Bring in the butterflies & other wondrous wildlifeJuly 13, 2016
Summer is the most common time to see brilliant butterflies fluttering about in the garden, in search of the valuable nectar they need to feed on for energy. Summer colour (and indeed year-round colour) can be combined with a butterfly haven, using simple, open flower blooms that the butterflies love. Nectar-rich plants are in abundance, with hundreds to choose from to suit virtually any site or soil, and therefore almost every single garden out there! …All gardens can be ‘fuelling stations’ for our garden friends, from butterflies to bees, moths to other valuable insects.
A snapshot of ‘top picks’ for butterflies for the late (July-September season):
Buddleja davidii varieties
Sedums (spectabile and telephinium varieties)
Choosing a range of plants with different flowering periods will ensure that there is something in bloom for the butterflies to feast on in spring, summer and autumn however. A number of species hibernate and will require ‘fuel’ after re-waking in the spring… and months later will require a stockpile of ‘fuel’ to see them through hibernation in the winter.
While flowers are important to feed adult butterflies, suitable sites are also needed for them to lay their eggs and feed their caterpillars. A good ‘wildlife friendly’ garden should be able to cater for the complete ‘circle of life’ and the butterfly at every stage of theirs.
See our ‘Bee & Butterfly Friendly’ leaflet for more information and ideas about what to plant to attract wildlife into your garden.
General advice for attracting wildlife into the garden:
Provide a water source – From a simple birdbath to a garden pond, introducing a source of fresh water to your garden will act as a magnet for all sorts of species. Even a puddle could provide a useful resource for wildlife friends!
Food – Nectar is essential for many insects such as butterflies, moths and bees. Plant flowers that have simple single structures, which means the nectar is easily available to insects. Masses of single flowers are better than few double blooms. Wildflowers also offer a great source of food – they did evolve with the wildlife after all
Shelter – A patch of nettles, a log pile, a hedge, all provide a form of shelter to various forms of wildlife. If your garden is lacking, it is very simple to construct your own e.g. stacked hollow bamboo canes can make a great bee box/nesting site.
Beware Agapanthus Gall MidgeJuly 12, 2016
We recently had a visit from a customer, puzzled by their agapanthus flower head, with its slightly deformed flower buds and its failure to open into full bloom. This is a problem which we have had little experience of in the past, and were slightly puzzled by ourselves.
More frequently we hear reports of agapanthus growing lush foliage at the expense of flowers – a problem commonly caused by poor watering after flowering, over-dividing, over-potting, or on the contrary, letting it become excessively pot-bound. But this problem was less familiar, so we turned to the wonderful world wide web for answers!…And the ‘go-to’ resource for gardeners, the RHS, came up trumps…
“Agapanthus gall midge is a new species of fly affecting Agapanthus that can cause buds to become deformed and discoloured and fail to flower. It was first noticed in the UK in 2014 but may have been present for several years.
Agapanthus gall midge is a tiny fly that lays eggs on the developing flower buds of Agapanthus. The feeding activities of the larvae inside the buds cause abnormal bud development and infested buds can fail to open”.
Photo source: RHS website.
It seemed very possible that this gall midge could responsible for the troubled agapanthus and we passed on this information to the customer in case they wanted to investigate further/take action. On returning home, and under close inspection, the customer was actually able to see the midge-larvae in some of his flower buds, and is now taking action to manage the problem – by removing all contaminated heads and applying (and re-applying) ‘bug-killer’ to try and eradicate all larvae. Fingers crossed it works.
As a ‘new’ disease, highlighted above as only first being noticed in 2014, we thought it would be a useful one to share with you all, particularly agapanthus lovers and owners, in case something similar ever shows itself on your plants.
Research is ongoing – there is a lot more to learn about the disease, its effects and how it should be controlled, but it’s certainly one to keep track of in coming years.
Perennial CentralJuly 11, 2016
It’s still all about perennials here at the moment – eruptions of colour all over the place. Let the colour do the talking…
Exciting nursery developments continue…July 6, 2016
We like to keep you updated on developments behind the scenes, and currently there is a lot going on up in the nursery that will help revolutionise our future growing processes going forwards. We’re erecting/converting two new tunnels – a new heated propagation tunnel and a new ‘frost free’ 3-bay tunnel. Heat to both are to be powered by a brand new biomass boiler, installation of which is to commence next week!
The panels through which the pipework will be run for the new heated propagation tunnel in the nursery are nearly down. The new tunnel will open up so many opportunities in terms of what we can grow and when – and will stop us being dictated to by our sometimes harsh weather. Propagator Graham is certainly looking forward to spending time in his ‘new home’ – a big step up from the current prop house in which he spends his days.
Likewise, the additional ‘frost free’ tunnel, also in progress up in the nursery, will allow us to increase the selection of certain groups of plants we’re able to offer you. Renowned for our large coastal collection of plants, we’re excited that we’ll soon be able to extend the range further still, particularly our most coastal ‘on the beach’ range of plants, which while tolerating the worst salt-laden winds well, have struggled in the past with the coldest inland temperatures on the nursery – despite being just a mile from the coast. Understandably in high demand down here, where we’re surrounded by coastline, coastal plants are one of our most important specialisms, and help define us as a nursery and garden centre. To be able to take the range beyond where it’s ever been before, is truly exciting and will offer you, our customers, more choice than ever before.
It won’t just be the plants that struggle with the severe cold that will benefit either – those that struggle with damp conditions e.g. lavenders, will also be saved from their nemesis! We will have the luxury of shutting the wet out and blasting some heat on them as required, to maintain the dry conditions they thrive in.
Being able to grow, nurture and establish plants in favourable conditions will put less stress on them and will help ensure that healthy, mature plants reach you in the best possible condition and at the time you expect (rather than timings being thrown off by a poor season and plants being delayed due to by atypical weather patterns).