In the Pink

In the pink

My partner (who has very little interest in nature spotting ) likes to tease me, telling me I have just missed a wildlife spectacle just over there.. On Sunday it was apparently a huge cloud of butterflies that had just flown off when I had my back turned. What colour were they? Pink apparently.

Well I’ve not spotted any pink butterflies yet, and I’m not sure there actually are any on the list of Sussex butterflies, but what I have spotted are some lovely pink flowers, and some of them very attractive to the butterflies.

IMG_4959

The first was hiding near a hedge just up the hill. A cute little pink and white flower like a little doll’s bonnet faces. Research suggests it is common restharrow (ominis repens). The flowers were right down low on the floor. Apparently they are linked by fibrous stems with such deep strong roots that this plant could stop a horse drawn harrow, with the roots tangling the blades!

IMG_6914

This one is a bit more familiar, and found on the exposed chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters cliffs where the butterflies were congregating – wild thyme. What a wonderful scent too

IMG_5265

These little pink buds had me wondering a while. I think the yellow plant is Perforate St John’s wort.

IMG_5005

A week or two later flowers nearby seem to reveal themselves as common centaury (centaurium erythraea). A little beauty from the gentian family, that can be low to the ground appearing like an alpine on thin chalk cliffs or where grazed, or can be tall and slender. The flowers open in full sun. 17th century apothecary and herbalist Nicholas Culpeper reported of ‘Ordinary Small Centaury’ that ‘The whole plant is of an exceeding bitter taste’ and that it helped to cure ‘the dropsy’, a condition which is nowadays regarded as edema.

IMG_5261

One pink flower not spotted as of yet was the one referred to in this cryptic poem by Emily Dickenson

Pink small and punctual by Emily Dickinson

Pink—small—and punctual—
Aromatic—low—
Covert—in April—
Candid—in May—
Dear to the Moss—
Known to the Knoll—
Next to the Robin
In every human Soul—
Bold little Beauty
Bedecked with thee
Nature forswears
Antiquity—

Apparently the answer to the riddle is the mayflower trailing arbutus, which according to folklore with the first spring-blooming plant that the pilgrims saw in the new country of America. It is believed that the little pink plant has existed since the last ice age.

Cute.

 

 

 

 

P is for poppy, propagation and pots

DSCF2560

P is for Poppy, such a beautiful flower but one to ever remind us of the horrors of war. I didn’t really plant any poppies this year (the previous year I grew one was so disappointed at how quickly they died).

I did have a few Californian poppies but not so many as previous years, they would be happier with a bit more sunshine I think. In the flower beds a couple of rogue poppies came up anyway , a furtive pink haze and I am always happy to see a beautiful interloper in a tricky spot. Weed, what do you mean weed, there is no such thing, only the wrong plant in the wrong place! The poppy is very welcome anywhere in my garden.

P is also for Phormium, a suitably tough beast of a plant, that can cope with our ferocious weather. P is also for plentiful Summer Pots, of Petunias and Pansies.

IMG_2205

Always ready to cheer up a dull corner. Always amazing how one tiny tiny plug plant can expand and full a tumbling hanging basket. The yellow pansies came in small trug from Waitrose and filled two big pots; They didn’t stop blooming for months and months. Perfect.

IMG_4035

I must admit I’m not really a “Pink”girly sort of girl. I really don’t much like the colour pink (certainly in clothes and decor). However in 2016 I decided to bite back my prejudices and let the pink escape to run riot in my garden. I must say I was rather pleased with the outcome! Humble chives, joined the thrift, cosmos, fushcia and saxifrage where they made a perfectly pink corner, with the valerian boldly bursting out in the background.

IMG_2206

In late Summer I also grew some Phlox. What a little beauty! One packets of seeds, many different shades of pink and all blooming well into Autumn, in fact there is still some in flower today and the snowclouds have been passing over. Next year, more phlox please!

IMG_3214

IMG_3218

All rather quiet in the garden and shed just now, but it will soon be time for my favourite pastime. Propagation! The heated propagator will have a dust down, and I’ll be filling my seven tiny seed trays in our sunny spare bedroom with warm compost and new seeds. The chillis will be first, as they need such a long season to get going, with whatever other herbs and flowers like starting early and by March/April I’ve usually got so many seeds on the go at different stages, that nobody can easily sleep in the spare room as the window sill will be too full of seedlings to pull the blinds. Then I really run out of space and dream of a garden big enough to have a greenhouse.

Let’s get Potting!

IMG_3002