Garden Party Details Update

As promised, here’s the final list of those members who are taking part in the National Gardens Scheme (NGS)  promoted Great British Garden Party by hosting an event to raise funds for the NGS supported nursing charities, as well as giving us a chance to meet with other Cothigardeners after such a long gap :

 John and Helen on Sunday 30 August at 3pm or 4pm (backup date in case of bad weather Sunday 13 September at 3 pm).

Andy and Elena on Wednesday 2 September at 5pm (backup date Wednesday 16  September).

Ros and Mark  on Thursday 3rd September (backup date Friday 4 September)

Fiona and Julian on Saturday 5 September at 2.30 pm (backup dates Sunday 6 September; or Saturday/Sunday 19/20 September).

Everyone who’s contacted Elena about visiting a particular event should be getting an invitation from their party hosts soon with more details, and there are still a few spaces for anyone who hasn’t made up their mind whether to visit.

For anyone who doesn’t know about the updates, the Welsh government Covid statistics, click here, highlight that currently we’re really fortunate to have such low levels of cases in our area (Carmarthenshire 1 case in the last 7 days, and 0 cases in Ceredigion), so these socially distanced outside events held locally are probably as low risk as anything one might consider doing at the moment.

 

Plus Elena has already held a very successful outside party for a limited number of local “shielders”,  which showed how enjoyable a small get together can be, as we head out of a challenging summer and into autumn!

Everyone will be keeping fingers crossed for reasonably benign weather, but it’s probably a good idea to come prepared for an (unexpected?) heavy shower at least with umbrellas and waterproofs.

Hopefully next time I can include some photos of the different parties.

Mid August Update and the Great British Garden Party

Another month, another update, and hoping all members have enjoyed their gardens over the last few weeks. I know that Tina and Derek have, and have been very busy too, with a major clearing out of their big pond. Thanks very much to Tina for sending me these photos of the work in progress.

I think Tina may even have some spare pieces some of her lovely waterlilies available for interested members. Do get in touch if you’d like more details. Tina says:

I didn’t offer before the dredging of the pond because I couldn’t get any waterlilies out – but now we have floating debris and a boat so if anyone wants some small parts of 3 colours of big flowered lilies and masses of the tiny yellows – see before and after photos – we will be going out on the pond from this Saturday when we get the landing stage repaired.
But the landing stage has been mended today -the rain is filling up the pond and we will get the boat out on Monday for a trial and to take out some of the rushes debris – I am delighted with the regrowth of many of the pond plants and know that the moorhen didn’t leave so who knows what we will see.


Members will already know from Elena’s email, that regrettably the club’s committee has decided to cancel the remaining planned indoor meetings for the rest of 2020 because of ongoing restrictions on indoor gatherings due to the Covid pandemic, and the risk of an autumnal resurgence in case numbers. Membership subscriptions from 2020 will be carried forward to cover the next year, and any ongoing club expenses will be met from club reserves.

As a means of at least allowing some club members to meet up, Julian and Fiona had the idea of using the upcoming NGS initiative of the “Great British Garden Party” as both focal meeting points for club members as well as being a way of raising some much needed funds for the nursing charities which the NGS supports. Click here to read more about it, and you’ll see that it’s open for anyone to host a party – you don’t have to already have a garden opening for the NGS.  Although as Elena outlined, each event should be numbers limited.

I know a lot of members have already got in touch with Elena with offers of either hosting a get together, or expressing an interest in attending one or more of the garden parties. But if you haven’t replied to her yet and would like to come to one of the  parties, or indeed host one, do reply soon, as September will  be here before we know it.  When Elena has all the details she’ll email us again, and I’ll also try to put the details up on the website asap.

Here at Gelli uchaf, we’re hoping to hold our contribution to this event on Saturday September 5th at 2.30 pm, or if the forecast looks really bad for the afternoon,  (on the Friday before, but looks OK for the morning), then we’ll move it to 11.00 am. If all of Saturday looks bad, we’d switch it to Sunday September 6th with the same time options. We’d limit guest numbers to 8 maximum, and hopefully have a few plants for sale as well as providing a range of Fiona’s scrummy cakes and tea/coffee/soft drinks, and a chance to chat and have a look round the garden.  More details closer to the time for our potential visitors!


I’m sure we’ve all enjoyed some pretty variable weather recently.  On the night of the 11th here, we went outside to see if we could watch the Perseid meteor shower, and were treated to the most amazing silent lightning display in the North eastern sky, which we took to be over Ffarmers way. It turned out the storm was much more distant, over the border in Shropshire. For anyone who hasn’t seen them yet there are some wonderful photos of just how amazing the sometimes orange explosion light effects within the clouds were, on Welsh photographer Karl MaCarthy’s site, which he took 75 miles away from the storm in Tredegar. Click here. 

We’ve never experienced anything like it – standing in total silence in a star filled sky, whilst these sort of pyrotechincs lit up the horizon every second or so for over half an hour plus the added bonus of plenty of meteors. And no midges around on a balmy night to distract us!


Yesterday evening I thought I’d scatter the last few Snakeshead Fritillary seed which I’d saved from our top meadow, onto a section we’d cut for hay about 10 days ago, and in advance of today’s heavy rain. Another fortuitous decision, since as I finished, and turned round to head back down the hill, I saw a fantastic full half circle rainbow caught in the evening light with one of the crock of gold points exactly where all the lightning fireworks had been a week earlier.

Don’t we get some amazing weather round here, all in the space of a fortnight …


Two of the native plants, Knapweed and Devil’s bit Scabious, which we’ve introduced into our terrace garden over the last 2 years have begun to flower well this year. Both being chosen for their time of flowering, from August and then into September, as well as both being brilliant nectar plants for a range of bees and butterflies. Even better, one of the Devil’s-bit Scabious plants, collected from seed in a meadow at the bottom of our track has decided to produce really pale pink/lilac flowers as a nice complement to the blue/purple more commonly seen.


In the 25 years or so of owning Gelli Uchaf, swallows have been constant co–residents with us over the summer months, but perhaps on only half a dozen or so moments have I witnessed them playing feather tag, where usually just a pair, but sometimes more, will chase around the buildings and above the garden with the lead bird carrying a feather in its beak. Then losing it, or letting go deliberately (?), the race is on, given the speed they’re flying at, to see which can grab the lost feather first and take up the challenge. Usually a camera isn’t to hand but this time, in mid July, I was close enough to the back door as they whizzed along behind the house, so grabbed the camera, and they were still playing out over the apple trees and then back around the yard. The beauty of a bridge camera is having the ability to quickly switch to zoom, multiple exposure, tracking focus, low aperture (hence shorter exposure time) and swing the camera up, as they swept above me, before diving in through the barn door.

