shade and be good for wildlife. There is also the added dimension of not wanting plants that flower in the school holidays, so spring and autumn flowering plants are good. Then looking for maybe one or two decent shade shrubs that are good for wildlife. We have a lot of ivy around the forest school so I may go with something more ornamental but wildlife friendly on this fence.

3. Hydrangea runaway bride

This is one of the disappointments this week. This was awarded the Chelsea flower of the year a few years back and a few other awards. It flowers more than other hydrangeas. You get flowers along the stems rather than just the end of branches. They should be a stunning plant from the descriptions and photos. I bought two to use in window boxes outside the front door the year before last. One died and the other has struggled on. It has suffered from chlorosis, yellowing of leaves. It doesn’t flower that well. My suspicion is this is down to being in too deep shade in the front garden more than nutrient deficiency. So I may move it to another spot and see if it picks up. Hydrangeas normally cope with shade well but this doesn’t seem happy. I don’t know if all the breeding gone into it has created something that is just weak. Time will tell. I will move and report back. The couple of flowers it has are nice but the growth is too spindly and the flowers are too few to recommend it over other more established hydrangea cultivars.

4. Everlasting sweet peas

This is a perennial sweet pea that comes through the fence from our neighbours. It adds a bit of colour against the wall each year. The neighbours are moving soon so hopefully, the new neighbour will keep it in so I can benefit.

5. Nasturtium

I think this is a self-seeded one as the ones I planted have been dairy maid that is a pasty yellow I don’t actually like that much and a deeper red one. They both probably came free with magazines and will have been given to Alice to scatter. This orange is much nicer than either and is welcome to self-seed more similar offspring.

6. Pontellia William Rollinson

This was one of Alice’s choices last year. It’s not really my taste being a bit too fluffy and low on wildlife benefit but the color is vibrant. The stem structure isn’t great with a lot of flopping on the ground meaning the flowers aren’t that visible. It doesn’t really cover any ground either so the area around it has been bad for becoming weed-infested. Hopefully, it will improve with age. When the flowers are aimed the right way they are quite striking and adding to my generally clashing border with pink hydrangeas behind. The front garden has color coordination. The back garden doesn’t as I selected more on personal whims and wildlife benefit whereas there was a plan drawn out for the front. They both look good in their own way.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s six. Hoping to get a few more seeds sown today and I’ve a few plants to pot on but we’ll have to see if I manage it. The foxgloves in the border are almost over so I’ll be collecting some of the seed and allowing some to fall soon. I have a few gardening books to read through as I plan for more around the nurseries gardening project. Looking at how to create meadows currently. The designated spot has quite rich soil so going to need to deplete the nutrients if they want a meadow. Hope you all have a good weekend. Stay safe with the predicted heatwave.

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Six on Saturday: 10.7.21

This week I have a poorly daughter. Her voice is just about gone and she is very sniffly. She’s in need of lots of cuddles. The garden, however, is in pretty good health. I have spotted vine weevils again. I have done a dose of nematodes recently to try and tackle them with more natural methods and squished the two I’ve found. But the plants they affect seem to still be growing strong. So hopefully keeping them in check currently.

Rose-Peter Pan

I bought this bare root last year as a reward for my first RHS exam results. It is a patio rose described as somewhere between a minature and a floribunda. If you look back at the starting point you can see it’s put on a good amount of growth in one year.

It is covered in small dark red flowers. I still haven’t got my sense of small back fully after covid but this is described as only having light scent. It is more of a visual feast.

And the obligatory raindrops on roses.

Astrantia Alba

I’ve discussed my love of astrantia before. They have pretty flowers, loved by bees, particularly honey bees and they flower over a long period. There is lots to like about them. This patch in the front garden has settled in well and has put on a lot of growth. The front garden is shaded with quite heavy clay soil which is a fairly goo situation for astrantia. They like moisture-retentive, humus-rich soil. They can be grown in sun if kept watered but I think are best for shade. This one is particulalry nice as the white flowers show better in shade. You can also see some of the foxgloves. They’ve been pretty crazy this year reaching great heights and flopping all over the place. We’ve had people knocking on the door to compliment them. I’m just getting started on sowing some more for next year as I haven’t had them self seed reliably.

And a bee enjoying the astrantia. There has rarely been a moment they have not had something visiting this week. Even with the heavy rain this week the foxgloves and astrantia have still seen plenty of bees. A testamant to how even a small front garden can be used to help wildlife.

Flesh fly/Allium forelock

I featured the allium last week but I took this photo on my phone and I was impressed with this little fy with its stylish black and white chequered patterning.

