Thursday, 26 May 2011

Ranunculus repens

Bee Garden

Holly Blue butterfly tucking in

One of my projects this year is to turn the area in front of the bee hives into a wild garden, providing board and lodging to our insect friends and their various associates! The existing herbage is predominantly grasses, clover, docks and Creeping Buttercup (the great plants), who are all going great guns on the heavy, fertile soil which is of course precisely the type of site one should avoid when attempting to develop a wild flower meadow. The Creeping Buttercup was until a week ago my sworn enemy, as it lives up to its name and sneaks around all over the shop no sooner than you turn your back on it. However, now the bally thing has come into flower, looks incredible, and my bees, the treacherous swines, are swooning all over it!

Cornflower plug

One tactic I have been employing to battle with this tricky site is growing wildflowers in plug trays, sowing one or two seeds direct into the module, and then growing the plants on until they have a decent enough root developed for planting. This then gives them at least a sporting chance, and ensures they aren’t immediately swamped by thugs like the blasted Creeping Buttercup! Cornflower seen above is particularly suitable for this method, as the large seeds are easy to sow in a single module and grow on to plug size without the need for potting on. This saves time and compost!

9 comments:

DD said...

Lovely shots as always Bertie!

Beegirl said...

Love your bee garden!! So very lovely! Best to your flowers and your bees...

Cathy and Steve said...

Hi, Bertie,

Love that photo of the butterfly on the buttercup! As you undoubtedly have experienced, buttercups will spread to fill every square inch of gardening space if you let them. I have actually found it necessary to dig channels between plants and lay strips of garden edging in order to keep them confined enough to inter-plant other wildflowers.

Planting plugs is a great idea but I'm concerned that the buttercups may choke them out before too long! You might want to sink a large pot around them to prevent the buttercups from smothering them, That is definitely the experience I've had if what I planted with it wasn't aggressive enough to successfully compete for a piece of prime real estate.

An equally aggressive wanderer that self sows AND spreads by runners is Mondardia, AKA bee balm. You might add a touch of that -- the variety I had was quite tall but it was an absolute bee magnet. Our neighbors have an apiary and their bees visit regularly. Mine was a lovely rosy magenta and a great contrast to the yellow. I also had forget-me-nots in the same area and they all got along well, each managing to hang onto their place in the bed.

Good luck with it -- you're right, the field of yellow IS lovely!

Pam's English Garden said...

Dear Bertie, What an exciting project! The bees would probably enjoy some clover, too. Keep us posted. Pamela

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

I love buttercups and dig them out of my lawn to add to my garden bed. Yours are gorgeous--don't get rid of them, just add to them.

Pauline said...

Your bees are so lucky, what a wonderful picture. Our lawn is white when we don't cut it, with daises, maybe they could do battle with your buttercups.

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello:
How intriguing to have discovered your blog and to learn that you are at Hidcote. For us, as for many, Hidcote remains an absolute inspiration both in terms of original and imaginative planting and, of course, design. For us, it can scarcely be bettered.

For over 25 years we gardened in Herefordshire so Hidcote was always within easy reach. Arriving about 4pm., as most people were leaving, we were then permitted to wander at will leaving by a small gate in the front court at whatever time we wished. Perfect.

We were also interested to read your post on Wollerton. The Jenkins have been dear friends for many years. Now in Budapest we miss them greatly.

Bertie Bainbridge said...

Cathy and Steve - Thanks your sharing your method of edging the buttercup to contain it! This is interesting as it could enable me to keep the blighter available for the bees and yet also include other beneficial, less ‘sprightly’ plants.

Bertie Bainbridge said...

Jane and Lance – How splendid! The garden is a different place after hours when nobody else is around. Wollerton is marvellous; I’m heading off there in July for a work placement!

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