Game over.

So this is it folks! My only photo to date of swallow feather tag,  and you’ll have to look really closely to spy the feather in the lead, upper bird’s beak, but it is there. Honestly!

However, I’m really grateful to Andrea Gabriel, an American artist who’s captured this special moment perfectly in one of her beautiful paintings, and very generously given permission for me to reproduce “Barn Swallow Feather Game” above. Which communicates so much better than my image and the words before it, of the evident delights and flying skills of swallow tag.

Thanks very much Andrea! Do click here for more of Andrea’s wonderful work, which is also available to purchase on line.

Any other Cothigardeners who’ve seen swallows or indeed other birds playing feather tag, I wonder? Do let me know.


Finally one of my posts wouldn’t be complete without something on insects would it? So here goes…

In a previous post, I’d shown the huge waves of male drone bees returning to the butter churn hive after trips made to the mating aerial drone congregation areas in June. The swarm season now having largely ended, hopefully, and with food supplies available to workers beginning to decline, there comes a time when the colony determines that it’s time to get rid of the vast majority of these otherwise non productive male bees, which require food, yet contribute none to the colony, since they don’t collect nectar or pollen.

I’d read that this process can begin quite suddenly so was really pleased to be able to capture this moment on the morning of August 11th, the same day as the storm, when the much smaller female worker bees begin to grapple, drag and force the drones from the hive entrance. The poor drones, in spite of their larger physical size, can’t seem to resist the onslaught. I’m not sure whether the workers are using their jaws to chivy the drones as well.

Though the workers obviously possess a single use sting, they probably won’t want to use this,  since it might result in their own death, but standing beside the hive allowed me to watch a continuous stream of bees involved in this battle of the sexes in which there was only going to ever be one eventual winner. The set up of my hive with a sloping metal sheet beneath the hive entrance allows the determination of the harrying worker bees to be clearly seen.

The evicted drones will quickly starve to death, or suffer from hypothermia outside the warmth of the hive, and many will be approaching the end of their short life anyway. Yet another facet of the life cycle of the honeybee finely honed to optimise survival of the colony and species, over the individual.

And how, typically, it’s the gals who call the shots and exercise real power in this world!


Finally, as always, it would be lovely to keep hearing from members about their favourite plants, or things in their gardens as we go through the next few months. Why not write a few words and send an image or two, preferably resized down to less than 1 MB? I can’t promise to put everything up online immediately, but usually within a fortnight, and it’s a great way of keeping in touch and passing on information.

Or use the Cothigardeners Facebook Page.

You can send things to me at:

Cothigardeners@gmail.com

Thanks again to Tina and Derek for contributing to this post.

Mid July Update

Nearly a month has passed from the last update, and although Wales is now out of extreme lock down, and people can travel more freely, indoor meetings still seem to be a fair way off.

Hopefully all members have been keeping busy over the last few weeks, but not much information from members has reached me over the last few weeks, (!) which is why I’ve held off posting for this length of time.

(Eryngium alpinum)


Many thanks to Yvonne who sent me this …

Have you heard of Love Orchids? They’re based in New Milton, near Bournemouth. They used to supply the supermarkets, but when lock down came, that all halted, so they started selling direct to the public.

These arrived promptly. They all have 2 spikes, and were well packed. 


I’ve had a request from a member who’s asked me if other Cothi members have had any landscaping work done by Eynon Price based near Llandeilo, since she’s planning a major redesign of her garden. If anyone has any feedback about Eynon that they’d like to share, if they send it to me, I can forward it on to Jane.  Thanks. Cothigardeners@gmail.com


Members may have picked up that some Welsh NGS gardens are now opening, though   with some necessary restrictions thanks to the Covid pandemic.  Here at Gelli Uchaf we hope to have our first socially distanced visitors this weekend after a delay because of changing weather forecasts. John and Helen are also now opening, as we are, by prior arrangement only.

The full list of bookable NGS garden visits are accessible here. Sadly such visits won’t for now have teas or the same amount of social interaction as previously. Equally it will mean that visits are likely to be much quieter and more private, so brilliant for peacefully appreciating the gardens. Plus of course, as before, they’ll help to raise funds for the mainly nursing charities which the NGS supports.

We had our own private guided tour of John and Helen’s garden last week, on a rare trip out for us, and it’s looking stunning and has recovered really well after the late frosts which hit some of the Magnolias hard. We also did a bit of mutual plant swapping – a trade of some Sorbus seedlings from the Hergest trip last year for many perennial delights from John’s garden. Thanks John and Helen. Well worth a visit for any who haven’t been for a while.


Here the rather mixed bag of weather of late has caused challenges with making hay, though the upside to this is the meadow flowers are looking lovelier than ever this year.

Rambling roses which looked stunning towards the end of June have been brought to an abrupt end by all the damp grey conditions, but our apples have never looked as good, and after the very dry spring the foliage still seems to be in surprisingly good shape in spite of the dreary July weather.

The RHS recently posted a great short video on thinning apples. I never used to bother doing this when the apple trees were small. I couldn’t bear losing fruit. But it really does make a difference to the quality of a crop, and also helps to prevent biennial cropping where a tree produces so much one year, it takes a year off the following season to recover. It’s not too late to do this, as this video explains. The other way of looking at it is that you should pick off all the fruit and diseased fruitlets anyway to limit disease in subsequent years, so removing excess numbers now, saves picking time later.


With limits on options for travelling for many people, I thought I’d share a link to Gardening Masterclass zoom sessions. This has been spun out of a physical programme of events which were planned to take place throughout this summer with some of the most well known gardeners and designers from the UK, and further afield. Obviously the physical events have been cancelled, but Annie Guilfoyle and Noel Kingsbury who set up this concept decided to go online with it.

This You Tube link explains more about it, and then switches to an hour long discussion with Fergus Garrett from Great Dixter, widely regarded as one of the greatest English gardens, into how he’s coping with the challenges of the pandemic, and how he designs and creates the amazing displays there. If you can bear the sometimes dodgy video images, where internet speeds are clearly a bit poor, it’s worth a look.  It’s just one of many such pieces currently available, which might give us all an alternative viewing option for a wet July evening.


I shan’t include any video footage of the other 2 honeybee swarms that have moved in over the last month, but the short video clip shows just how much honey bees seem to appreciate the pollen in opium poppies.