Agapanthus

I have been growing agapanthus for a few years now. They were bought as bare root stock and I knew it would take a little while for them to bulk out enough for a decent display. The last few years I’ve just had a single blue flower. There are two varieties in the pots polar ice and queen of the ocean. This year is looking more hopeful for seeing both varieties finally.

Scabiosa butterfly blue

We went to the garden centre last week to get some potting compost and I was taken in by this plant. Scabiosa are great for insects and the display was covered in butterflies. I couldn’t resist. We have lots of flowers that are great for bees but not as much for butterflies. So far, in my garden, it has only been visited by the bees that I’ve seen but the butterflies will come. With dead heading it should carry on producing flowers for a while. I’ve put it in a pot near the house as it likes free draining soil and I thought it would show better there than in the border.

Wall poppy

This is a self seeded poppy finding a home in the crack in the wall. But even a little flower like this is still helping the bees.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s six. I’m taking a lot of pleasure from the garden currently. There is a lot to enjoy and even the jobs of seed sowing and weeding have been pleasant. So far this week the “weeds” have included a dog rose I’ve potted up and a holly. Hope you are enjoying your gardens currently and have wonderful weekends.

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Six on Saturday: 3.7.21

So we move onto a new month and I can see a shift into summer now. More of the summer flowers are coming into flower now I’ve cleared the spring forget-me-nots. The roses are hitting their peaks. The foxgloves are towering high. Lots to enjoy. Having got another round of RHS exams out the way I’ve had lots of enthusiasm for getting out in the garden and I’ve got on with a good bit of maintenance work this week.

Charles DeMills

This is an old rose I planted a few years ago as I wanted the added disease resistance that comes with many old roses. They don’t generally repeat flower but they put on a single decent show and are usually strongly scented. It has however failed to flower all that well previous years as it has suffered from rose balling. The petals have got wet from rain and then they fail to open. This year it is up to a size where it has managed a decent display of flowers. They apparently smell wonderful but I haven’t got my smell back fully since Covid. They open up to form a flat flower head and it opens up to a more ruffled afair. Then it starts to disentegrate and needs dead heading.

While I have managed to achieve more flowers from it, it is still a fairly shapeless shrub with little to recommend it the rest of the year. It may not stay. As I go on in gardening the more I agree with Christopher Lloyd that rose worship should be abandoned to treat them like any other shrub. The odd one is nice but not in every garden.

Cornflowers

I bought a cheap little pollinator planter from Tesco’s. So far it has mainly been a pretty mix of different coloured cornflowers. I haven’t actually seen any pollinators on them. But they’ve got a lot of other choices in the garden to pick from.

They may still prove useful for the birds though. Previous years the goldfinches have enjoyed the seeds. The blue ones are probably the standout colours. The pinks are pretty enough but a bit washed out for my taste.

Allium christophii

These are a reliable favourite allium. They have large rounded heads. Also known as star of Persia. You can see form the structure why. The bees love them and so do I. Never enough alliums.

Allium forelock

I think these were forelock which I planted last autumn. These are a new addition to the garden. They have however grown to about 2m. They are taller than me which places them twice the height on the pack. But I don’t have anything else that quite looks like this so I think they must be forelock. They open to form the round ball leaving the white tufts sticking upwards.

Allium nigrum

These are a favourite allium of mine. I like the white heads. They form a half dome and work best in combination with other plants. The contrast making the other plants shine out.

Petunia-constelation

We went to a table top slae last week. There were plant sales outside. I didn’t purchase any but Alice wanted this one. I don’t really bother with this sort of annual plant but Alice wanted it and it’s pretty enough. It has gone in a hanging pot on the log store.

I grew these last year while I was working as a grower at the garden centre. They are a popular choice. The speckles are interesting and they stand out well.

We’ve got a fairly quiet weekend ahead so hopefully have a good bit of time to get on with catching up on garden jobs. I’m also enjoying a bit of garden reading. I’m dipping in and out of “the flower yard” by Arthur Parkinson. He gardens in pots. It’s had a few useful tips but it’s not really my way of gardening. I like a spread of flowers through the year to have maximum impact for wildlife whereas Arthus gets a wow factor for spring and summer. The sort of gardening of emptying pots, annuals is heavy on environmental impact with a lot fo compost getting used as well as using annuals and bulbs that have to be replaced fairly regularly. But the pot combinations he comes up with are very pleasing. An instagram gardener. Apart from anything I’ve shifted more out of the pots to save the time watering as the pots require that extra time watering more regularly than plants in my clay soil. Anyway, hope you enjoy your weekends whatever you are up to.

