From the Allotment

 

Our allotment gardener has sent some more pictures from her patch.  And an intriguing bunch they are…

 

1  Strawberries vs Leafcutter Bees

It looks as though the strawberries (the sweet little wild alpine type) aren’t too bothered by the bees’ depredations.  Isn’t it marvellous how the bees manage those perfect geometrical circles?  Even when I was at school, I could barely do that with a compass and protractor….

Our gardener has a bee hotel, with quite a few of the holes now filled with discs of strawberry leaf and, hopefully, bee larvae.

Nat's leaf cutter bee strawberries A

 

2  Digitalis ‘John Innes Tetra’

This is a lovely little foxglove, a real shorty and a real sweetie, not nearly as well known as it ought to be.

It’s a hy­brid be­tween D. lanata and D. gran­di­flora. Bred in the 1920s at the John Innes Hor­ti­cul­tural In­sti­tute in Sur­rey – later the John Innes Cen­tre in Nor­wich, and the people who invented the recipes for John Innes composts, among many other things – it has glossy, spear-shaped leaves and 2ft-tall spires of orange-yel­low flowers.  Unusually for a hybrid, it comes very true from seed.

I have a certain parental investment in this plant because it, and its friends out of shot, were grown from seed from my own plants.  I’m assured that they’re all doing very well…

Nat's Digitalis John Innes Tetra A

 

3  Tomatoes ‘Sweet Million’, with marigolds

The weather has been murder for plants like tomatoes – stifling hot and then freezing cold.  But these look to have shrugged all that off, and are now loving the current warm and humid conditions.  Our gardener, naturally, is waiting with bated breath for the first bite…

Nat's tomatoes Sweet Million with marigolds A

 

Thanks for sharing!

What I fail to understand is…

 

Why?  I mean, WHY??

Let me explain.

When I decided to have a Yin/Yang bed in the back lawn, I thought that, for the first year, it would be a good idea, in terms of weed aggravation, to fill it with annuals.  Still, I’ve kept it watered and fallow since the winter, taken a bucketful of bindweed roots out of it, and a fair few brambles.  Weed growth has been almost non-existent, apart from that.  Until Wednesday, when the recent rains have sung their siren song.  Both halves looked like the green baize on one of the snooker tables at the Crucible Theatre during the World Championships.

So, out came the swoe (rather like a sharpened golf club), and, hey presto, all neat again.  Until this morning.  When we’re back to baize.

That is not what I fail to understand, though.  That’s just background.

No, it’s my lupins.  My little Avalune annual lupins.  Here’s a picture of them, from the Thompson and Morgan catalogue, where I got them, so I hope they won’t mind me filching their picture…

Jo's TM Avalune lupins mixed A

 

They are annuals, they flower in the first year, they only grow to about 16 inches, and I grew them from said seed.

They have stood on the path that runs up past the greenhouse since the end of April.  Here they are, with their friends, on 6 May:

Jo's seedlings A

 

If you stand where I stood to take the photograph, and step 6 paces to the right, you will fall into my Yin/Yang bed.

Everything grew well, and was untroubled by any of the local wildlife, except for the odd slug that nibbled a leaf on the Nicotiana suaveolens.  You see, I learnt from the rabbit eating the rosebushes (and foxgloves) episode.  Leave them close to where you’re going to plant them and see what happens.  Nothing happened.

Here’s what I fail to understand.  Why, if these young plants stood unharmed for a couple of months about six feet from where they were to be planted, why, oh why, when they were planted the weekend before last did I find them this Thursday morning, like this:

Jo's Avalune Lupins A

 

All of them.  There’s nothing left but stalks.

And at tea time, a large rabbit was nonchalantly hopping from the area of the greenhouse to plant its front paws in the new bed and investigate the possibility of a little snack.  There was nearly violence.  I’m not sure the back door will ever be the same again.

I think Beatrice Potter’s Mrs McGregor had exactly the right idea…

Okay, rant over.  I’m off for a cup of hot chocolate and a gin and rhubarb biscuit…

Exotic

 

As I write, there is an exotic monsoon taking place outside.  It’s often said that the typical English summer is three fine days and a thunderstorm.  This year has had many, many fine days, although precious few in the actual summer, but the thunderstorms – or at least, the cloudbursts – are making up for lost time.  It’s midnight, so I’m not going out to see whether anything needs staking, but it’s going to be a rainforest in the morning.

