In a starring role during this period has been Allium sphaerocephalon, one of the ornamental alliums, with tall thin stalks and very little leaf growth, meaning they can be planted and grown in between other plants very easily. They are much loved by bees and hoverflies of all sizes from large bumble bees to the tiniest of solitary bees, and all sorts of flies and butterflies.
|Close up of a Meadow Brown|
|Male Meadow Brown, with Spirea 'Goldflame' in the background|
Lavender is also very popular with both bees and butterflies, but in this shot they've opted for the allium!
|A bumble bee and honey bee share the same flower head|
|Alliums again, mixed in with purple Sedums, another plant which bees love|
A different kind of purple on the Pheasant Berry (Leycesteria formosa), which has been flowering for ages now and is forming berries.
|Purple berries forming on the flowers of Leycesteria formosa|
These are the first flowers on my blue hydrangea, which due to my neutral soil is normally a bluey/purple colour. Strangely though, this year, this is the most purple that there is and the rest of the flowers opening are a true, lovely blue! I haven't added anything to the soil to make this happen. I'll take a decent photo for next month as I haven't got any good ones of the whole plant in all its glory.
|Beautiful blue Hydrangea|
I have everlasting sweet peas growing up the fence wire of the veg patch and they've been wonderful.
|Everlasting Sweet Pea|
Back to lavender again. I have various plants of different sizes and colours, but this large one with very long flowering stalks is quite the stunner, and very popular with various different bees, as you can see! It was labelled 'Hidcote' but it's very tall and a pale colour. I was desperate for a blue lavender and finally spotted one. That was also labelled 'Hidcote' and is about a quarter of the size. I despair sometimes at the labelling in garden centres.
|Bumble bee and honey bee on Lavender|
The star of the show as far as butterflies are concerned though, is Verbena bonariensis. I've already shown butterfly photos on this plant, and it's also visited by various bees, hoverflies and the Hummingbird Hawkmoth.
|Meadow Brown on Verbena bonariensis|
First Swallowtail of the year and the only one I've seen so far, which is unusual. I have all this dill and fennel in the background here just waiting for their caterpillars to eat!
|Swallowtail on Verbena bonariensis|
This year my coneflowers have also proven popular with butterflies.
|Peacock butterfly on Coneflower (Echinacea)|
There is the occasional burst of orange here and there!
|Alliums again, but can you see the tiny white spider? (bottom left)|
My geraniums/pelargoniums continue to do well, although the green and white leafed varieties have been the last to start flowering.
|Pelargonium "Mrs JC Mappin"|
Talking of mislabelling, this was bought in Switzerland as "Mistress Mappin",
a name that does not exist.
Final shot showing the same front herb bed, now looking a bit more golden as the bronze fennel is in full flower, and the golden hues of the stipa grass flowers comes through. The bronze fennel is now covered in honey bees - something I hadn't been expecting - and all the lower growing plants have been covered in pollen which has dropped from above!
Again, as this is an uncropped photo, it has come up blurry. Click if you wish to see it sharper.
Had a good 14mm of rain yesterday so the garden is breathing a sigh of relief again. The stream, which had dried up and just showing a few muddy puddles last Friday, must have started flowing again briefly, as the pond water was up to just beneath the overflow this morning, whereas the day before it was down about 4 inches!