This particular stunning form was given to us as seed by Jane and Ivor Stokes years ago, but being a poppy has decided not to appear for a few years now. This year we have just two plants, but the bees adore the pollen so much, that even with just a single flower open at any one time, half a dozen will try to cram in at the same time. Whether the pollen is laced in any way, isn’t clear, but I have discovered that it’s only the pollen they’re after. Apparently all poppies lack nectaries, so don’t produce any nectar.

It’s been estimated that a typical wild honey bee colony will need to harvest about 20 kg of pollen to sustain it over a season, so every little helps. A commercial hive may need 50 % more than this. Since a bee with well loaded pollen sacs will only carry about 15 mg per trip, that means 1.3 million pollen foraging trips per season to collect the weight of pollen needed!  So the more pollen laden flowers around, the better.

We’re just coming to the end of The Bees Needs Week 2020 organised by Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Again, no physical events this year, but click here for more information on how it’s vital we all grow appropriate flowers to help support our pollinators.  Their 5 top suggestions for helping are :

1. Grow more flowers, shrubs & trees

2. Let it grow wild

3. Cut grass less often

4. Don’t disturb insect nests and hibernation spots

5. Think carefully about whether to use pesticides


Finally, as always, it would be lovely to hear from members about their favourite plants, or things in their gardens as we go through the next few months. Why not write a few words and send an image or two, preferably resized down to less than 1 MB? I can’t promise to put everything up online immediately, but usually within a fortnight, and it’s a great way of keeping in touch and passing on information.

Or use the Cothigardeners Facebook Page.

You can send things to me at:

Cothigardeners@gmail.com

Thanks again to Yvonne for contributing to this post.

Mid June Update and News

We’re now over 12 weeks into our Covid induced lock down, and still getting used to life with very limited social interaction, and severe restrictions on travel. Although yesterday the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford did lay out the first signs of a relaxation, with all shops potentially opening on Monday and outdoor non contact sports being allowed, the 5 mile limit on travel stays in place for now. All hospitality also remains shut down still, though with a hint that this may be relaxed by mid July.

Regrettably, with this in mind, July’s meeting with Helen Warrington has also now been cancelled. Elena (who very frustratingly, currently has no computer access thanks to a BT mess up) has asked me to pass on that she’s currently thinking that as an option for August, with further relaxation of travel restrictions in the offing, it may be possible to hold some sort of arranged-at-short-notice outdoor event to replace what would have been our summer social event…

Watch this space for updates as we get closer to the time, and keep your fingers crossed for the weather.

________

Many thanks to Elena for sending me this information on what’s clearly been a big summer lock down project for her and Andy in their garden :

I have been planning this pond for a while and ‘lockdown’ has provided me with the opportunity to ‘get it done’!

Last month my neighbour, James, used a mini digger to scrape off the grass in a ‘dead’ grassy area and dig the pond, well not really a pond, more of a dry riverbed ending in a puddle 🙂
James then provided and put down the underlay and pond liner for me … it’s amazing what some people have in their shed, sorry James, workshop!

I then proceeded to fill it with stones from our river – thank goodness for empty dog and pig food bags… I filled these and Andy trailered them up to the house.

Because I chose to site the pond on top of a rubble dumping ground, I had to create bog areas (mini ponds) around the main pond for boggy plants, some of which I purchased from Jan and Phil at Rhoslwyn Plants. I can report that they have had a fantastic spring witnessed by loads of empty shelves!

Thanks to my visit to Farmyard Nursery last month, Richard was able to produce a pond pump to create a mini waterfall. I repurposed some of my pottery efforts to ‘tune’ the flow to good effect I think. You will have to visit to judge for yourself!

Tina, John and Helen and Brenda supplied me with pond weed and tadpoles and thanks to them my pond is now attracting birds, and bees for a drink. Andy identified a nuthatch! and soooo exciting, the first frog has taken up residence this week.

I have been trying all sorts of plants in the very shallow pond, propped up with stones, and Brenda and I have a started on a grocery purchased watercress challenge to see who can actually get it to grow in the pond! Yes she has a new pond too, come on Brenda, show us your pond!

As you can see, I have been having fun, even resorting to planting Hostas in hanging baskets, quite fetching I think 🙂

My only real problem with the pond is that as fast as I ‘arrange’ the stones to hide the liner, my little next door neighbour, Charlotte, comes over for a visit and happily throws them into the pond – well that is what stones and water are for, bless her!

Meanwhile, Andy has been busy in the polytunnel growing food!

While I have not been able to see you all, the garden really keeps me connected to you. That rose from Gwenda… (after a bit of ferreting, Julian and Fiona think that’s it’s called “Goldfinch”, and is a modest sized rambler, with almost no thorns – they have one too – thanks to Gwenda!).

… the ‘lifted’ canopy idea from Yvonne, that Achillea from Ann Large, the woodland plant (name still to learn) from Fiona and Julian. (Daphne bholua…) My pond has sooo much of Cothi members’ advice and generosity associated with it. The baby Gunnera from Angela and Martin a few years ago, that has been split twice and is still huge. Yeah, I know the baby Gunnera (split number three) beside the pond, in an artificial bog, will grow too big, but what the heck, it looks so lovely and tropical and connects me with my roots. Thank you all, you lovely Cothi Gardening people … see you soon!

Maybe for an open air meeting in August if Mr Dreadful oops, Mr Drakeford permits.

___________

Thanks too for this update from Ann and Anthony on their own lock down project this year:

Hi All, I am posting a few photos of our Spring Lockdown Project, which was two raised beds.

In which I have so far planted First Early potatoes to try and avoid potato blight, hopefully we’ll have eaten them all before it strikes! Also Spring Cornwall cabbage – we had an invasion of caterpillars at the weekend, so I spent a few hours removing them, before too much damage was done. The rhubarb had a setback with the frost, but is now looking much better.

Can’t say that for the Rhododendrons, I always have a photo taken on my birthday standing by them, not this year!


Looks like some serious cherry harvesting has been going on at Tina and Derek’s – thanks for the lovely photo …


Meanwhile thanks to Colin for sending me this photo of a Dark Green Fritillary butterfly,  Speyeria aglaja, which he found in the garden. Click here for more on its life cycle.

Meanwhile in our own garden I spotted two exotic looking Scarlet Tiger moths,  Callimorpha dominula . Click here for more and why it gets its name.


With lock down limits on activity continuing for a while, there’s maybe still time to plan a big project for your garden. How about being inspired by the short video below, which some of you may have already seen, and thanks to Richard Bramley for sharing it on facebook – well worth a watch!

