A look at the flowers and insects of the Daventry area
Monday, 1 August 2016
The garden in mid summer
When I planned our garden I was determined that the bulk of the planting would be attractive to insects. By and large this has been a success. The rather uncommon Teucrium hircanicum has proved to be a good choice.
Iranian Wood Sage, Teucrium hircanicum. Stefen Hill, Daventry.
31 July, 2016
For a couple of weeks its spires of dusky purple have been attracting bees and a few butterflies too. Hircania (Hyrcania) was a region of ancient Persia, perhaps explaining why the plant is quite drought-tolerant. It is related to our native Wood Sage, Teucrium scordonia, but unlike this species the Iranian Wood Sage will tolerate some lime in the soil. Incidentally Teucrium scordonia was thought to be extinct in Northants but it turned up a few years ago at Harlestone Firs, when a patch of soil was disturbed. As for butterflies, this Gatekeeper, Pyronia tithonus, spent a few minutes refuelling on the sage before moving on.
Gatekeeper. Stefen Hill, Daventry. 31 July, 2016
I admit that the Passion Flower, Passiflora caerulea, was not planted for insects; its role was that of covering a rather ordinary brick garage wall, so when I found that a steady stream of bumble bees was visiting the flowers I was well pleased. This is the pale form, 'Constance Ellott' although I also grow the 'normal' form.
Passion Flower 'Constance Elliott'. Stefen Hill,
Daventry. 31 July, 2016
It is certainly making a good job of cloaking the brickwork so the bees are a bonus. Bumblebees are not my thing but this visitor is, I believe, a queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee, Bombus terrestis.
Bees have been regular visitors. Stefen Hill, Daventry.
31 July, 2016
There are times when insects can be a problem. Against the same brick wall I have planted a couple of pear trees. The fruit is swelling nicely but I may find some netting is needed if wasps become a problem.
Pear 'Concorde', Stefen Hill, Daventry. 31 July, 2016
Then there is the cardoon. Are there any insects visiting the flowers? If I am to find out I'll need to get out the garden steps, for it towers over eight feet high! It grows in an area where, when we moved in, there was a hedge of the dreaded 'Leylandii' (x Cupressocyparis leylandii) and so the soil was probably rather exhausted. I put in a dusting of blood, fish and bone but even so...
Cardoon, Cynara cardunculus, rivalling Jack's Beanstalk! Stefen Hill, Daventry.
1 August, 2016
Two other plants are proving irresistible to bees. One is a small eryngium known as 'Blue Hobbit'. This neat little plant is a dwarf form of Eryngium planum and although I am not a fan of the more usual form this is an excellent addition to the rock garden. Despite being very thistle-like in appearance, it is a member of the Carrot Family, Apiaceae.
Finally a plant about which I have mixed feelings. Marjoram. I grow Origanum vulgare, which makes a neat, cushion-like mound of purple-pink, covered all day by busy bumblebees. This member of the Mint Family, Lamiaceae, is a constant source of interest, so why do I have mixed feelings?
Marjoram, Origanum vulgare, at Stefen Hill, Daventry.
1 August, 2016
When I grew it in my previous garden it became a real nuisance in that seedlings popped up everywhere. I must therefore be vigilant! 'Semper Vigilans' as we were wont to say at Gas Street Secondary Modern. There seems to be some confusion between this species and Origanum majorum - but I do not propose to go into that problem. Next to come into flower: Sedum spectabile.