Of motorways and meconposis

As I was driving down the A1 at the weekend I noticed with pleasure that there were great swathes of wild flowers along the banks, a far cry from 20 years ago...

Red campion on a roadside vergeUnlike in the 'bad old days' when many roadsides were sprayed or strimmed to oblivion, the roadsides I passed were alive with masses of red campion, cowslips and ox-eye daisies. They reminded me of the wildflower planting that we did nearly a year ago with last year’s intake of new volunteers along the arboretum footpath - and I vowed to pop and look at them as soon as I got back to work.

I was not disappointed: the red campions (Silene dioica) were looking glorious and have certainly made this part of the woodland their own. Jostling for space among them, but not yet flowering, were lots of meadow cranesbills (Geranium pratense) - I just can’t wait to see them flower!

Streamside beauties

Meconopsis (Fertile Blue Group) 'Lingolm'

Further along the streamside, all of a sudden the Himalayan poppies - Meconopsis 'Lingholm' - are all saluting their presence with their big blowsy petals and the size of their flower heads belies their dainty appearance. We have many more varieties all waiting in the wings to take their turn in all shades of blues, purples and even white.

The volunteers are looking fab in their new uniforms, which provided a lovely colour contrast with the rich purple of their clothes against zingy bright greens as they were weeding in amongst the Euphorbia cyparissias the other week. If you want a ground cover plant for dry shade then this euphorbia (also known as 'Bonaparte's crown') is your guy.

Rotavational motivation

Volunteers working hard at RHS Garden Harlow CarrMeanwhile, I gaily abandoned the computer for some rotavating with the big rotavator. It is good to keep your hand in with these tools even if that doesn’t happen very often these days, all went well and I was quite pleased with the results. Unfortunately there was no one around to record this momentus event (me working outside) so I can’t show you. Rotavating the ground helps reduce the compaction of the soil and fluffs it all up so that planting will be easier and I’m sure the plants will be very pleased with my efforts. We plan to put in astilbes, Corydalis and a selection of ferns: Polystichum and Cyrtomium, pastel pinks and blues with gentle green fronds under the shady bowers of the trees along there should look sumptuous, I’ll show you next time I’m blogging and for me now it’s off back outside as the sun is shining and the sky is blue.

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