August already! And for this week’s six a slight deviation. Instead of my garden, I thought I’d share some of the lovely native flowers along our bog road, which is a small track just at the end of our own drive.
- First one of my favourite late summer flowers – perennial sowthistles. It has been described to me as an Irish sunflower and it certainly fits that description well, as they can be over 1m tall.
2. Mint, Mentha aquatica – one of my favourite smells
3. Next Purple-loosestrife, while native to Ireland this plant has become an invasive species in North America.
4. Greater willowherb , while it can take over does have a pretty flower.
5. Woundwort, as it’s names suggest was used as a herbal medicine to treat wounds. It is thought to have wound healing and antiseptic qualities.
6. And finally common knapweed, a late flowering summer plant loved by bees . Like woundwort it was also use medicinally to treat wounds, bruises, sores, and sore throats.
Thank you to The Propagator for hosting Six on Saturday.
Nature has some wonderful delicate colours. Below the delicate pink of Shining Cranesbill, Geranium lucidum.
Next, collection of daisy, speedwell and pignut flowers
And here the speedwell in more detail.
And finally the delicate green and whites of cow parsley.
This week’s Lens-artist photo challenge is to look at cropping photographs. I do crop images pretty regularly.
Here are some examples – mostly I just like cropping some of the “noise” from the image, so I can focus on the subject a little more.
Here the cropped images just makes the subjects a little larger, and easier to see.
All around our garden wildlflowers make their home and they are welcome with open arms.
Here tufted vetch. One of the earliest vetches to flower and loved by bees especially Common carder bees.
Secondly globe marigold. I transferred a bit of a plant to our pond many years ago where it grows. Though it is in the nearby drains where it flourishes. It’s bright yellow petals are just like mini suns.
Thirdly lesser celendine with violets; for me the colour combination is just perfect. Violets along with primroses are my favourite spring flowers.
Fourthly the humble buttercup. While the creeping buttercup is a bit of a nuisance as a “weed” in the vegetable patch you cannot but enjoy the bright yellow flowers.
Next bluebells. Yes they are already in flower. I collected seed from a woodland not too far away and have waited five patient years for these seeds to grow enough to produce flowers. It was worth the wait.
And finally dandelions – many of which are now seed heads. But these are loved by bullfinches, goldfinches and chaffinches.
Spring just around the corner (I hope). So it is time to start planning the garden. And with a new UK scientific paper out telling us that allotments and gardens supported the highest bee and hoverfly abundances, our own gardens are a great place to start helping our local pollinator populations.
If this is something you like doing I thought I could provide you with a list of Pollinator Friendly Plants. This list is based solely on what works in my garden. The garden is situated in Co Mayo, Ireland. We have relatively mild climate but we do get frosts, and they can occur anything from late September till May. We have both native wildflower areas and cultivated areas with flowers and also a vegetable plot.
Best Garden Flowers and Herbs
Delphiniums – the bigger bumblebees, like garden bumblebees love these.
Lupins – a number of different bumblebees will use them and I have also seen honey bees try (but I don’t think they were successful).
Russian Comfrey – these plants are always full of bumblebees. Carders, early bumbles, love it. A number of hoverflies also feed on it especially Rhingia campestris. Another great positive about this species is it keep on flowering once it starts.
Poppies – I have pink, opium poppies that self seed in the vegetable plot. It appears to be a magnet for honey bees but white tailed bumbles and early bumblebees will use it to.
Snapdragon – again a favourite for carder bee.
Nasturtiums – these self seed in my vegetable plot. Again they will be used by a variety of bees.
Sage – a wonderful herb that is always buzzing in my garden. Appears to be particular favourite of common carder bees.
Oregano – grows both in the greenhouse and outside. The one in the greenhouse is always full of white tailed bumbles, the outside ones less so. The plant is probably happier and producing more nectar in the warmer greenhouse.
Calendula – hoverflies love this flower.
Fennel flowers – another favourite for hoverflies.
Borage – another great all rounder for bumblebees and honeybees.
Native Flowers and plants
Foxgloves – again suit the larger bees like garden bumblebees.
Ragged robin – this plant does well near the pond seems a particular favourite of green veined white butterfly.
Dandelion – a brilliant early pollen source.
Ox-eyed daisy – hoverflies and butterflies will both use this.
Willow – I have both native and cultivated willows. The catkins are really important for bumblebees queens emerging from hibernation early in the spring.
Fruit blossom – Again I have native and cultivated forms. Hoverflies seem to love blossom, but bumblebees and butterflies will feed on them to.
Interestingly in the scientific paper just published a number of these plants have also proved popular in the UK. The following nine native plants were found to have significantly more pollinator visitors than expected based on their abundance – Creeping thistle, Wood avens, Common hogweed, Cat’s ear, Ox-eye daisy, Creeping buttercup, bramble/blackberry, Autumn hawkbit and Dandelion. And the non-native top five were: Borage, Butterfly bush, Common marigold (Calendula), Lavender and Comfrey.
Katherine C. R. Baldock, Mark A. Goddard, Damien M. Hicks, William E. Kunin, Nadine Mitschunas, Helen Morse, Lynne M. Osgathorpe, Simon G. Potts, Kirsty M. Robertson, Anna V. Scott, Phillip P. A. Staniczenko, Graham N. Stone, Ian P. Vaughan & Jane Memmott
Nature Ecology & Evolution (2019) |
Harebells, Campanula rotundifolia, are one of my favourite summer flowers. What is not to like – a beautiful blue colour and shaped like bells. I have cultivated forms of Campanula in my garden but nothing beats this native one. The native ones are found on dry grasslands and dunes. These ones were growing on a dry sand/soil bank adjacent to some machair (a specialised, rare and sandy habitat formed from windblown calcareous sands) near Belmullet, Co Mayo.
Our late spring has jumped to mid summer and we seem to have missed a whole month, as temperatures soar to 24 degrees – not really typical for the west of Ireland, where we’d be happy with temperatures in the high teens. Everyone is afraid to complain about the heat in case the rain comes back! We Irish have a funny relationship with the weather.
Still, my June garden is blooming. Lupins are proving very popular with the bees and other, perhaps not so welcome, creatures! Though with the heat the flowers seem to be going over quickly.
The blue irises have put on a great show – much better than last year. And seem popular with hoverflies and the larger bumblebees like Garden Bumbles.
My favourite areas are the new wildflower meadow and also around the pond, where ragged robin adds it’s glorious pink. Butterflies enjoy the blooms, while hoverflies, are keen on the ox-eyed daisies.
Foxgloves, aquilegia and geraniums are dotted elsewhere. Certainly June adds colour!
Today, Sunday, 27th August makes the end of Ireland’s 2017 Heritage Week. Thank you to all those that attended the three events I was involved in over the last nine days. Yesterday, we enjoyed our pollinator walk along the River Glore. While Carder bees were plentiful other bees were very scare. But we did see lots of peacock butterflies, one speckled wood and one red admiral.
Lots of us got up close and personal with some great minibeast at the Country Life Museum, at our biodiversity event and the children all went home with some flower seeds potted up to help our pollinators next year.
Last weekend we saw plenty of wild flowers along the banks of the River Moy at the Riverfest.
This post was my own little homage to the Heritage week. It is a great way to get people out and about exploring their own local heritage, be it nature, built heritage, geology, what ever it is. While I look forward to doing it again in 2018, it is important that we all continue to get out and explore the wonderful heritage Ireland has to offer. One thing you can do is Make a Pledge for Nature. The Heritage Council is asking each of us to make a small pledge to help nature in our gardens, or communities.