40 more plants and growing

Two days ago Richard and myself were kindly allowed to raid his Mum’s garden and we gathered together 40 plants for the project.  The haul was a combination of unwanted plants growing in the wrong place and the offspring of other plants that were set to take over.  You could say it was a fair trade: we helped make some space in the garden and got loads of free mature plants that will be ready to go this autumn.  Win-win.  We need more people to advantage of our garden clearance service!

Plants from Richard’s Mum’s garden.

Anemone hupehensis – a personal favourite of both mine and the bees with large saucer-shaped flowers on tall stems that emerge in late August and continue through until October.      

Aquilegia vulgaris (probably) aka columbine, granny’s bonnets – no cottage garden is complete without this classic plant.  The distinctive, nectar-rich flowers are attractive to bees and other beneficial insects, however many of the commercially available Aquilegia varieties are double-flowered and should be avoided as they contain much reduced levels of nectar.

Bergenia cordifolia, this evergreen stalwart makes excellent ground cover although it likes a bit of shade, so we will most likely be using it for underplanting larger shrubs.  One of the season’s earlier flowerers, emerging in March, Bergenias are attractive to both bees and butterflies.  Their leathery leaves are readily devoured by snails and slugs, which will provide a little extra protein for visiting blackbirds.

Cyclamen hederifolium, ivy-leaved cyclamen, is in flower from September and will hopefully continue right through until November.  We also wish to acquire C. coum, eastern cyclamen, which blooms from December right through until March.  Together these diminutive plants with disproportionately large flowers have a lot to offer insects visiting the garden in late autumn and winter, when nectar and pollen sources are more scarce.  Both species prefer partial shade, so they will be used to create low-growing carpets underneath shrubs. 

Autumn-flowering Cyclamen hederifolium

Digitalis purpurea, foxglove – few things are as idly pleasurable as watching a bee disappear right inside the trumpet-shaped foxglove flower in search of food.  Pollination is primarily carried out by a single bee species: Bombus hortorum, the garden bumble bee, which comes equipped with an especially long tongue for the job.     

A shrubby Hypericum, although I am not entirely sure which one as yet.   The hoverflies found it almost immediately, so that is an emphatic yes!


A hoverfly visiting one of the distinctive flowers of a Hypericum spp.

Primula veris, cowslip –  one of Britain’s classic wild flowers and closely related to the more widely-known primrose found growing along woodland edges and in damp soils.  The cowslip favours sunny sites and a well drained soil, making it much more suited to a rooftop habitat

Sanguisorba minor, salad burnet –  a generously self-seeding plant with edible, although not to my tastebuds, evergreen leaves and small flowers that are visited by bees and butterflies.

Veronica gentianoides or possibly V. spicata – hopefully it will turn out to be the latter as it is attractive to butterflies.  I will soon know as the former is said to be evergreen.

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