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Six on Saturday: 36.6.21 RHS Harlow Carr

Last Monday I had my next round of RHS exams. I think the soil module went well. I may have managed a commendation, not so sure about plant health. I think I passed but not sure of what level. But I had less interest in learning about chemical controls I have no intention of using. On the way to my exam, I stopped off for a quick visit to RHS Harlow Carr. It’s the first time I’ve visited. I want to try and make use of my student RHS membership while I get it cheap. Sadly most of the gardens are open for RHS members on workdays so I rarely get to take advantage. The weather was good, cloudy but warm. Nice for walking around a garden. Not ideal for photos but I got some wildlife shots I’m quite proud of. My six are going to go beyond six photos into six categories because there were far more than six things to enjoy.

Wildlife

The gardens are providing for a rich and diverse variety of wildlife. I saw a good number of birds species, bees and butterflies. The combinations of stream, woodland, meadows and wildlife friendly plants provides a good range of habitats for wildlife. My wife is teaching more photography next year and I’ve been taking some pointers and it’s paying off.

A small tortoiseshell in the scent garden.

A blue tit near the bird hide. There were a lot of bird feeders around though most were empty. I think they are still probably getting by on lower staff numbers with Covid. The bird hide feeders were stocked and swamped by squirrels with a few birds venturing on.

A crow and ferns. I like corvids. They are beautiful birds in their satorical eleagance. Combined with ferns for a nice background.

Squirells were hovering up food all other the place.

Irises

I love an iris and right now there many at their best. Harlow Carr had a great numbe of beauties.

Iris robusta gerald darby

Iris chysographes. A stunning dark beauty.

The alpine house

I’ve never been that interested in alpines and rockeries. I grow a few but as I have put much my effort into my shaded front garden with thick clay they don’t have much place there. But it was interesting to see and alpine house. None of the local gardens we visit regularly have one so it made a change.

It was interesting seeing how some are planted in a roughly natural setup spreading through the rocks while others are contained in their pot.

And an orchid.

Meadows

A lot of the outer areas had been left to go to meadow which was being visited by a few different insects even on a fairly grey day.

One of our native orchids.

The stream

The stream runs down the middle of the garden and had some of the most concentrated planting. This was very much to my taste. Lots of lush foliage with punctuations of flowers. The visitor boards explained how they are climate proofing the gardens by planting suitable plants and making use of the water and drainage.

The primula candelabra are what I will probably remember the garden for. These had been used in big blocks along a lot of the border. At the end of my visit I intended to buy some but I didn’t see any for sale. But it’s probably for the best as they worked so well here as they had been planted in large blocks, not just one or two.

The meconopsis were also looking grand, but I know their reputation for being awkward to grow to even consider spending the time on.

The inevitable purchases

Obviously, it was unavoidable that some plants would come home with me. The plants were largely at the silly price you would expect from an RHS garden. In some cases 3 times what I think I’d pay locally but there was some perennials at a reasonable price. I went with two salvias. Hot lips which I know many people dislike as there are now better lips on the market. But it is popular with bees and nice spilling out at the edge of a border. If they had amethyst lips I would probably have gone for that, but not available. I also went with one I know nothing about Salvia greggi mirage cherry red that looks to be a good vibrant red. This looks be a nice in your face colour. Then as the irises had been one of the stand out plants I went with iris Benton deirdre. This was a Cedric Morris bred iris with white petals with maroon feathery edging. It looks to be quite dramatic. The last purchase was a cheaper one on the way home from a toilet stop-off. I got a primula vialli. This was instead of the candelabras I had seen at Harlow Carr. This will fit better amongst my existing plants though I could probably do with another pot or two. But it will gradually spread.

I hope you have enjoyed my Harlow Carr visit and I make no apologies for featuring more than six photos. There are still lots more I could show off.

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Six on Saturday: 19.6.21

So, I have my next 2 RHS exams on Monday, so I will be preparing for soil exam and pests and diseases so it’s going to be a quick one this week.

  1. Dutch iris

A bit of a strange colour combination on this one but I rather like it.

2. Dutch Iris

This is the more standard colour. They are scattered along the border. Between a few different varieties of irises I now get to enjoy them through more of the seasons.

3. Pyracantha orange glow

The pyracantha is flowering well. I only added this recently so it’s still rooting. The seagulls pulled it out a few times so I’m glad to see it flowering. Hopefully lots of berries for the birds to enjoy.

4. Climbing rose Scarlet Paul

This rose is now well established and the training has gone well as we now have flowers all along a good section of fence. Not bad for £2 supermarket climber.