It’s headed “So you’ve been in quarantine for 3 months. What have you been up to?… Nothing much…”

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10157145563191957&id=627541956


Finally, after talking about drones sounding like a bee swarm last time, as they head off or back from mating flights I can now offer a comparison, from this Monday.

By good fortune I was able to witness and film the entire process, beginning with “scout” bees checking out a hive all morning (filmed as ten second time lapse photos over 3 hours). Interestingly the scouts nearly all disappear from the hive over the last 4 seconds of this shortened clip (15 minutes of real time). They’ve flown back to direct the swarm cluster, sitting somewhere on a branch to the West of us, to this their newly selected home.

This second clip condenses the whole swarm arrival down, from about half an hour from first arrival, to them nearly all making their way inside. An amazing process to watch and hear – just look at the last few seconds and you’d have no idea of what had gone on before.

 


Finally, as always, it would be lovely to keep hearing from members about their favourite plants, or things in their gardens as we go through the next few months. Why not write a few words and send an image or two, preferably resized down to less than 1 MB? I can’t promise to put everything up online immediately, but usually within a fortnight, and it’s a great way of keeping in touch and passing on information.

Or use the Cothigardeners Facebook Page.

You can send things to me at:

Cothigardeners@gmail.com

Thanks again to all who have contributed to this post.

Summer Begins Early – Update.

As all members will know there’s still no real hint of when Wales lock down will be lifted for any sort of social gathering, so for now our monthly meetings sadly aren’t possible.

Thanks to those Cothigardener members who’ve sent me some pics of their plots over the last few weeks. At last we have some rain again, and after kicking off a bit of hay making here already, we can all reflect on the irony of lock down coinciding with what has been an amazing and record breaking sunny spring. The Met Office website has some interesting facts and maps to illustrate just how unusual the weather has been this year. It seems a long time ago now, that a run of quite hard frosts spoiled the benign start to our gardening year and caused a bit of damage to many of our gardens…

Here’s some words from Elena to accompany scenes from her garden in mid May …

All the oaks, beech, ash have also been badly nipped. Not a pretty sight, but so it goes in a Welsh garden!

Frosted Black Lace Elder

Frosted Fern

Frosted Hosta

Frosted Persicaria

Frosted Wisteria.

In our own garden Persicarias seem the worst affected plants too, apart from vegetables growing outside – courgettes and squash were badly damaged losing most of their leaves, potatoes got leaf tips nipped …

but enviromesh, water bottles and woolly mats seemed to mitigate the worst of the minus 3 temperatures, and all but 3 squash plants seem to have recovered and are growing away within a fortnight. Will they still fruit though?

In the hay meadow even some early orchids keeled over, probably because the flowers are about two weeks ahead of normal, following the sunny dry spring weather.

________

Many thanks to Derek for this insight into how he and Tina have protected some of their fruit from marauding birds in what looks like a highly organised and impressive system …

With the arrival of Bullfinches this has become urgent – we can cope with the interest and demands of Sparrows, Wrens, Blackbirds and Thrushes, but Bullfinches are real experts!
Our local wild birds are well catered for with the enormous planting of fruit trees and bushes throughout the garden and grounds, but we are being a bit precious about these within the cage.
The fruit is a mixture of old favourites, and some fun varieties, we’ll see how they all get on.
The cage was until recently used to house chickens for a friend, but they are all now rehomed.
It measures 7 metres by 4 metres, is made of aluminium, and was sourced from Harrod Horticultural some years ago.
I have included a planting plan – the Chives and Strawberries are not only welcome in their own right, but of course they encourage pollinators

_______

Meanwhile thanks to Alison for these photos, showing how nifty Peter has been at recycling an old bed into both trellis work and new greenhouse staging …

 

 

 ________

Meanwhile Sandy sent me these pictures of her amazing Pyracantha clambering over the side of her cottage and covered in flowers  …

____

Finally a plant suggestion for members, and then a discovery I’ve made in our garden both related to honey bees.

Ever since a visit to Sheldon Manor in Wiltshire in June nearly 30 years ago we’ve been great fans of growing vigorous Clematis and Rambling roses into mature trees to add flower interest. Since learning a bit more about honey bees, I realise that hives can often struggle to find good food sources in June – the early spring flowers are over, there aren’t many hay meadows left with wildflowers, and later natives like bramble and willow herbs still haven’t begun to bloom.

Enter what I now call the “White Dragon” rose. I found this as a seedling growing in the garden back in 2010, probably coming from a hip of the well know vigorous rambling rose “Kiftsgate” which we already had in the garden. But this seedling when it first flowered produced bigger, earlier, and more scented flowers than “Kiftsgate”, which honeybees and bumbles adore. After noting it had grown shoots over 15 feet long in a year, I planted the still young plant into a rotten hollow centred tree stump, filled with compost which was quite close to the base of a youngish oak in 2012.

This rose has incredible bendy stems, and is almost disease free (unlike “Kiftsgate” or “Paul Himalayan Musk”, which we also grow), with young foliage with purple tints, so it’s easy to train around a wire base, or into a tree, even if it is quite thorny. Once it gets going though, it makes its own way ever higher with no need for help. It roots very easily from cuttings, so if anyone fancies a cutting of this local origin rose this autumn, let me know.

The video clip above is of another plant taken as a cutting from the mother seedling which has now made it almost to the top of the still growing Oak. (apologies for the noisy background). This daughter rose is already making good progress going up into a Scots Pine, and probably now only 8 years old, but must already be producing thousands of blooms over about a 4 week period at “June gap” time. You can see at the top of the plant you’re getting up to 50  quite big flowers per cluster.

The bees completely ignore the other creamy named rose “Alberic Barbier”, to the right, and although most roses produce no nectar, the pollen is invaluable, particularly in this time of seasonal shortage.

The second clip I’m including is to pass on an interesting bit of bee behaviour which has been obvious for the previous four warm afternoons. Up until about 2 pm, the worker bees (all female) have been busy entering and leaving the hive on foraging trips for pollen and nectar. They’re early risers and work long hours. They don’t hang around and are almost quiet as they whizz in and out of the hive entrance. Then in early afternoon, the air around the hive suddenly becomes really noisy. Look closely and you’ll see that bigger bees, with much larger eyes, the male drones, suddenly begin to leave the hive. And they’re noisy. It almost sounds like a bee swarm.

But look even more closely and you’ll notice that they all spend a very short time before flying off, cleaning their large eyes/face with their front legs. Why?

