Talk of the Month
A gentle reminder for those who have not already paid their subscription that it is now due.
What to do in the garden this month
- Feed roses with well-rotted manure or a special rose feed as they come into growth. It’s also a good time to prune roses to encourage strong new growth.
- Dead-head daffodils as the flowers finish and let the foliage die back naturally.
- If any of your garden plants will need supporting this year, put the supports in now so the plants grow up through them. Adding supports afterwards is difficult and often looks unattractive.
- Dead-head hydrangeas before new growth appears. Cut to about one third of last season’s growth.
- Start sowing your bedding plant seeds in the greenhouse ready to plant out after the last frosts.
- Prune overwintered fuchsias back to one or two buds on each shoot.
- Cut dogwoods, willows, cotinus and paulownia right down to the base to promote vigorous new growth.
Did you know?
Wild bees and other pollinators are in decline. But there are things we can do in our gardens to help make our gardens bee-friendly. By planting bee-friendly flowers we get our gardens buzzing and pollinators will also help our plants and ensure our apples, strawberries, tomatoes and other fruit and vegetable crops produce fruit.
Here are the top 8 bee-friendly wildflowers to grow in your garden:
Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)
Perennial bulbs, with stunning blue bell-shaped flowers that have a sweet scent. They look spectacular when grown in groups. Make sure you plant true native British bluebells. They grow well along a hedge or under trees and provide a great early food source for bees. Flowers: May to September.
Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
Tall, hardy biennial with pink trumpet-shaped flowers. Foxgloves tolerate shade well, but flower best in full sun. It freely self-seeds. This classic cottage garden plant is loved by long-tongued bumblebees such as the garden bumblebee (B. hortorum) and the common carder bee (B. pascuorum). Flowers: June to September.
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
A very hardy perennial, and great for the back of an herbaceous border. It prefers damp places but will grow almost anywhere. It has a long flowering period that’s loved by bumblebees, especially species with long tongues. Flowers: May to August.
Clovers (Trifolium species)
In summer, you’ll find red clover (T. pratense) and white clover (T. repens) literally abuzz with the sound of bumblebees. The flowers of red clover are particularly adored by both rare and common bumblebees. Grow clovers in a wild part of your garden or allow them to colonise an area of your lawn! Flowers: May to September (red clover); April to October (white clover).
Greater knapweed (Centaurea scabiosa)
A beautiful thistle-like wildflower. It produces masses of large vibrant purple inflorescences that act as magnets to pollinating insects. Greater knapweed is a common meadow wildflower, but it also looks fabulous among other plants in an herbaceous border. Flowers: July to September.
Hellebore, stinking (Helleborus foetidus)
An unusual looking native evergreen perennial plant. It has light green bell-shaped purple-edged flowers that hang from a thick upright stem. It gets its name from the unpleasant smell of its crushed leaves. Stinking hellebore flowers in late winter so is great for early emerging queen bees. It grows well in shady spots. Flowers: January to May. Stinking hellebore starts flowering in December so it’s useful to bees that emerge from their winter sleep.
Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum)
This native plant is a vigorous climber and a great addition to a wildlife garden. In summer, its highly fragrant, tubular, pink and cream flowers are buzzing with bees and other pollinators. It is a common species in hedgerows and woodland. Train it up a wall, fence or over an obelisk. If you prune honeysuckle hard it thickens up to become an ideal nest and roost site for birds. Flowers: June to September.
Wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa)
An ancient woodland plant and one of the most beautiful wild flowers of early spring. The star-shaped flowers of the wood anemone have six white petals around a green centre with yellow stamens. It tolerates poor soils in both shade and sunlight. Plant it in the shade under trees and shrubs, or out at the front of the border in full sun. Flowers: February to May. An early flowering plant, foraging bees love wood anemone.
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Scents aren’t only in the flowers of plants; many plants produce smells from other areas too. Here are some of the most common scents, that aren’t produced from flowers.
- oranges, lemons and hops have scented oil in the skin of their fruit
- cinnamon, frankincense and myrrh have scent in their bark
- ginger and liquorice come from the root of the plant
- strongly-scented cloves are just unopened flower buds
- nutmeg, mace, mustard, chillies, cardamom, cumin and pepper are simply scented seeds
- mint, sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil and lemon balm have scented leaves, which we often use in cooking
Now that the days are getting longer, it’s time to explore and hunt for the first signs of spring! There are lots of clues on this link:
- Some arums, stapelia and the largest flower in the world – the rafflesia – smell like rotting meat! The reason for this horrible whiff is to attract flies, which carry their pollen to other flowers.
- The most common scent made by plants is lemon. Apart from an actual lemon, you can find this smell in lemon grass, lemon balm, lemon verbena, lemon-scented geranium, lemon gum and lemon thyme as well.
- Some plants need moths to pollinate them. They grow pale flowers whose scent is very strong in the evening and hardly noticeable in the daytime.
- Scents are taken from plants mainly as essential oils, which are then used to make perfume. Some perfumes are a mixture of 50 different smells!
- The ancient Egyptians were the first people to write down information about perfume. They used many perfumes as offerings to their gods. And they also used them to help preserve their mummies. The ancient Egyptians lived between 2,500 and 5,000 years ago.