Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Bee Magnets

 The garden is just buzzing today. Some bees have latched onto the new Buddleja globosa as if they are trying to eat them like marshmallows

A surprise to me was the attraction of the Stachys byzantina for this bee.

But top attraction for weeks now has been Cotoneaster horizontalis.

Allium Purple Sensation has an undeniable appeal for the bees as well as the human eye.

Just as the foxglove which is a more conventional source of attraction.

Also in contention for novel source of nectar is another allium, Nectaroscordium. (The name is a giveaway)

Even more common or garden plants like sage put on an enticing display just now.

Also in the herb patch is humble allium chives 

And still to come into full flower Pyrocantha.  Those bees won't know which way to fly first!

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Wild Wild Flowers

Here's the current state of play  in the wildflower meadow:

Yellow is still the order of the day, but these are mostly  buttercups now instead of dandelions.

There is some white too with the cow parsley

White clover

And white, so called 'sea campion'

The oxeye daisies, red campion and sorrel deserve a mention too.

And then there are the beneficiaries for whom the garden has been created.  Happily they are much in evidence.


Monday, 7 June 2021

Here Comes The Summer


Broad beans flowering, runner beans planted, salads setting off.
Brassicas putting on a spurt, onions and carrots on the go.

It won't be long before the garlic is ready for harvesting.  The potatoes have been mounded.

One crop currently in full flower: blackberries. The bees are loving it.

The blueberries flowered earlier but are fruiting up nicely.  

After a cold miserable spring we seem to have flipped to a hot dry summer at the end of May. Whoopee!

Monday, 24 May 2021

Here Come the Cucurbits


Another rainy day dissuades me from visiting the allotment.  Instead I am tending to the plants at home waiting for their invasion of the allotment.  OK these courgettes, squashes, pumpkins and cucumbers don't look quite so alien when they are in the greenhouse under natural light.

There are plenty seedlings awaiting improved weather.  You might spot the tomatoes which are having a temporary excursion out of the greenhouse, and there are runner beans and peas too.  I have plenty of spare alliums and a whole host of lobelia just needing to be found a final spot.

Also there are some later brassica seedlings.  More than enough to fill the garden, allotment and school garden!

It is a relief to get to the direct sowing.  Soon I will have to reconfigure the greenhouse for the tomatoes and cucumbers.

Sunday, 23 May 2021

Allotment Tour May

It is raining again today, but yesterday was a surprise sunny day.  I took the opportunity to take some snaps of the allotment.  First, appropriately, the potato patch.

The shaws are appearing above ground and very soon it will be time to mound them.
Beyond the potatoes is the fruit cage.  The first of the three bays was strawberries.  Notoriously these have to be moved around in order to avoid build up of disease.  So currently this bay is garlic,  Elephant to the left, ordinary to the right.  In between are two rows of parsnips which are indistinguishable from the germinating weeds currently.  But believe me they are there!

The remainder of the fruit cage is more conventionally raspberries and a mixture of currants and berries:

Reaching the turn at the end I am most pleasantly surprised by these autumn planted red onion sets.  I had given them up for lost but come the new year they have reappeared and are thriving.

Also at that end are spring planted onion sets (tent to the left ) Carrots (temple to the right) and leeks between them.  Next  is onions and shallots from seed (I went a bit mad on alliums this year) and the start of the brassica patch in front of that in the picture below.

Working back to the start I have covered the ground, temporarily with weed suppressant fabric.  This is going to be the the other half of the brassica patch and the legume/cucurbit patch which currently only has broad beans and a row of peas on the go along with some salads.  The runner bean poles are up in readiness but the runner beans are only now germinating back at home.

Broad beans (under netting)

For the sake of completeness here is the last section with strawberries and blueberries to the left, rhubarb to the right and asparagus bed featured in my last post in the middle.

So there you have it.  Together with the seedling nursery at home this is my vegetable home!  Hope you enjoyed the tour.

