Thursday, 7 May 2009

Thursdays favourite plant

Choosing just 1 plant is proving to be difficult so at times I might be indulgent and have a few.
So I have a bit of a woodland feel here today.

First up I have the gorgeous English bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)

I'm really lucky to live near woods that are absolutely carpeted with bluebells in the spring, to me they epitomise an english spring. I don't think I need to say how lovely they are. Obviously they are protected by law in the wild but you can buy seed and nursery grown bulbs here and here
One thing with bluebells is to watch out for the Spanish ones (Hyacinthoides hispanica). These invaders cross pollinate with the natives and take over. It's quite easy to tell the difference the spanish bluebell is larger with a straight stem, bigger paler flowers, and no scent.

Solomon seal (polygonatum x hybridum)

I adore these plants, they're so graceful with their aching stems and green tipped white bells dangling under the leaves. It related to lily-of-the-valley and grows in woodlands (another native wood lander). There are a few different varieties of these(the "multiflorum" being the native)such as a variegated one and a bronze one that I saw at the chelsea flower show last year called "bethberg" that I'd love but have never been able to find. The name Solomon seal comes from notion that if you slice the rhizomes (thick root stock) you can see shapes and markings that resemble Hebrew script.
Polygonatums are really easy to grow but watch out for Solomon seal sawfly.These little swines will strip the leaves bare if they can, I pick the caterpillars of as soon as I see them and feed them to the chickens.

Bleeding hearts / dutchmens breeches (Dicentra spectabilis)

These babies originate from china and like a bit of shade and nice rich soil. They have such pretty heart shaped flowers, I love the pink ones but there's also a white variety as well.

All three of these plants look really good all planted together, and as a bonus they all like the same conditions.

One last thing don't forget to keep feeding the birds, It used to be said that birds only needed feeding in the winter months when food is scarce, but with all the rushing around they're doing catching bugs and flys for the babies, having a nice fat ball to grab a quick snack from will keep their energy up, but don't put whole peanuts out in case they try to feed them to the little ones, it'll make them choke.

jess x

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