The Buzz Word is….

Bees, naturally. I saw my first bumble bee 10 days ago in the nursery garden, about the time we were potting on plants. It got me thinking about plants for bees and how it’s easy to take it for granted that flowers will set seed. Of course, if there were no bees ….. well, pollination would be confined to the wind pollinated plants e.g. most grasses, the ant pollinated plants e.g. cyclamen and those pollinated by humming birds. We haven’t got any native humming birds here at Harrell’s, as you might guess, so there would be quite a poor harvest of seed and of the fruit and veg. we like to grow for our own tables.

An excellent bee plant is Trifolium – or clover- the scourge of every dedicated lawn-grower. We don’t grow the low form, Trifolium repens, but the two taller ones, Trifolium ochroleucom and Trifolium rubens. The first is a creamy white and flowers in late May through to June; the second is a reddy-pink and flowers from June to early July. Both make a clump about 24-30 inches tall.

When we take them to plant sales, I’ve been known to remove clinging bees from their flowers before I can load them into my car!

Another plant that I have found to be very bee-friendly is the Salvia family. The shrubby, mostly hardy, microphylla  type are extremely long-flowering, staring in early June and finishing in the first hard frost, which last year, gave me (and the bees) nearly six months worth of flowers!

They will need a favourable spot in your garden, sunny, well-drained and/or sheltered. Mine live in a raised bed against my house wall – south-facing; and another lot live in gravel-enriched(!) soil on the south-facing side of my greenhouse, where I have dug their root ball slightly under the greenhouse walls to keep them drier.

At the nursery our Salvia live on the Berm and have survived there for the last three years with a cloche over the ones I know need a dry winter – Salvia guaranatica for one.

Finally, another buzz started in my garden last Wednesday – my male frogs singing (bass or baritone) to lure the lady frogs to mate. Spawn count at the time of going to press? 8


Full Up! – the result of Mid-Winter Blues

This is the time of year when all my chickens come home to roost…… or more correctly when all the plants I’ve ordered during the above mentioned mid-winter blues start arriving,  all  needing a place to live. I find myself pacing my (tiny) garden muttering to myself trying to decide where  I can put them. All the space I thought I had in December & January now seems to have green shoots of emerging perennials or bulbs & the avalanche of new plants just keeps on arriving!

Firstly my Dahlias, from, I’ve been so restrained & only ordered two, “American Dawn” a stunning mixture of coral , apricot & purple, & “Blue Boy” a lovely lavender blue. These will join my  impulse buys locally of another Dahlia “Creme de Cassis” & Begonia “Splendide Apricot” which caught my eye in a moment of weakness.

The end of last week brought an e-mail from saying that my order was being dispatched this week   … a Hakoneckloa  “Naomi”. I’ve been looking for this, a lovely purple tinged version of the stunning shade grass, for a while, also a real treat, a dwarf Rudbeckia I saw at the Eden Project last year & instantly coveted.

Later on next week will be  sending my order, a Deschampsia “Northern Lights”,  and a Liriope  “Silver Dragon” seen & desired on a trip to the US three056 years ago & a perennial for shade that I’ve not heard of before, Leucosceptrum japonica “Golden Angel” .How exciting is that, a really new- to- me plant!

You might think that by now I’d have learnt my lesson but no four daylilies will be on their way from Belgium in April! I came across & again could not resist!

Fortunately in all these temptations I am joined by my sister who orders her fair share of plants ( & in some cases more than me… but she does have a much larger garden) then the cost of the postage is halved  a win -win situation.

Right, now back to the drawing board  …. I wonder if I squeezed up that plant I could shoe-horn another in????


I was going to blog a miserable whinging blog about how cold & dull it was & how fed up I was with winter  blah blah ,then this morning………. SUN ,   warm(ish) temperature & I got out in the garden! Then the postie came bringing my “in the green” Aconites & a letter from America containing some daylily seeds  and  I’ve just ordered myself  some daylily plants from eurodaylilys in Belgium ( this is one below “Blue Grass Music”)     hooray !!


What a difference a day makes.!!