This Month

This Month August 2014 - Wednesday, 30 Jul 2014

It has been a tough time trying to keep on top of the work load as my labourer has an arm and leg in plaster. This means that as well as look after mum and do her jobs I am also cooking the meals and trying to do my own jobs, this comes at a time when there is also fruit and vegetables to harvest for the year ahead. Though admittedly some days have been too hot or humid to do a lot of work so I was then please to have the excuse of sitting on the veranda podding peas and beans. I do enjoy sitting on the veranda and listening to nature as there is such a lot to hear and see.

I had a very hard day of work pulling out a lot of water plants which had grown far too vigorously in the lake, this was mostly Sagittaria (Arrowhead) and a Water Lily. There is now much more space to mess around on the water in my little boat, it is very relaxing to row around the lake and watching the pond life at close quarters, well I can dream can’t I!

I am trying to give a quick tidy to all the herbaceous beds, weeding and cutting off the dead heads although I am leaving some to seed such as the lovely frothy purple-flowering Thalictrum, I have cut down the yellow Thalictrum as I am not so keen on those.

I am hoping to find time soon to give a quick tidy to the big herbaceous bed in the Lower Garden, I call it damage limitation. I have noticed that Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed) has seeded around hugely and will drown some of the other plants if I am not careful but as the insects love it I will leave those until it has finished flowering. It is a bit too hot to work there if the sun is out so I will try to get the job done in early mornings or late evenings.

Studies now show that along with bee populations being rapidly destroyed by the use of neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics) they are also killing many birds such as warblers, swallows, starlings and thrushes which at the present rate within 10 years 35% of birds will disappear in the areas studied.

Plant of the Month: Monarda didyma - Bee Balm or Oswego Tea

There are 15 species of these perennials or annuals which are from North America which are good for bees. They are frost hardy and prefer sun though will accept some shade. The perennials prefer moist soil and the annuals prefer well-drained or sandy soil.

M. didyma is a herb and was used by American Indians and early colonists as tea. It has spidery red, white or pink flowers. I think the young leaves may also be used in a salad or as a stuffing for roast meat. It grows to about 3ft (1m) and the leaves have a citrus-like scent. Propagate by division of established clumps.

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