I just managed to go up the hill to see the last of the foxgloves this week in between all the rain we have been having. I was surprised to also see signs of the Bell Heather in flower which seems a little premature to me. Maybe this cold spell is tricking the wild flowers into thinking that autumn is on its way. It certainly seems like it!
Folklore: Originally the plant was referred to as folksglove, which was a reference to fairies because of the plants grow in woodland. The ‘glove’ part of their name was simply due to the flowers looking like glove fingers.
On a trip down to the Lizard peninsula last Saturday (before the horrid rain and wind re-appeared) I discovered a whole lot of Geranium sanguineum, (common names bloody crane’s-bill or bloody geranium) that I didn’t see last year. These lovely vivid magenta-pink flowers with palmately-lobed leaves are so much nicer than the Herb Robert and Shining Cranesbill that colonise my garden. Though I do have some of these growing in my gravel garden that were bought from a nursery.
“Oh, do not frown,
Upon this crown
Of green pinks and blue geranium”
– Louisa May Alcott, “Dear Grif”
This week I am going to give you a week of bees. Or hoverflies. Though the bees have definitely outnumbered them this year. Planting bee friendly plants has drawn them into the garden, but the most bees I have seen on any one plant (Giant Scabious / Cephalaria gigantea ) was in Trelissick Gardens on Sunday. They were swarming with bees – three or four to a flower.
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Hedge Woundwort (Stachys sylvatica) and a very fuzzy bee in my garden.
Hedge Woundwort is a tall, hairy perennial that grows in hedges, woods and on waste ground, where its tall spires of crimson-purple flowers stand out among the lushness of green growth of other plants. The flowers are arranged in whorls around the central stem. They are hooded, with the lower lip beautifully variegated with white against the crimson background. Bees love this plant and are frequent visitors. I love how he clings on to the lower lip with his two-toed feet (yes really, take a look) and then buries his proboscis into the hood.
Myosotis sylvatica (Wood Forget-me-not)
This pretty spring-flowering plant scatters its seeds all over the sunny side of my garden. Despite pulling up dozens of plants each autumn come the spring and it is everywhere. I love the azure blue flowers with the white or yellow centres and the pinkish buds of the clusters of five-petalled flowers. The Wood Forget-me-not is also an excellent source of nectar and pollen for all kinds of insects including bumblebees and butterflies.
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Daucus carota / Wild Carrot
Also known as Queen Anne’s lace this is a dainty, frothy wildflower. Unlike cultivated carrots, the wild carrot’s root is tough and stringy and not particularly palatable. Wild carrot can be often be found growing on grassland, cliffs, roadsides and in hedge banks.
Wild carrot flowers in the summer (June to August). However, being an umbellifer, its skeletal frame often adds a stark beauty to the winter landscape.