As someone with a profusion of both types of bluebell in my garden I’m very familiar with the differences between them. The native bluebell carries its flowers down one side of its stem which gives the flower heads their characteristic droop, while the Spanish bluebell is sturdier and more upright with the flowers on all sides of the stem. The wild bluebell is also sweetly scented while the Spanish type is unscented. There has been concern over recent years that the two would hybridise readily and gradually overwhelm our woodlands, but the RHS reports that this might not be as serious a problem as was feared. Various scientific bodies, including The Natural History Museum are researching the problem and although there is still much work to be done, initial findings indicate they may not hybridise as readily as was feared. In my garden, I have found that by pulling out the Spanish bluebell stems before they set seed and leaving the native ones alone, I now have more of the latter than the former.
After all the struggles to get things growing earlier in the year, yet again nature has proved that when the conditions are right there’s no struggle involved. The runner beans and French beans I sowed 2 weeks ago are growing fast in the greenhouse and will be hardened off over the next week before planting them out, the first sowing of peas (protected by a coldframe) are growing well and the broad beans have flower buds.
One of the new tulips I planted this year is (supposedly) The Lizard. It’s a gorgeous Rembrandt tulip that has red flame patterns on a paler background, but now appears to be Crème Lizard – interesting but not what I was expecting. Until I identified it I kept looking at it hoping that chameleon-like it would change colour. Now I know this isn’t going to happen.
I seem to remember that last year spring all happened very fast and the same thing seems to be happening this year with everything flowering at once. Of course it does all look quite wonderful, but I find that unless I look carefully every day, plants that usually grow over weeks are up and in flower in a trice. The purple honesty all seemed to come into flower last Saturday completely changing the colour scheme of much of the garden, the bluebells are in full fig, this morning the camassias are open and the ferns are rocketing skywards. And I don’t remember a better year for violets. The accompanying gallery features some of the highlights in the garden at the moment.
Much as I would love to give a hedgehog a home in my garden, our area is inundated with badgers who consider them a tasty snack. Although we have now (fingers crossed) secured our boundaries from badger invasion, hedgehogs need a large area to range over – so one way and another this rules them out. For those of you who are badger free, the best way to assist hedgehogs is by helping them avoid man-made hazards and providing them with suitable places to nest, especially in the winter. They will reward you by eating slugs, beetles, and caterpillars. With every Hogilo Hedgehog House & Feeding Lounge bought from Garden4less in May a total £10 from the sale will be donated to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS).