Friday, 25 May 2018

Garden goodies

Twice recently I have been out recording wildlife and on both occasions I have forgotten to take my camera. To exacerbate the problem I lost my phone and therefore couldn't use its camera facility. (The phone has turned up at the Errol Flynn Cinema in Northampton and there awaits my collection.) In consequence my blogs have temporarily dried up.
Lots of country walking has led me to neglect our garden, at least in the photographic sense, but today I got around to checking it over - once the rain had ceased.
The petals of our Pasque Flowers, Pulsatilla vulgaris, a species native to Northants, have long since withered and gone but these plants have a second phase of beauty. The styles become elongated and feathery, forming a globular seed head, allowing seeds to be distributed by the wind. Around the garden are lots of seedlings from last year's flowers and I am able to give them away to friends.

The seed heads of pasque flowers are attractive in their own right.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 25 May, 2018
On the subject of seedlings, our Fairy Foxgloves, Erinus alpinus, have seeded so prolifically that their progeny have assumed an almost weed-like status. Pretty though they are I am having to be ruthless in taking out most of them. Although only two or three inches high they really are related to foxgloves.
Mauve Erinus alpinus in our front garden at Stefen Hill,
Daventry. 15 May, 2018

Various forms of thyme have steadily spread over rocks and gravelled areas and are just coming into flower. Thymus vulgaris, T. serpyllum, T. herba-barona and others offer a range of colours and textures. All are lovely.

Aquilegias offer a contrast in height. Stefen Hill, Daventry.
15 May, 2018
Most of the plants in our front garden are low-growing, even ground-hugging, but aquilegias are an exception. Like Pasque Flowers they are members of the buttercup family and one species, Aquilegia vulgaris, is also a Northamptonshire native. The long, nectar-containing spurs point backwards and are hooked like an eagle's bill, probably giving rise to the Latin generic name (Aquila: an eagle).
The flowers merit a closer look and have clearly evolved for long-tongued
insects. Stefen Hill, Daventry. 25 May, 2018
The plants currently in bloom overwhelmingly have lilac, purple or reddish flowers but members of the Stonecrop Family, Crassulaceae, almost invariably have yellow or white flowers. Various species are readily available and one of the plants I grow is the Mongolian Stonecrop Sedum hybridum in its form 'Immergrunchen' - cheerful and easy.
It is apparently from Mongolia but Sedum hybridum is happy in Daventry.
Stefen Hill. 25 May, 2018
Speaking of yellow flowers, I must mention Sophora prostrata. This is an odd member of the Pea Family, Fabaceae, and comes from the South Island of New Zealand. It has a framework of wiry stems with tiny leaves. Not spectacular but certainly unusual.
Not spectacular and not particularly photogenic but Sophora prostrata is
a plant I cherish. Stefen Hill, Daventry. 25 May, 2018
I am not convinced that it is completely hardy so I grow it in a container. Nevertheless it survived some fairly hard frosts this winter so eventually I may plant it in the front garden.



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