• A catmint without the cats?

     The catmints tend to be excellent nectar flowers - Nepeta x faassenii 'Six Hills Giant' being perhaps the most commonly grown out there, which can heave with bees.

    So I was pleased while hunting around a garden centre at the weekend to see yet another cultivar 'doing the business' on the bee front - and with a butterfly indulging too.

    The plant is Nepeta 'Walkers Low', which some people list as another…

    • 27 Sep 2010
  • Trooping of the colour(ful birds)

     It was lovely - and a surprise - to hear the distinctive little 'pit pit pit' calls of troop of Long-tailed Tits moving into the garden. My garden is half a mile or so from decent hedgerows and scrubby areas, so they have to pick their way through whatever garden hedges and trees they can find to thread a safe route through the urban area I live in. I only expect to see them a few times a year.

    Long-tailed Tits…

    • 24 Sep 2010
  • Bees in your Bluebeard

     Now here's a plant I'm loving more and more - gentle on the eye, but big on the bee front (I photographed this on Saturday). And seeing a Comma butterfly on it this week too was another reminder that this is a real winner for those who like to see their autumn flower beds buzzing with life.

    It's Caryopteris x clandonensis, a chance hybrid from a family of plants that comes originally from Asia. Sometimes…

    • 20 Sep 2010
  • What do moths eat? Eggs and butter, of course!

    Confined indoors by my germ-ridden state, I've plundered my archives for things I've seen in the garden in previous years during this week of the year.

     And here's a little favourite plant of mine that can still be found in flower in September throughout much of the countryside on grassy waysides and banks.

    It is the Common Toadflax Linaria vulgaris which looks showy enough to think that it must have escaped…

    • 17 Sep 2010
  • Dancers of the dappled sunlight


    A bit of sunshine today drew me, complete with Man-flu, out into the garden at the same time as this little fellow.

    Most of you will recognise it as a Speckled Wood, although if you live north of about Blackpool, Leeds or York, there's a big gap in their distribution until you reach the Highlands. They are expanding their range north in…

    • 13 Sep 2010
  • Another winner for the Honeybees

    Please excuse me being plant obsessed at this time of year, but a herbaceous bed, planted with wildlife in mind, can really keep the autumn garden humming with life and colour.

    And here is another staple of the September fireworks display - Rudbeckia, often called Black-eyed Susan. I took this photo last weekend, so you can see it is still looking fantastic, and you can hopefully make out a Honeybee happy on one of Susan…

    • 10 Sep 2010
  • More seduction by sedums

    It's not usual for me to like fleshy plants - it can be all a bit plastic for my taste. But after my post about Sedum spectabile the other day, I seem to have got their succulence on my mind. So I thought I'd share some others that I have rather taken a fancy to, and which in my experience are all tops for Honeybees.

    First up on the Iceplant catwalk we have this racy little number  - Sedum telephium Xenox. Sounds…

    • 8 Sep 2010
  • Plant of the week - the REAL Iceplant

    Now I'm expecting that many of you will recognise this (left). It's Iceplant, doing what it does best when grown en masse - getting covered in Honeybees.

    This is the species that you can pick up from almost garden centre - Sedum 'Herbstfreude', or its literal translation from the German,  'Autumn Joy'. And very well it does too for hoverflies as well.

    But 'Herbstfreude' is actually a hybrid…

    • 7 Sep 2010
  • Mr Dahl's bee heaven

    All of us are used to the idea that living things have a name that is particular to them. And as well as an English name, things have a Latin name. Latin names can be a right pain to remember, but they are very useful. If two species have the same first Latin name, then we know they are in the same genus - they are closely related. And we have a Swedish man in the 1700s to thank for starting to get this naming system…

    • 3 Sep 2010
  • Proud dad of seven!

     It's a few weeks since a little gift of eggs was left in my Lady's Bedstraw in my flower border. I was so excited that I wrote a blog about it, delighted that a plant I had grown specially had finally been used for the purpose I intended. I looked forward to the day when they would turn into a clutch of bouncing babies.

    Well, that date has come. And here is one of my seven bouncing babies that have survived so…

    • 1 Sep 2010