Weed hogging and magpie hopping


At the top of Seaford Head in early July, it was hogweed nurturing the most wildlife! Not the infamous giant hogweed, that is non-native and can very toxic if you touch it, common hogweed is a native plant and was blooming everywhere. Almost every flower head I peered over, was covered with busy red soldier beetles, feeding, mating and general congregating.

Hogweed (heracleum sphondylium) has lacy umbellifer flowers which are white or pink.


Soldier beetles are very common here and feed on aphids, pollen and nectar. The larvae prey on ground dwelling invertebrates such as slugs and snails. Another welcome insect to try and attract to my garden then!

It was a windy day and the birds were mostly lying low, except for a noisy family of magpies in a bush beside the golf course. Presumably juveniles, they congregated and cogitated, then flew off in a noisy hullabaloo.


As I walked down the hill towards Hope Gap, the hogweed was joined by ladies bedstraw (gallium verum). The tiny delicate yellow flowers combine into golden clouds that waft prettily all the way down the hill. The flower is most abundant on very poor chalk soil where it cannot be crowded out by other more vigorous plants.


Their pleasant honey and hay scent of the flower, made it popular in days gone by for drying and using to stuff mattresses, especially of women about to give birth, hence the name! In Norse mythology it was also used as a sedative for women in labour! Due to its high acid content it was also used as a rennet substitute to colour and flavour cheese!



(truckle bed at Singleton Downland museum)

The end of my walk was also accompanied by more noisy magpies, who clearly wanted to stand up and be counted. But I think I lost count in the end. Anyway this little chap certainly wasn’t on his own, so I think I can avoid the curse of a lone magpie today.


One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret,
Never to be told.
Eight for a wish,
Nine for a kiss,
Ten for a bird,
You must not miss.[1]





M is for marigolds, mice and mist

M is for Marigold. An easy bedding plant in cheery yellow and orange, and also Marsh Marigold a lovely marginal plant for a pond.


A great plant for the beach area is the Mediterranean salt bush (atriplex halimus) which thrives in poor soil/drought and salt contaminated soil. As we have had sea water run into the garden in the past, this seemed a survivor that could cope here. It thrives too, seeming to grow by the minute during the Summer, and frequently obstructing my path to the compost bin!


The Mint had another good year, various varieties in pots, that reappear each year full of vigour. I do  like a cup of fresh mint tea!

Another nice daisy plant is the Marguerite though mine struggled to keep its flowers this year.

And garden visitors, well there was a thrush briefly but I think it was a song thrush rather than a mistle thrush.The odd Magpie also pops in for a few seeds, always on the nervous side though.


And I think we harbour quite a few Mice. A few times I’ve opened the compost bin and found a couple cute little field mice poking their heads sleepily up. I don’t mind them so much outside, but this week I was wrapping my Christmas stocking fillers in my ground floor office, and discovered some unwrapped and partly gnawed Christmas chocolates.. Oh dear they must have come in from the cold. So now all the presents are banished upstairs and the only food is in a couple of traps.. sorry beasties.

And I shouldn’t miss out the Mist – I love the way you wake up to a sea mist, that gradually lifts and reveals the glory of the day. And I love Love in the Mist! What a fabulous name, want more of these in my garden next year! More more more.