This is the south facing area which was a tatty lawn in May last year, we dug it out and the other half got busy with the pine sleepers and paths. I’m particularly pleased with the Digitalis trojana, these plants were grown from seed from an original plant bought from The Botanic Nursery. They have remained in flower for weeks and are just starting to look tired now. Reportedly perennial.
The picture also shows how good some plants are for adding fast height even if you ditch them as slower growers come into their own, including the silver atriplex and Sphaeralcea Newleaze Coral from cuttings taken in Autumn 2013. Some grasses can also give quick height and screening.
Bunium bulbocastanum above from Special Plants Nursery seed sown last year is a neat smallish umbel with mats of leaves from which the flower stalks emerge. Said to be perennial.
Another long-lasting pretty airy umbel this year is Longleaf, Falcaria vulgaris, a biennial rare in the UK I think, the seeds came from France. This is growing in dry semi-shade and seems to be happy.
Pests and diseases
I have a number of umbels growing in the cottagey part of my woodbed. I’ve also planted a few shrubs in this area over the last couple of years, 2 tree peonies, a dogwood and a lespedeza. The dogwood failed and I thought it was because of the conditions (it’s very poor dry soil in which an aster, lungwort and Cyclamen hederifolium seem to thrive). Then suddenly a couple of weeks ago the lespedeza collapsed as did the two peonies this spring. On digging up these plants I diagnosed honey fungus, although I’ve never seen the fruiting bodies (the mushrooms), the roots were black and riddled with white mycelium. Someone had mentioned in passing the previous owners had had trees down because of it but not where. I only hope it’s really just this area that’s heavily affected, we have trees all round us which seem OK.
There are quite a few instances of fasciation this year although I’ve often seen it on Linaria purpurea others affected include Digitalis ferruginea and Veronicastrum.
Along with continuing mole issues i.e. going round and under rootballs and starving plants of water (it’s found its way into the newly re-positioned greenhouse borders. Only baked solid clay is preventing it from getting into the new raised veg beds). I say it, but actually we think there is more than one at work. Plus a rabbit digging in the borders and an occasional deer passes through delicately browsing the roses. One chicken is broody so has protected the eggs from marauding Magpies for the last few weeks – the respite will be over soon.
Owls and other birds
We’ve seen a Barn Owl sweep across the parish field a couple of times over the last few weeks at around 10:30 pm but any Tawny activity is a way away unlike previous years. The Sparrowhawk young are testing themselves as their calls have been more prevalent again the last couple of mornings accompanied by incessant Blackbird alarm calls (the manic screeching peaked in mating season in early April)
Butterflies so far are mainly Meadow Browns and Skippers. Tiger Moths have been quite prevalent, you just catch a fluster of red and black from the corner of your eye. We went looking for glow worms last night by the canal, we counted 8 females with their lamps lit, mainly in the mown grass. Some sites have already recorded up to 80 – Wow!
Picked the first sweet peas of the year a couple of weeks back, I bought a red, white and blue mix in a sale, only the blue Lord Nelson appears to have a scent sadly. The main scent now is Lonicera halliana and Lilium regale with a bit of heliotrope stirred in. The evening scented Zaluzianskya are also just coming into flower along with Brugmansias.
We have a fabulous Philadelphus from Pan Global Plants with the most amazing scent which was in flower a couple of weeks back. It also has small leaves and is pendant in growth so altogether lovely! (We’ve since been up to PGP and Nick Macer tells me he’s now named it Casa Azul (the Blue House) after the Frida Kahlo Museum (as this Mock Orange has Mexican roots).
We’re waiting for rain today but whether it will grace us I don’t know, otherwise I’ll have to continue watering.