Monday, 18 June 2018

My wildlife allotment in early June 2018

It is now nearly a month since my last post, summer is always very busy and there is hardly any time for sitting in front of a computer. But I always find at least some time to take photos so you can see the progress.
I am quite pleased with the allotment this year, many of my plantings are looking quite beautiful now, most plants are growing well and flowers are opening everywhere nearly on a daily basis. Turn your back for a few days and you might miss something!
I have also grown a lot of plants from seed last year, planted them over winter and now seeing them flower for the first time is exhilarating. I even have some plants I forgot to label properly when pricking them out of the seed tray so I have to wait now until they flower to see what they are.

We had a lot of dry weather recently, the last proper rain was a few weeks ago. Summers here in the Thames valley seem to be getting dryer now with long periods without any rain. I have tried to adapt with planting more drought-resistant perennials. Most ornamental grasses are quite good for dry soil and many plants from steppe and prairie areas are suitable as well. I only really water the vegetables and newly planted things. Everything else has to survive on its own which saves me a lot of work.

Below are some pictures from the  allotment.

Alliums and grasses (Nasella tenuissima)
Rambler rose `Albertine` looks magnificent this year
Maltese cross (Lychnis chalcedonica)
Grecian foxglove (Digitalis lanata) growing together with yellow Achillea and other perennials
The smaller of my two wildflower meadows on the allotment
The larger meadow with ox-eye daisy, bird`s-foot trefoil and red clover flowering
Ox-eye daisy and Briza media
Fox-an-cups (Pilosella aurantiaca) with meadow buttercup and red clover in the meadow
The larger wildflower meadow
Dropwort (Filipendula vulgaris)has pretty flowers
Early bumblebee visiting the Knautia arvensis flowers
Common carder bees like the meadow cranesbill flowers
The caterpillar-like flowers of Sanguisorba menzisii
The allotment at the beginning of June
Sisyrinchium striatum is a bit invasive but has pretty flowers
Arnica chamissonis is growing well
Allium cernuum, grown from seed, is flowering for the first time this year
Leafcutter bee (Megachile) is visiting fox-and-cups
Aster tongolensis and Dianthus deltoides
Euphorbia coralloides looks pretty, adding a soft yellow colour to the plantings
Euphorbia coralloides and Dianthus deltoides
The oldest part of the allotment, now fully planted up with no space left
Echium russicum, a perennial viper`s bugloss
Eryngium giganteum flowers
More Eryngium giganteum in a sea of Nasella tenuissima
Meadow cranesbill (with Dianthus barbatus in the background)
Pretty yellow Aquilegia with Tanacetum parthenium
Dianthus carthusianorum with fox-tail barley (Hordeum jubatum)
Eryngium giganteum
Garden bumblebee drinking nectar from Anchusa azurea

Naturalistic planting with lots of grasses and perennials
Californian poppy and Armeria pseudameria
Digitalis lutea, a pretty shortlived perennial foxglove
Digitalis lanata
Lots of flowers and grasses (with Trifolium rubrum in the foreground on the left)
Tassel flower (Emilia javanica), a new annual for me which has very pretty flowers

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

My wildlife allotment in May 2018

It is already the end of May now, how time flies, especially if you have a lot to do. I am out and about now a lot for work, driving to field sites and surveying for pollinators. But I still find enough time at the weekends to keep on top of the allotments and to enjoy all the flowers opening at the moment. With the sunshine and warmth everything is growing very fast, turn around for too long and you have missed something.
I had a bit of a scary time last week as the 6 C forecast for Thursday night changed gradually to 1 C! And I had already planted some tomatoes, beans, courgettes and half-hardy flowers out as they had grown too large for the greenhouse. My partner had to rush to the allotment with a rucksack full of bed sheets to cover everything too tender to survive a cold night unprotected. Luckily all plants have survived, but the tomatoes have a bit of frost damage on the outer  leaves. Nothing really bad. Everything else seemed to be completely fine. So next year I might wait a bit longer before I plant out the tomatoes.

Another problem at the moment is the lack of rain. In early spring we had so much rain I was begging for it to stop and slugs had a good time eating all the fresh new shoots. Now we have no rain at all, just sunshine every day and no end in sight. This means watering. I am now at a point where I only water the most essential plants, which means seedlings and newly planted things and plants in pots, everything else has just to put up with it. Luckily there is still some moisture left in the ground. At least all the slug-damaged plants have grown back strongly now.

Below you can see some pictures from the allotment, taken last weekend.

White Camassias flowering in the wildflower meadow
My small wildflower meadow near the compost area, looking quite pretty now
Poached-egg plant self-sows on the allotment, but is never a nuisance
The allotment with yellow Geums and Alliums on the right
Allium "Purple Sensation" with white campion (Silene latifolia)
A frog (there is another one to the right) hiding at the side of my little pond
Alliums are everywhere, providing splashes of colour
Allium "Purple Sensation"
Chives with white Camassia and the wildflower meadow in the background
Purple mullein (Verbascum phoeniceum) looking pretty in the wildflower meadow
The larger wildflower meadow with small burnet and germander speedwell flowering
Dark-leaved pretty Polemonium yezoense flowering
Anemone multifida is opening its delicate flowers in the new steppe planting
Helenium hoopesii has managed to escape the slugs and is finally flowering
Alliums look nice with ornamental grasses, here Stipa tenuissima
Pretty great masterwort (Astrantia major)
Cirsium rivulare with Stipa gigantea
Little heartsease flowers (Viola tricolor), self-sowing nicely on the allotment

Let`s hope we get some rain soon, but at the moment everything is still looking good.

My wildlife allotment in early June 2018

It is now nearly a month since my last post, summer is always very busy and there is hardly any time for sitting in front of a computer. But...

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