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Grubs Up


I don't often feature cooked food from the allotment but in this case I didn't think to take a photo before cooking it. 

Asparagus has been a long standing aspiration. 

My first attempt sunk without trace. Foolishly I repeated the error by buying "autumn planted" hands for a second time.  From 18 plants I got three that survived their first winter.  In a way I was lucky because it was one of each variety.  I expected them to be killed by the cold last winter so these pickings are a bonus. My insurance last year was to grow some Connivers Collosal from seeds myself.  Sadly these remained miniscule and only 4 have made it through the winter on site.  Meanwhile one of the older plants has started producing harvestable shoots, the first home grown asparagus.  As a result I am not (yet) abandoning the whole project.  

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

April Flowers

Chrysosplenium oppositifolium

Regular visitors will have detected a renewed interest in wildflowers/weeds.  This year I am trying to be a bit more systematic so will probably do a monthly update on my wildflower sightings.  I have decided to use  Michael Scott's  Scottish Wild Flowers Mini Guide as a target checklist.  It lists the 300 most likely wildflowers to be encountered in Scotland. (This was prompted by reading Peter Marren's book Chasing The Ghost" where he tries to track down the last 50 specimens from his childhood botany book.) 

My first April flower is Opposite-Leaved Golden Saxifrage  (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium) found on a wet bankside in Hulne Park, Alnwick.  It is small but dramatic.  Currently having its moment it seems the "flower" is perhaps not a flower but brighter coloured leaves.  I am not going to worry about that.

A common characteristic of many summer plants in the carrot family is the white umbrella.  The first sighting of one of these compound umbels has put me in a tizz because now I have to brush up the the subtle distinctions between these confusable relatives.  Is this Cow Parsley, Sweet Cicely, Hogweed or the dreaded Hemlock?

Cow Parsley -Anthriscus sylvestre

I am going for the first option, although my plant identification app mistakenly suggests it could be hemlock.  

Into the woods for the aptly named Wood Sorrel flower is less of a give away than the characteristic triangular leaves that fold back like origami. Its proper name Oxalis acetosella indicates its  sourness. It is said to make an excellent rennet for cheesemaking.

Wood Sorrel - Oxalis acetosella

The hedgerow is the commonplace to find White Deadnettle, Lamium album which has only recently started flowering.

White Deadnettle, Lamium album

This obvious brassica is growing in crack between the pavement and a wall on a busy Edinburgh roundabout. It matches Winter-cress,  Barbarea vulgaris.  Related to, but not actually a wallflower!
Winter-cress - Barbarea vulgaris

This Pulmenaria officianalis or Lungwort does not appear in the book or the Scottish Wildflower website, which surprises me.  It appears halfway along the country lane we regularly walk along 

Lungwort - Pulmonaria officianalis

Nearby this butterfly had alighted on this dandelion flower.  They have erupted everywhere lately, (Including the wildflower meadow alongside the school.)

Dandelion - Taraxacum officianale

Dog violet - Viola riviniana

Pink Purslane - Claytonia sibirica 

This plant has a flower very similar to Wood Sorrel which it grows nearby.  It is an import from North America "around 1838" but is widely distributed across Scotland.  

In the shade of our nearby woods a native but thuggish resident is Dog's Mercury.  It is poisonous to dogs. It also threatens along with the ivy to take over whole areas.  The flower is not very dramatic, but out now. 

Dog's  Mercury - Mercurialis perennis

A much more recent naturalised import is "Yellow Archangel"  This escaped from gardens first recorded in the wild in the 1980s and now found in deep shade in our local wood.

Lamiastrum galeobdolon ssp Argentatum

By the end of April I have accounted for about 30 of my 300 target plants.  This could be a long haul.  Although many more plants start blooming in successive months from May through to July. I don't expect to finish  this year but to arrive at a shortlist of targets for next year, 2022.