Gardening with Nature on the Edge of the Atlantic

Bees’ Bottoms

My hawthorn trees lost their flowers very early this season, while across the valley they remained in full bloom a week later. I only managed to make one bottle of cordial until the Crataegeus prunifolia suddenly burst into bloom. The resulting cordial is an experiment as I could not find any recipe, but hoped that this was an omission on the part of cordial makers rather than a sign that the flowers were poisonous. The leaves are very different to the common Hawthorn so I did not use them in my distillations to be on the safe side. A week after testing I am still alive so I am assuming that these flowers are as safe to use as the Common Hawthorn.

My rather cloudy cordial which is due to the orange and lemon that I used. The Crataegeus prunifolia (on the left) produces a light pink drink and I think will have a stronger flavour when it matures. Next year I hope to perfect the process.

Most days I meet a fox on my driveway and on one memorable evening I met five young cubs close to my home. I have wondered how they managed as they matured and think that I have a partial answer. My neighbours silage has just been cut and the fields by my house are a magnet for birds and foxes. The first evening I counted five of the latter having a feast. However, unlike previous years four of these foxes interacted with each other and even played together despite the fact that they did not arrive at the same time. They all kept a safe distance from the fifth when it arrived and soon left the area. I am guessing that these may be at least two of the five young cubs and perhaps their parents.

These two foxes did not arrive together but the smaller one appeared quite submissive, so I wonder whether the older fox is its mother. They certainly seemed pleased to see each other.

Two of the foxes enjoying the sun after a playful romp. There was a lot of tail wagging and tumbling when they met.

This little fellow was the only one who remained in the field after feeding. Instead he curled up and went to sleep – with this quality of entertainment who needs a television?

My lower driveway tends to be neglected as it is a distance from the house and there is much to do elsewhere. I planted a successful cutting from my Wigelia last year and then forgot about it. Despite my neglect it is doing very well. It needs to be given a little more space and some attention but for the moment it is a perfect foil to the wildflowers on the tiny, uncut meadow that surrounds it.

This Teucrium has been flowering faithfully for many years now. It is in a sheltered spot in the garden but has some exposure to the winds from the south. It flowers for months on end and is very popular with the bees and other insects.

I always love the anomalies that pop up from time to time in the garden. This Cistus purpureus ‘Alan Fradd’ has produced a number of variations on the usually pristine white flower.

At first, I thought that just one Cistus flower has been affected but as the weeks go on the variations continue.

This year continues to produce surprises throughout the garden. This red Leptospermum usually starts flowering in January but remained dormant this year. It is a rather tender plant and I have lost a few over the years. However, it is so beautiful that I always replace them. This year I had no confidence that it would survive the demanding winter, yet here it is twice as large and now a deep vibrant red that I have not been able to capture properly in this photograph. Its companion Euryops pectinatus on the other hand, has had the reverse of its usual fortunes. A native of South Africa it is supposed to flower from summer to autumn and is a good pollinator. In fact it flowers here from Christmas through the year with just a few breaks to catch a breath. It too was once over six feet high but for some reason reacted very badly to the weather this January. This small shrub is all that it left. I presume that it will recover fully as it is flowering with its usual enthusiasm.

Details of Leptospermum and the Euryops or Bush Daisy.

While some of the flowers in the garden are very showy this Camassia looks both delicate and graceful. It initially has a tiny blue tip to the petals but this disappears as it matures.

I have only once seen a white foxglove in the garden. I did try collecting the seeds but had no luck producing more. As this usually happens when I try to propagate wildflower seeds maybe it is a lesson not to try and interfere with nature too much. This plant started out with a pure white flower which has gradually changed to a light pink as it matures.

These deep purple foxgloves are growing right beside the pink/white anomaly so it will be interesting to see what happens next year.

Sweet Mock Orange blossom – Philadelphus coronarius. I am surprised that this does well here but it showed no adverse effects from the winter or the salt storm.

I am always trying to capture bees feeding in the garden but they move to quickly for me and I end up with a lot of blurred images that could be anything. I am very grateful to my neighbour who gave me this Jerusalem sage as a small plant. It is now coming into its own and is a magnet for bees. As the bee has to stuff its body into the flower, I have had time to get a moderately good photograph. Admittedly it is just the bee’s rear end but maybe this could become a speciality of mine.

2 responses to “Bees’ Bottoms”

  1. Hello Juliana –
    I was delighted to meet you today at the Market.
    These are beautiful photos. Thank you for sharing.

    • Hello June. Thank you very much. It was lovely to see you too.I hhope it wont be so long before the next meeting.

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