Well these chaps are off to complete the still poorly understood part of the bee’s life cycle that involves them flying into specific “drone congregation areas”. An average of 11,000 drones from tens of different colonies fly out to these specific well defined areas which are typically between 15 and 40 metres up in the sky and about 100 by 50 metres wide and may be a kilometre or more from their base hive.  And they only fly on suitable warm afternoons up until about 5 pm.

Within these areas they fly around expectantly, waiting and hoping for a virgin queen bee to appear on the scene. The quickest 10 or 20 drones will chase her and if lucky will manage to mate with the queen, who then flies back to her hive after 20 minutes or so with enough sperm on board to enable her to lay hundreds of thousands of eggs over the rest of her lifetime in the hive. If the queen flies past just outside the invisibly bordered congregation area, the drones ignore her and won’t chase her.

The “lucky” drones are mortally injured by the force of the act of mating, and fall to earth dying. Poor things…

The same invisibly bordered congregation areas are used every year – sometimes over centuries. No one really knows how the bees find them.

So maybe the drones are clearing their eyes before take off after a day spent inside in the dark, stoking up on honey for the chase, so that they’ll be better able to spot any queens as soon as possible. I doubt if the queen has any time to select her suitors based on how tidy they look …

Anyway it probably comes as no surprise to readers that with the change to cold damp weather today, the ladies are still foraging, though clearly not as much as before, but there’s no sight or sound of the drones, who are clearly putting their feet up inside the warmth of the hive.

Feeding.

And maybe having the equivalent of a good bee natter. But who knows?

__

Finally, as always, it would be lovely to keep hearing from members about their favourite plants, or things in their gardens as we go through the next few months. Why not write a few words and send an image or two, preferably resized down to less than 1 MB? I can’t promise to put everything up online immediately, but usually within a fortnight, and it’s a great way of keeping in touch and passing on information.

Or use the Cothigardeners Facebook Page.

You can send things to me at:

Cothigardeners@gmail.com

Thanks again to all who have contributed to this post.

Late Spring News from Cothi Gardens and Gardeners

Very many thanks to everyone who’s sent words and photos to me recently.

We now know that Wales will remain firmly in lock down mode for at least another 3 weeks, although garden centres have at last been allowed to open again. Perhaps one of the longer term consequences of the pandemic will be an increased awareness of the benefits of gardening to mental and physical health? Sadly we’ve had to cancel Jim Almond’s June talk now, and still have no real sense of when we can all meet up again, so I hope that members enjoy these occasional posts showing where some of us are spending the majority of our time.

(Allium “Purple Rain” above – a new one we tried planting last autumn – maybe it’ll survive better here than others!)

I’m sure most of us feel really fortunate compared to so many at the moment, to enjoy this wonderful West Wales spring, with oodles of time to spend outside in our own havens.

Thanks to Sally for this recent update from her garden:

The long border at the front of the house was planted up last year with hardy perennials most of which were brought from my previous garden in Oxfordshire and supplemented from purchases from local nurseries and plant sales. This was after several months of digging out years of weeds and grass including one border teeming with Spanish bluebells, hah hah, and also having to have large Leylandii tree stumps ground out to release valuable planting space. One of the previous owners had obviously been a keen gardener as there are some good clumps of Astilbes and some well established Azaleas and Rhododendrons in the lower garden, and a raised brick planter with a Japanese Azalea and Pieris which I’ve cloud pruned as it was very straggly.

In spite of the really wet winter everything has come through, though I had thought I’d lost the 2 Rodgersias I bought at the Cothi Gardeners Plant Sale. But yesterday I spotted a pyramid like leaf cluster breaking through, and also my Nepeta govianana is thriving which I could never get through the cold wet winter clay of Oxfordshire. My numerous varieties of Astrantias and Geraniums are looking really good this spring and I’m also pleased with the 2 clumps of Polemonium ‘Hannah Billcliffe’ which looked very sad last year after being kept in pots for a long time. It’s the best Polemonium I’ve ever grown. The original plant from which I’ve taken countless divisions from over the years came from Hannah Billcliffe’s garden which she used to open for the NGS and that was over 30 years ago! I grew the Asphodeline lutea from seed 3 years ago and it started flowering last summer and looks set to be even more profuse this year.

We’re now working on building raised beds in a section of the previous paddock in the back garden for vegetables, and feel at home with the problems of an open windy site as we used to live at the foot of the Berkshire Downs but at least we no longer live in a frost hollow as well! We’re now on a hilltop ridge with panoramic views looking up to Llanllwni Common on one side and north as far as Lampeter and the hills beyond on another side.

Have taken a photo of my greenhouse this morning teeming with seedlings and plants of vegetables and flowers. The Dahlia merkii seeds which I got from you Julian have all germinated but no dark leafed forms.


Thanks to this update too from John and Helen, with some lovely favourites from their garden in early May …

This is cheating a bit. The Magnolia “Sunrise” is actually in a pot (it’s one of Carol’s that is temporarily living with us), but it provides a nice contrast with the Cordyline and the Euphorbia.  

Magnolia “Susan” (on the left) –  very easy to grow and very reliable.

The Rhododendron is probably “Cosmopolitan” – we got it unlabelled in a hypermarket in France. The Magnolia behind it is “Heaven Scent”, which, unfortunately, doesn’t really live up to its name.

The first flowers opening on R. “Horizon Monarch”.

R. “Picotee” – an absolute stunner.

Prunus “Pink Perfection”, living up to its name.

Prunus “Royal Burgundy”. The combination of light pink flowers and dark pink/purple foliage is particularly striking.

The tree Peony is another of Carol’s plants. It gives a real fillip to a rather dull part of the garden.

R. “Gartendirektor Glocker” . There are scores of plants named after German garden directors, a sure way to achieve immortality.

R. ” Winsome”, slightly out of focus. You win some, you lose some.

M. “Elizabeth”, one of the first yellow Magnolias and still one of the best.

A close-up of P. “Royal Burgundy”

Magnolia “Gold Star”. A fairly recent planting, covered in flower buds and growing apace. It will eventually reach 20ft x 20ft. Just hope some of us are still around to see it.


Thanks too for these from Sandy:

My drive. I just love this view, it’s so pretty. With Ollie dog too.

We’ve just put some wood chippings down and its looking better – hopefully less weeds next year.

A new project – we pulled all the hedges up and are reducing the size of the beds. Grass seed is down awaiting rain.


And thanks too for these from Elena and Andy’s garden…

It’s the end of April, but the “February Gold” daffs under apple trees are in full bloom.

Beautiful Beech tree in its new outfit of spring green.

Meg and in the background Patch enjoying the bluebells.