But that isn’t what today’s post is for.

Among the images sent to me by our group members is one that stands by itself, and is very exotic and summery.

It’s a hibiscus in a garden in Panama.

I know no more than that, but let’s just admire it, because it deserves it.

Pauline Hibiscus in a garden in Panama A

 

Lovely!

A Garden View

I have some images from one of our gardeners to post today – I’m keeping a couple back for the Nature Table tomorrow, so you know where to direct some of the blame!  :~))

Roses are doing very well this year, and here’s David Austin’s English Rose ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ AGM.

 

Rob's Gertrude Jekyll A

It was released in 1986, and has twice been voted the nation’s favourite rose, as well as winning other awards.  Even though Austin increases production of this rose every year, it sells out every year.

Gertrude Jekyll was a famous garden designer and author who has had a profound effect on the present day style of English gardens.  She designed over 400 gardens in the UK, in Europe and in the USA.

The rose has the quintessential old rose fragrance.  It’s a climber, but if pruned back, can be kept to a vigorous large shrub.

 

Rob's seedlings A

Here among the golden flowers of Creeping Jenny, our gardener has allowed aquilegia and foxgloves to self seed.  That’s going to be a lovely colourful patch next year!

Thanks for sharing!

Felley Priory

 

One of our gardeners has just been on a visit to Felley Priory, and sent me a lot of images.  This is the first tranche, but we’ll be visiting it again!

It’s a lovely place, and the pictures speak for themselves.

 

The Lake

Glynis's Felley Priory 6 A

 

The Rose Garden

Glynis's Felley Priory 9 A

 

The Rose Garden

Glynis's Felley Priory 10 A

 

The Roe Garden

Glynis's Felley Priory 11 A

 

One of the Herbaceous Borders

Glynis's Felley Priory 13 A

 

The House

Glynis's Felley Priory 16 A

 

Wonderful!  Thanks for sharing.

A Garden View

I’m a little later than usual today – when I tried to do this post last night, all I could get was the whirlpool of doom.  So, internet problems, then – maybe some one was having one of the big thunderstorms that we’re in the middle of.  A whole army of them are forecast to come stalking across the country this afternoon.

As well as watering parched gardens, thunderstorms create fertilizer for free.  The atmosphere is 78% nitrogen, but the molecule is so tightly bonded together that it is unusable by either plants or animals.  Each bolt of lightning has enough electrical energy to break those bonds in a process called nitrogen fixation, creating a plant-usable form.

Once the molecular bonds are broken, the nitrogen atoms quickly combine with oxygen to create nitrogen dioxide.  This dissolves into the water droplets about to come down as rain, becoming nitric acid, and then forming nitrates, which plants can absorb.  The nitrates seep into the soil in the rainwater as free nitrogenous fertiliser.

How much is produced?  I have a figure from sciencedirect.com, but it’s entirely meaningless to me.  Here it is any way:

It is estimated that a flash of lightning produced 4 × 1026 molecules of NOx, with an uncertainty of from one-fourth to twice that amount.

Sounds like enough to be worthwhile…

One of our gardeners has sent me images from her garden.  Here they are – and looking lovely, too.

 

Oriental poppy with campanula

Glynis's Garden 1 A

 

These chocolatey, cinnamony foxgloves have become very popular, partly because they’re different, and partly because they carry a promise of more permanence than our native Digitalis purpurea.  I don’t know which one this is, but I wonder whether it’s D. ‘Spice Islands’?  And it’s backed by a lovely flowering dogwood.

Glynis's garden 2 A

 

One of the increasing range of rich red and deep pink astrantias.

Glynis's garden 3 A

 

One of the lovely Brunneras – ‘Jack Frost’, perhaps, although I know this gardener has a few different varieties.

Glynis's garden 4 A

 

Lysimachia ‘Firecracker’

Glynis's garden 5

 

Thanks for sharing!

 

Weirdly Beautiful

 

One of our members has sent me this picture, taken while out walking in The Ancient Forest, Melton.

Pauline's fungi A

 

My first thought was Parasol Mushrooms, which grow in mixed woodland, especially if there are conifers.  But, I can’t find any images of Parasol mushrooms being so… frilly and amoeboid.

So, I don’t know, but they are definitely weirdly beautiful!  And huge!

If anyone can cast any light, please do.