5. Poppy Black Swan

I’ve grown these from seed from Sarah Raven. I fancied something different as I just have the one form of poppy that seems to return each year that is a large dark poppy with smooth edges so I thought these would be a nice addition alongside.

6. Forget-me-not clearing

The forget-me-nots are going to seed so it’s time to scatter a few so they return and clear to make room for other plants coming through. There will be many more wheelbarrows to go. Just doing a few each day.

So that’s it for this week. Back to studying. I need a bit more of a focus on weeds and making sure I’ve got the Latin names in my head. Wish me luck!

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Six on Saturday: 12.6.21

The garden is shooting onwards after a thunderstorm earlier in the week followed by lots of sun. Far more than six beauties to pick currently but this week’s six will feature a mixture of jobs and flowers and wildlife sightings.

The yellow rose

This rose came with the garden. It flowers reliably and is fairly trouble free. Nice dark yellow blooms fading to buttery yellow.

Nematodes

The hostas have been getting nibbled. I’ve started my nighttime patrols with my snips and my torch but also given the plants a dose of nematodes. The nematodes are a natural way of killing off the slugs and keeping the numbers down.

Frogs

Luckily there are also lots of frogs around. This one looked to have swallowed a full snail.

Aquilegias

These are growing madly this year. They self seed around and then I usually pull most out allowing just a few to come through. My genetic gene pool is largely creating murky pink ones but the bees love them so a few can stay.

The hanging pot

The sunnier weather has led to this shooting off and creating lots more flowers. A rather pretty shade of dark and light pink.

Bearded iris

This has been my favourite bloom this week. It was a cheap Wilco’s purchase. It’s taken till it’s 2nd year to bloom but it’s an absolute beauty.

Thank you for reading. Looking to be a hot weekend. The forget-me-not clear and shake process has started. This is always nice as one they are cleared away I discover lots of hidden plants coming through in the mass of faded blue.

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Six on Saturday: 5.6.21 hodge podge edition

This week’s six is coming from a few different gardens as it’s been half term and we’ve kept busy. I am taking part in the Wildlife Trust’s 30 days wild, though I am not blogging about it daily this year as it is quite time consuming and I have a lot coming up this month.

Wassand Hall

We made it to Wassand Hall on the bank holiday Monday. Wassand is probably our closest garden to visit. It’s just out of town with a short woodland walk and a small walled garden but they pack a lot in. They had set up a trail of small animal doors for kids to find on the woodland walk. Alice got a bag of sweeties at the cafe for her efforts so she was happy. We enjoyed a courgette cake and a bakewell slice. The gardens were at an odd inbetween season with some bits going over and other bits on the way. It’ll look great in a month or so. The hothouse is filled with amazing cannas and banana trees so the exotic section will be looking good again. The current star of the show was the irises. I picked up a few cheap from their plant sales and a couple of hardy geraniums.

Deer

We then walked out from the garden towards the mere. Were were tret to the sight of 2 deer running off to the long grass and managed a quick snap. I see them quite often locally but this is the closest photo I’ve managed yet.

White butterfly

Returning to my own garden we’ve had some sunshine this week bringing out the insects. Here we have the forget-me-nots being enjoyed. They’ve probably got another week or two until I pull them out and scatter the seed again. Amy’s teaching more photography next year so we’ve both been practising our skills more this week.

Damselfly

The damselflies have started to make their first appearances of the year in our garden. Hopefully the dragonflies will follow soon.

Alliums

We visited my parents later in the week. The alliums are doing well and a good few bees coming out to play. I rather like the contrast on this photo.

Robin

And the birds weren’t too bothered by us being there.

I have my first jab this afternoon so hopefully still have the use of my arm afterwards as got a few jobs to get done tomorrow before the return to work. Hope you are all keeping well.

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Six on Saturday: 22.5.21 front garden update

So it’s been a busy day today. Unusually I’ve been at work today. We’ve had an open day to allow families in to see the nursery. Just one at a time with Covid restrictions. It’s been nice to have them visit as many parents haven’t been able to come in ever. A chance to see where their kids spend a large part of their time. Then I’ve been busy with a bee activity set with Alice from Catkin and Co. We made a sandwich wrap and candles. Strangely satisfying. So it’s a later six this week. Coming in and out of the house it has been nice to see how much the front garden has progressed. From starting it afresh over a year ago it has established well.

The front garden

The basic concept of the front garden was to create something that would be fairly low maintenance by using lots of ground cover. I wanted more of a focus on foliage than flowers. The garden is North facing, shaded by the house, thick clay and is exposed to strong sea winds. So, on the face of it not the best conditions. But, I think I’ve found a lot of plants that are the right plants in the right place. The brick spires are looking good. The foxgloves have shot up the last few weeks with lots of rain. The ferns and hostas are returning well. Alice refers to it as the jungle as a lot of it is now as big as she is. Eventually it should fill out to that point where you have to push through the foliage to get around the stepping stones.