 

The crab apple tree covered in blossom, hope we don’t get a frost! ( Oh dear… Ed!! Minus 3 here last night and all my Squash and Courgettes are squished!)

The orchard in full of blossom under a moody sky.


Elena’s also sent in these ideas and suggestions for foraging…

Weeding loads of this right now:

COMMON CLEAVERS (Gallium aparine)
Also known as goosegrass, kisses, sticky bobs, sticky-Willy, sweethearts and Robin-run-the-hedge.
Roast the seeds and used as a coffee substitute. An infusion of the leaves is said to be extremely tasty with a hint of nuts!
From #NatureoftheBreconBeacons Pesda Press books

More about foraging click here, from Robin Hardford’s Eatweeds website.

FORAGING IN SPRING – BECOME A SAFE, CONFIDENT FORAGER, available to buy as a downloadable PDF from Robin’ website, as well as ebooks and physical books for sale.

Covers the fifteen most common wild plants found in Spring.
Each plant notebook covers the past and present uses of wild plants as food and medicine.
They are delivered immediately as downloadable PDFs. So you can keep them on your mobile device when you go out foraging.
No need to drain your monthly data package. And no need to be connected to the internet.
Each notebook includes:
* MULTIPLE COLOUR PHOTOS of each plant MAKE IDENTIFICATION EASY.
* Discover the food and medicine uses of wild plants.
* Learn the folklore and plant stories.
* Includes delicious recipes.
* Know which part of the plant to use.
* When the best time to harvest is.
* In-depth nutritional profiles for each plant are covered.
* Cautions and contraindications – what you need to know.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robin Harford is a plant-based forager, ethnobotanical researcher and wild food educator. He has published over 50 foraging guide books.
He established his wild food foraging school in 2008, and his foraging courses were recently voted #1 in the country by BBC Countryfile.
Robin is the creator of Eatweeds, which is listed in The Times Top 50 websites for food and drink.
He has travelled extensively documenting and recording the traditional and local uses of wild food plants in indigenous cultures, and his work has taken him to Africa, India, SE Asia, Europe and the USA.
Robin regularly appears on national and local radio and television. He has been recommended in BBC Good Food magazine, Sainsbury’s magazine as well as in The Guardian, The Times, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph etc.


Of course still in lock down, we’re not allowed any garden visitors, but rising early as I do to try to film the garden and capture the bird song… I sometimes find some uninvited, though very welcome guests, checking up on how the garden’s looking…

Finally, I don’t know how many Cothigardeners know about the Steven Falk and Richard Lewington “Field Guide to the Bees of GB and Ireland” book which was very kindly given to me as a thank you for my time as chair. Thanks to this and the wonderful weather I’ve been able to identify at least 3 new bee species in the garden here this year…

The Red Mason bee, Osmia bicornis, which wasn’t interested in stone work, but has hunkered down in the screw holes of our terrace table…

and gone in for a bit of amorous behaviour on the outside of one of our bee hives…

But obviously didn’t appreciate the close observation, so quickly dropped down…

…  rolled over…

… and fell from view. Well spring’s in the air after all.

And yesterday, and named for obvious reasons, a Sharp-Tail Bee, one of a number of Coelioxys spp. Which species I’m not sure – but they’re apparently all what’s known as “clepto” parasites of the leaf cutter bees. So watch out Leafcutters – the sharp tail is used by the female bee to cut into the larval cell made by the leaf cutter of rolled up leaf pieces, so that the female bee can then deposit her own egg inside.

Always lots to see and learn outside isn’t their?


Finally, as always, it would be lovely to keep hearing from members about their favourite plants, or things in their gardens as we go through the next few months.

Perhaps you can all send details about what got zapped by the recent frosts??

Why not write a few words and send an image or two, preferably resized down to less than 1 MB? I can’t promise to put everything up online immediately, but usually within a fortnight, and it’s a great way of keeping in touch and passing on information.

Or use the Cothigardeners Facebook Page.

You can send things to me at:

Cothigardeners@gmail.com

Thanks again to all who have contributed to this post.

Lockdown Update From Cothigardeners

So we head towards May, still firmly in national lock down, and having enjoyed one of the most glorious, quiet, sunny and peaceful springs I can remember. Ever.

Many thanks to those members who’ve sent me some pictures from their gardens recently :

From Derek and Tina a couple of weeks ago:

Cherries pollinated by bumblebees…

Distant hills across the garden hedge

Peaches hand pollinated by JoJo

Why we love spring.


Thanks too for these images and descriptions from Elena :

 Warm weather, Ceanothus and pink walls, almost Caribbean!

Bluebells are having a great year. Anyone else noticed that they have seeded everywhere since last year?

 The white broom in full bloom! Not sure if the yellow one in front has made it through the winter though 😦

Wonderful pop of colour from these. Getting more today in my order from Ty Cwm.
BTW Helen tells me Ty Cwm are having a fantastic year for sales, she is well pleased! Gwenda reports that Roberts are also having a great year and judging by Farmyard’s posts they are too!

The first of our strawberries in the polytunnel. Looks like we will have a huge crop this year!


And also for these from Alison :


And for these from Yvonne:

Here are some pictures from my garden taken last week.

The pink, over the top, flowers of Prunus kanzan are wonderful at this time of year. They follow on from Prunus Tai Haku with its single white flowers.

The unnamed Magnolia which was sold to me as wilsonii, but clearly isn’t. However, the flowers are wonderfully scented and loads of flowers from a young age.

Also, Magnolia stellata flowering well this year.


Evergreen Osmanthus delavayi, coming to the end of its flowering period, but still has lots of small white scented flowers.

Amelanchier lamarckii, raised from seed, has started flowering.

I love the leaves of Cercidiphyllum japonica as they come out, slightly bronze. This small tree has wonderful autumn foliage, smelling like burnt sugar.

Hellebores and Leucojum ‘Gravetye Giant’ still looking good.

The raised beds have been rejuvenated with new boards, and the arch has been installed. Watch this space for more developments.


And Avril’s passed on how her and Dave’s grandson Freddie, has caught the gardening bug young, and has been sowing and growing seeds and selling the plants from their garden in Norfolk to raise funds for cancer research… over £45 raised on the first day!


For those itching to get out and about to look at other gardens at this always exciting time of the year, here are two links to initiatives to bring garden experiences into your homes.

The first, locally, is a new garden blog set up by Joseph Atkin of Aberglasney Gardens, which as yet hasn’t made it out onto their website, but you can access by clicking here.  It’ll keep you up to date with how the gardens are looking, with fabulous photos by award winning local photographer Nigel McCall.

