Got the Blues

Oh Boy! May has come and the garden and countryside is full of blue…. I stopped the car and photographed the bluebells in the hazel coppice and beech wood nearby.

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Mells Estate Woods, May 2016

What the photographs can’t capture is the serene stillness in woods like this…. The dense woodland completely encloses you: no noises from outside intrude…. A shriek of a disturbed blackbird… Then a return to stillness and a deep peace.

It isn’t just the silence that’s compelling; it’s the smell too. A light floral musk that mixes with the damp-moss smell of the wood.

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I planted 3,000 bluebells (Hyacinthoides Non-Scripta) in my garden last November… Now they’ve come up… A lot of them look Spanish or part-hybridized. (Spanish bluebells are paler, do not droop or nod and have little scent).

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Hyacinthoides Non-Scripta, Mells Estate, May 2016

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Woodland/ Hedgerow Garden, May 2016

Our English bluebells are threatened by habitat destruction, illegal collection and the rise of the Spanish Bluebell: an invasive species that hybridizes easily with our native variety. If we are to keep our English bluebells we have to eradicate the Spanish.

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So it looks as though I am going to have to do a lot of digging 😦

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Still, there are lots of other blues in the garden to marvel at. The Camassia Leichtlinii in the Walnut meadow are out – putting on a wonderful show.

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This meadow is a mix of native meadow and cultivated bulbs. The idea is that it is a show of flowers from February until the end of June….. It is cut in July and kept cut until the following spring….

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It is hot and dry under the Walnut until mid May … Then the dense canopy of the walnut throws the meadow into shade.

The Camassia is related to the Asparagus family and comes from the American Praries. Apparently it was a food source for many of the native peoples in the US and Canada. I was worried about putting it in the garden, thinking that the badgers/ squirrels/ deers might dig it up and eat it… But so far…. (Fingers crossed).

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Pentaglottis sempervirens, May 2016.

This is Alkanet – the other blue in the garden….. This was here when we arrived at the farm…. There is no point in trying to get rid of it… I suspect that this is indigenous to this place… There is so much of it it’s probably a keystone species!

I keep it in check by strim-ing it before it goes to seed… it’s a bit like Rosebay Willowherb… A beautiful thug.

Alkanet is a member of the Borage family. The blue flowers of Borage do well on our poor limey soil: we have Borage (Borago Officinalis) and also Vipers Bugloss (Echium Vulgare) in the summer months.

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Borago Officinalis, May 2016

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Echium Vulgare, July 2016.

But May is the bluest month by far….

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