Lamprocapnos spectablis ‘Alba’ Bleeding heart

This was a little bare root purchase from Wilcos the year before last. It is a bit lost behind a foxglove but it is poking through nicely.

Leucojum vernum

This was a spurr of the moment purchase. It doesn’t quite suit the garden conditions. Ideally I think it likes full sun. But it seems happy enough so far. I took the chance as I thought it would be nice to extend the snowdrop season.

Allium ursinum-wild garlic

Allium ursinum has a bad reputation for spreading badly. I’ve taken the risk as it’s quite a short plant and I don’t mind it acting as an understory plant and spreading around the gaps. Much of what I’ve growing is larger and will drown them out so they can fill the odd space left. I like it hough. The flowers are pretty. They are edible if I want to harvest them and they add another food source for pollinators.

Hostas

Many of the hostas were bought cheap from a local church sale. These are looking very nice currently. They all seem to be coming back strong currently. The beer traps and frogs seem to be keeping the slugs in check currently but I could probably do with applying some nematodes. One of the reasons for growing the wild garlic was a vague theory that it might put the slugs and snails off chewing the hostas. People spray hostas with garlic spray so surely surrounding them with the scent of garlic plants should have a similar effect.

The view from above

I like taking photos from above on a regular basis as it shows areas that are working well, which areas aren’t, which plants are complementing each other and which are not. Currently the foxgloves are dominating a lot of areas but these are making nice spires as a contrast to the spreading hostas. The ferns are producing the wonderful bright new fronds. The heuchera are providing a few pockets of contrasting foliage. All in all I’m happy with how it is developing. The Ilex creanata hedge along the edge is growing painfully slow but hopefully it is rooting in well and will get going.

I’m glad I made the decision 2 years ago to overhaul the front garden. It is much nicer returning to this than the weedy gravel. We see a lot of people stopping to admire and they often stop to talk and compliment it if I am out working on it. I’ve got to know more of the people on the street through my front garden than I would otherwise know. Hope you’ve enjoyed this brief snapshot.

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Six on Saturday: 15.5.21 bee week

This week with Alice we’ve been looking at bees with a bee themed play tray. So I thought for this week I’d take a look at some of our measures to help the bees. Educating Alice about the world around her feels like the best way to encourage her to grow up to care and respect all that we find in our world.

The play tray consisted of a tinker set from tots of fun. Then the large bee peg dolls I painted. The bee hive was a special purchase having sold off a few magic tricks I made a while back. She’s come up with some lovely stories over the week with it and enjoyed the open ended play taking it in different directions each day.

We got some wildflower seed with the tots of fun set and some bee bombs from Rowse honey. Alice helped plant them in her bee pot now her tulips have gone over. Didn’t really look at exactly what was in the mix but hopefully something will come up.

For my birthday I spent part of my birthday money on a Mason Bee tube. Mason bees are one of our more common solitary bees that are easy to help. These tubes are great. I wanted one that was easy to replace tubes as they are used and a set up easy to clean. Many marketed bee hotels are too short with tubes too wide or too narrow. Sometimes plastic encouraging damp. Basically most sold at garden centres to people with good intentions are rubbish encouraging disease and parasites. So I decided I just want one decent one rather than several that potentially harm the bees. They benefit from some maintenance each year which you can find on the mason bee website.

I also bought the new Dave Goulson book gardening for bumble bees. The garden jungle covered this subject briefly but good to know more. Dave’s books are easy to read but filled with research based facts. I like his focus on positive steps people can do to help wildlife. Looking forward to reading this one.

Within the garden we grew lots for wildlife. As a general rule less cultivated single flowers are better for pollinators. I provide a variety of open flowers and tubular flowers as different insects favour different flowers. This geranium phaeum has been very popular with the smaller garden bumble bees the last few weeks. It flowers well. Then I prune it back to the ground and usually manage 3 sometimes 4 bursts of flowers over a year.

The forget-me-nots are out in abundance currently. I let them spread all over the border. These are favoured by the honey bees. Here photographed by my wife. These self seed all over and then over plants come up through. Many of the alliums are coming through which are also great for bees. The single dahlias are very popular with both bees and butterflies. Planning for different flowers through the year keeps an interesting variety of visitors coming into the garden.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this brief look at bees. It’s Alice’s birthday tomorrow. She’ll be 5 years old and very excited. So lots to get on with. Enjoy your weekends.

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