Secondly, the National Garden Scheme has been setting up a whole range of video’d garden tours of gardens which would normally have been opening for charity, but  currently remain closed under pandemic restrictions Click here for more, and also how one can still support the charity’s wonderful work, especially vital in these challenging times.

 


To close, a few snippets from our own garden.

Firstly a Camellia recommendation – Camellia “Les Jury”.

Nearly a decade ago we planted perhaps a dozen named forms of Camellias which we thought we’d carefully researched. They’ve taken years to really get going, but this year has been their best ever. However many, maybe most, have flowers which don’t die gracefully, leaving browning petals. But this one, has always been a star performer for us and largely escapes this failing.

It also seems to flower over a really long period – nearly two months, and even better the new shoots and leaves are tinged with red/brown for several weeks.  Plus it’s doing this in spite of me planting it within a few feet of a mature larch tree. So if you fancied a blast of strong colour, which looks great in any light, but especially backlit in the evening, then why not think about getting one?

OK it’s red, and doesn’t attract any insects, but heck, you occasionally need to make the odd sacrifice 🙂

And now one of the benefits of doing a blog. I thought after all these years, because I was writing this piece, just who was Les Jury? Which after a fair bit of ferreting on the internet brought me to the amazing New Zealand Jury garden at Tikorangi and their multi generational family of gardeners and plant breeding history, which I’d never heard about before. If you haven’t either, then you can read loads about the place and the people if you click here.

It turns out that “Les Jury” was the final Camellia of Les’ breeding programme and a very fitting tribute though we (it turns out) have several other named and AGM Camellias out of this same stable.

Secondly, Fiona spotted this splendid small metallic sheened moth, probably a Green Longhorn, Adela reaumurella, in the garden this week. One of the family of Fairy Longhorn micro-moths, we’ve never seen it before,But it was a real treat to watch as a small group of males sat on the leaves of  Cornus kousa ‘Miss Satomi’, waiting, and almost casting their enormous antennae to try to catch a passing female…

For anyone thinking that daffodils finished weeks ago, some of the later forms like “Merlin”, “St Piran”, “Oryx” and “Trellisick” can provide colour, height and even fabulous scent right to the end of a very sunny April…


Finally, as always, it would be lovely to keep hearing from members about their favourite plants, or things in their gardens as we go through the next few months. Why not write a few words and send an image or two, preferably resized down to less than 1 MB? I can’t promise to put everything up online immediately, but usually within a fortnight, and it’s a great way of keeping in touch and passing on information.

Or use the Cothigardeners Facebook Page.

You can send things to me at:

Cothigardeners@gmail.com

Thanks again to all who have contributed to this post.

Wildlife in our Gardens; Favourite Plants; April Garden Scenes

Greetings to all Cothi Gardeners, and other readers. Here’s a news post with various snippets which might be of interest. Many thanks to all who’ve sent words or photos to either myself or Elena. Do keep them coming…

Carys Williams contacted me with the following information, from WWBIC :

We are your Local Environmental Record Centre (LERC) for West Wales. We would like to encourage people to engage with nature by recording plants and wildlife on your doorstep.

During the CORVID-19 outbreak, the public are urged to work from home and practice social distancing. We think this is a good time to learn more about wildlife in your garden, if it is safe to do so.

The Common or Garden Project is a simple way of recording 6 priority species for beginners. (Hare, Common Toad, Hedgehog, Bullfinch, Blood Vein Moth, and Slow Worm).  We have chosen these six species which are included in the Section 7 list the Environment (Wales) Act 2016.   This is a list of the living organisms that are of key significance to sustain and improve biodiversity in Wales. We need to know more about these species, can you help? For more information click on the link below.

Common or Garden Poster_english

Thank you, and happy wildlife recording!

Carys Williams

Biodiversity Information Assistant

West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre (WWBIC)

Tel. 01994 241468 www.wwbic.org.uk


Many thanks to Brenda for the photo of this gorgeous clump of Ipheion uniflorum ‘Charlotte Bishop’ – An easily grown spring flower related to the onion family the foliage of which dies back during the summer. Growing amidst what looks like a wonderful clump of Snakeshead fritillaries.

And to Elena for these photos and words about her friend Susan’s amazing garden in distant Trinidad & Tobago, which has a wonderfully exotic and lush feel:

All over the world gardeners in lockdown are turning to their gardens for stress relief during these difficult times. My friend Susan in Trinidad, who I have known since primary school, sent these photos of her small urban garden. What a great use of foliage pot plants! I am sure many of you will recognise the Australian red palms, colourful crotons and bromeliads, bamboo, ferns and the orchids hanging from a tree branch. Lovely … thanks for sharing Susan!!

And back home thanks to Ruth for sending a photo of her productive polytunnel which is providing lots of fresh vegetables for the table during these tricky times, Ruth says :

This is my polytunnel with the brassicas I have been growing over the winter, plus leeks, purple sprouting broccoli, curly kale, cavolo Nero kale and chard. We are enjoying eating them now. If I try and grow them in the summer the caterpillars demolish them!

I’m guessing we’ll all be focusing more on productive plantings this year.

A couple of favourite flowers right now from the garden here at Gelli Uchaf: Scilla Bithynica, the Turkish Squill, shown below, and in more detail in the video clip later. It’s a stunning small blue bulb which flowers for a very long time. We bought a couple from Shipton bulbs several years back, and it spread so well from seed that it’s gradually making a nice carpet of blue, a good 6 weeks ahead of native bluebells.

and Narcissus pseudonarcissus, the Lenten Lily :  One of our native daffodil species, which is short and early, and always pale and dark yellow, but quite variable in form. It takes a few years for the snowdrop sized bulbs to settle in, but it’s then really reliable here, and produces quite a bit of seed unlike most daffodils, so can be spread around for those patient gardeners amongst us …

___________________________

The last 10 days of sunny weather have been a fantastic time for early insect activity in our garden, and a great opportunity for seeing just which flowers are favoured by some of our commoner insects.

Day after day of unbroken sunshine, even if the wind’s been nippy, or downright bone chilling – particularly first thing, when I’m out in my nightshirt and long johns. But I hope you enjoy the merged video clips from our garden 800 feet above sea level, in often really chilly and windy conditions

It’s such a thrill to find that after so many years of deliberately selecting and planting more and more insect friendly flowers here, it’s now (relatively!) easy to film such pieces – so many insects find our garden an oasis of provision this early in the year.

Images that reinforce the message that although we all love our flowers, millions of years of evolution have really developed them for their nutritional value to our insect fauna.  And anyone with bumblebee queens a plenty in their gardens in March will probably be familiar with the distinct impression that when walking round your garden, surveying the scene, one or two of these incredibly tough, and large insects will meet you, and if not exactly greet you, then certainly check you out.

