Actually, most of June so far has taken place in the shed, the greenhouse, the kitchen, the garage – almost anywhere but the garden! The problem with a wet June is that as far as the plants go, on the whole, it is heaven and we humans have trouble keeping up with them.
Today marks the start of National Insect Week, a whole week of events and awareness across the UK. Many insects are vital to the garden, so join us in celebrating British bugs!
We have a selection of bee and wildlife-friendly plants for you to choose from. Or, if you’re not so fond of our creepy crawly friends, repel them humanely and efficiently with an ultrasonic insect repeller.
Here are some fascinating facts…
– The heaviest UK insect is the great silver water beetle, weighing in at about 25-30g.
– The smallest is the fairy-fly, an internal parasite of water beetle eggs, at 0.25mm.
– The Lundy cabbage flea beetle and the Lundy cabbage weevil live only along a strip 1½ miles long, 30 yards wide on the island of Lundy in the Bristol Channel and nowhere else in the world. They feed on the Lundy Cabbage, a plant that only lives on that island.
– Painted Lady butterflies make their yearly migration from North Africa and the Mediterranean to the UK each spring.
– When threatened, Ladybirds bleed foul-tasting poisonous blood from their knees.
– When a ladybird emerges from its pupa, it doesn’t have spots — the spots appear as the exoskeleton hardens.
– Bombardier beetles can produce sprays of boiling phenolic liquid in the face of predators such as shrews.
– Earwigs don’t go in people’s ears. Instead, their name comes from either ‘ear-wing’ or ‘ear-bug’ – referring their shape which is like a human ear.
– The complex folding mechanisms of an earwig’s hind wing have been copied to unfurl solar panels on space satellites.
– Insects are excellent at camouflage and mimicry – some caterpillars mimic twigs, and others mimic bird poo! Other harmless insects take advantage of our fears of bees and wasps, and colour themselves black & yellow to ward off enemies (even if they don’t actually sting!).
Joycelyn is a member of the Primrose marketing team.
She is a novice windowsill gardener but hopes to graduate to larger plants one day. She enjoys British food (despite its sometimes bad reputation) and British scenery.
At Primrose, when not tending to office plants, she deals with online advertising and social media.
Having returned from a week away, I was delighted and yet shocked to see how my beans and potatoes had progressed.
The bean seeds had been planted just a few weeks ago and placed in my newly constructed growing rack. Thanks to a week of extraordinarily hot weather, they had not only germinated, but grown a good 6 inches! They were looking pretty leggy so I promptly planted them out in troughs. It was a hasty decision and I’m sure they would be better planted directly into the ground. However, they were desperate for support and the troughs allow me to position them against some wall mounted trellis.
Admittedly, the freshly transplanted beans look rather limp and pathetic, but having settled in they already have some healthy new growth.
The other matter requiring urgent attention was the potatoes which have been chitting on the spare room windowsill for some considerable time. After a slow start (I think due to the cold environment I originally had them in), they’d formed lovely purple sprouts and were ready to go outside. I’m aware that many people follow the tradition of planting potatoes on St Patrick’s Day; meaning I’m falling well behind schedule this year. But having moved house in the spring, I hope I can be forgiven for my slow progress in this area.
Not wanting to use up too much ground space I chose to plant the potatoes in an unused compost bin. I already have 2 full ones; how much compost does one girl need? I’m not sure how suitable a vessel this large black container will be. I have in the past found potato peelings sprouting in my compost bin so it should provide a reasonably appropriate environment. The plastic monstrosity is not something I wish to have on display so I’ve hidden it behind some dense shrubs at the back of the flowerbed. It’s a sunny spot so I don’t think it will suffer too much from lack of light. To inhibit weed growth I lined the base with some old cardboard and then covered it with a layer of compost. The seed potatoes went on top and were covered with another layer of soil.
After a good watering I crossed my fingers and left them to it. Hopefully in a few months I’ll be harvesting bin loads of potatoes to feed my sons; who are themselves sprouting up!
I’ve just returned from a week away visiting family and friends. Typically, I chose to travel during one of the hottest weeks of the year so far; one which would have been perfect for making some serious progress on the garden jobs I’m behind with! I left my husband in charge of the garden; something he generally has little time for. However, apparently terrified that something might perish in my absence, he dutifully watered and tended my crops twice daily. Upon my return, hubby proudly led me around our plot highlighting how much it had flourished under his care. I have to admit I was astounded by the difference a week of sunshine and careful attention can make.
The roses are in full bloom adding a wash of glorious red and pink to the borders. I’ve made the most of them by immediately cutting a few to display in pretty jugs around the house. The pond irises, which for weeks had been threatening to flower, had done so behind my back so sadly I missed them at their best – Never mind, I hope to witness their magnificent display next year.
The wrought iron gate through to the back garden is barely passable as the surrounding lavender has suddenly taken over. A little awkward when you’re trying to fight your way through, but I love how it hides what lies on the other side, evoking memories of the ‘secret garden.’
Most impressive are the foxgloves which I’d barely noticed a week ago, but are now towering over me. We have a fantastic selection of pink, purple and white examples. The bees adore them and it’s great to watch their fluffy bottoms disappearing inside the long trumpetlike flower heads.
I have to admit I was a little nervous about how the garden would fare under my husband’s watch. I now realise I had no need to worry. It was a delight to return and see what a great job he’s done maintaining it – even cutting the grass for me! Perhaps I should go away more often and leave him to it. On second thoughts, maybe not; I would miss my beautiful garden (and lovely husband of course!) far too much.