Tag Archives: native

Bee hunter

lilybeehusk

The Regale lilies are always popular with honey bees as the big scented flowers produce copious nectar and pollen.  This bee wasn't being busy, and on closer inspection it was clearly dead, a dry husk of a bee.  Just visible is it's assassin, a specialist predator of pollinators, the Crab Spider, Misumena vatia. The females lurk in flower heads to catch visiting pollinators and though only pea-sized will easily tackle prey as big as a bumblebee.  Preferring white or yellow flowers, they change colour to match their chosen bloom perfectly.  They don't only wait passively for prey to arrive though but garland the flowers with web trip lines too - around the back of the flower the spider was busy doing just that.

misumenavatia

hungry teasels

teasel1

Teasels are getting ready to flower, the soft, green buds are getting larger everyday. A shower of rain has filled the cups formed by the leaf bases. Already collecting is a fine collection of teasel-cup crud, and now small insects will drown in these pools. As their tiny bodies rot, the nutrients released will give the teasel a boost - teasels with cups full of prey produce many more quality seeds than 'un-fed' individuals.

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Field Poppy

fieldpoppy

From a dumpy bag of dirt, reclaimed from deconstruction work, this tissue-petalled beauty has arisen.  We did not sow it. Since the garden was created in 1984 and the first plants here were grown, seeds have been gathering in the soil, to bide their time and wait for the chance to burst into life.  Some species, like this Field Poppy, we may not see for years at a time.  Only able to grow on disturbed ground, they spring up to mark where we've been working.  In a few short weeks it will be dead, but it will have invested in the future by then, for soon the poppy's pepper-pot heads will be scattering seeds by the thousand, to top up the seed bank for the years to come. 

Weeds? Herb Robert

robertplant

Perched atop our brick pile is this healthy group of Herb Robert, Geranium robertianum, covered in a confetti of small pink flowers, busy with bees and pretty as anything. Rooted into little more than woodlouse poop, it shows just how tough and adaptable this native annual is. Growing in sun, shade, damp or dry, it will spring up wherever it can get a foothold. Ferociously fecund, each plant will produce countless seeds, flinging them far and wide.  For some it's a frustrating weed. Here, in the main, it gently jostles for space, moving round the garden as it constantly claims new ground - lots get tugged out and fed to the compost heap. Annual it may be but it is a perennial presence in the garden - just as well we like it so much.

robertflower

Maximising investments

raygold1

From the Hardy Plant Society's rare plant sale, held in Highgate last weekend, we picked up this pot of yellow-leaf form Red Campion, Silene dioica 'Ray's Gold', a nice plant for a very nice price - specialist plant sales are usually good for a bargain. However, opportunity was knocking. This one pot produced this collection of seedlings and divisions. Potted up to grow on, they'll be ready to plant out in a month or so. Not bad value from a £2 investment.

raygold2