Carefully. Circling you three or four times, before heading off on more urgent duties. Just to let you ponder whether it’s them invading your personal space, certainly far too close for safe social distancing.

Or vice versa.

Does everyone else find they get”buzzed” by bumbles?

And has anyone any idea why they do this?

You’ll see in the video clip below, in this order, these wonderful symbiotic insect flower pairings, and see how much busy work is still going on outside, Covid-19 restrictions notwithstanding, in the natural world.

And for any unfamiliar with the wonderfully adapted vegetarian adult Bee fly, it has a sinister life cycle – its larvae are carnivorous, preying on bumblebee larvae. No bumbles, no beeflies.

There’s still lots of opportunities to spot these up to the middle of May, when the adults disappear for another year. Primroses, Aubrieta and Pulmonaria all seem favoured plants for them in our garden.

Chionodoxa “Pink Giant” : Honeybee – Apis mellifera

Scilla bithynica : Honeybee – A. m.

Skimmia “Emerald King” : Honeybee – A. m.

Chionodoxa forbesii blue : Honeybee – A. m.

Primula vulgaris – primrose : Peacock butterfly – Inachis io

Muscari armeniacum: Honeybee – A.m.

Aubrieta : Dark-edged Beefly – Bombylius major

Muscari neglectum : Small Tortoiseshell butterfly – Aglais urticae

Primula vulgaris – primrose : Bumblebee queen – Bombus terrestris

Primula vulgaris – primrose: Dark-edged beefly – Bombylius major

Pieris “Forest Flame” : Bumblebee queen – Bombus leucorum

Narcissus “Brunswick” : Peacock butterfly -Inachis io


It would be lovely to hear from any members about their favourite plants, or things in their gardens as we go through the next few months. Why not write a few words and send an image or two, preferably resized down to less than 1 MB? I can’t promise to put everything up online immediately, but usually within a fortnight, and it’ll be a great way of keeping in touch, and passing on information.

Or use the Cothigardeners Facebook Page.

You can send things to me at:

Cothigardeners@gmail.com

Helping Our Local Plant Nurseries

Many thanks to Elena for this collated information about some of our familiar local plant nurseries. They’re still open, and at this normally busy time of the year are inevitably suffering very badly from lack of visitors.

So do think about whether there’s anything that you need, which you can source from them and help them through these challenging times. You’ll see many have come up with ways to make it easier and safer for us to still use them :

Ty Cwm Nursery : Sad news that Hollys Café at Ty Cwm Nursery is closed. Here at the nursery we understand that some of you may not want to visit us. However you may still want to make your gardens look beautiful. We can take payment over the phone and deliver locally. Give us a call and we’ll do our best to accommodate you. 01570 480655.

Farmyard Nurseries:  we are operating a delivery service for those of us who feel they can’t go out. Ring us on 01559 363389 for a chat, I’m sure we can get things to you. Payment can be made over the phone and plants/compost left where you want them. Alternatively we have set up an outdoor till at the nursery so that you don’t have to go indoors at all if you don’t want to. The shop and market stall are open and free tea and coffee is still available here. The garden is looking lovely too. Mail order is another alternative, see our website for details. I would like to thank everyone who shops with us for such loyal custom and hope everyone stays safe. All the best, Rich.  Please share if at all possible.

Rhoslwyn Plants at Silian 01570 422672 https://www.rhoslwynplants.co.uk/

Robert’s Garden Centre 01570 422756 https://www.facebook.com/robertsgardencentre/
Just another thought- if you’re worried about coming in to contact with people park outside the garden centre and call us on your mobile and we’ll put stuff into your boot…
You can pay by card over the phone.

Penlan Perennials: Hello all! Just a quick update from Graham and Julie here at the nursery. We are still open and sending our deliveries as normal – living in the middle of nowhere has it’s perks! We’re always isolated!! Please keep yourselves safe and your gardens beautiful! (Office) +44 (0)1570 480097 (Mobile) +44 (0)7984 880241

The Works Garden Center Llandeilo 01558 824238 http://growninwales.co.uk/giw_grower/the-works-garden-centre/

______________

Spring is always a great time of the year for planting out new plants, and this year we’ve 2 new plants we’re planning to get hold of if we can, having become very keen to add more great early season nectar flowers for our honeybees, to help them out in the mild, wet winters/early springs which we now seem to be having.

Firstly a medium sized evergreen bush covered in small yellow flowers which Fiona spotted last week on a visit with her Mum to Attingham Park in Shropshire, which caught her eye because of the noise of humming honeybees visiting it.

No label but  Fiona had the presence of mind to take a photo of it, and then being the clever person she is, used an online plant search to track it down. (Picture this – click  for link).

It turns out to be the Wintergreen or Chinese Barberry, Berberis julianae (which makes it another good plant for us 🙂 ). I wonder if any Cothigardeners currently grow it, and have other photos of it ?

Secondly after an email exchange with a friend about which garden plants her honeybees were visiting at the beginning of March, (with us it was mainly our Daphne bholua bushes) she commented that honeybees were flocking to her plant of Ribes odoratum. Originating in North America, the Buffalo currant bears fragrant yellow flowers in spring. Again does any Cothi gardener grow this?

Of course bees quickly move onto the next best thing, as one plant finishes flowering. Right now with us Skimmias (like the one below) are favourites – if the sun is shining!                                                                           _____________

It would be lovely to hear from any members about their favourite plants as we go through the next few months. Why not write a few words and send an image or two, preferably resized down to less than 1 MB? I can’t promise to put everything up online immediately, but usually within a few days and it’ll be a great way of keeping in touch, and passing on information.  Or use the Cothigardeners Facebook Page. Click here.

You can send things to me at:

Cothigardeners@gmail.com

 

Covid-19 Update from Our Chair

Members will already have received this email from Elena, our chair, updating the club’s status in these challenging times…

Cothi Gardeners is following the government’s strategy of social distancing and avoiding unnecessary travel, as I am sure you are too!

With that in mind we are cancelling both our April and May meetings and will let you know about future meetings as things become clearer.

Nature can support us during these difficult times and we are fortunate to have easy access to the beautiful wildness of underpopulated Welsh hills, woods and seaside near our homes in which to de stress and breathe.

In our splendid physical isolation remember that you are not alone. Reach out, call friends and family for a chat … talking is good for mental health which underpins our physical wellbeing!

Happy gardening and keep well till we meet again

Elena