If you've been following PPPHatch, you'll know that it now looks very unlikely that the eggs under my neighbour's Black Cochin hen will result in a successful hatch. I am disappointed, but it is wrong to expect a guaranteed result so whatever will be will be.
So to cheer things up on PPPs, I thought I show you the photos I took as I walked around the garden this morning. I just popped out to the vegetable garden and was struck by how beautiful the it looked – it was one of those "Oh wow!" moments.
I actually went to there to pull up the self-sown Borage and Opium Poppies to make room to plant out the leeks – but they look so amazing and the bees are loving them! – just look at these Honey Bees on this multi-petalled poppy flower.
I should really cut back the sage plants so we get some new leafy growth, but the flowers are stunning and another fantastic source of nectar for those bees. We get lots of different Bumble Bees, but today I noticed one that was very different – large and black, a fast and strong flyer, I think it may be a Violet Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa violacea) – can anyone confirm that for me?
I've been told it's definitely not a Violet Carpenter Bee – so any ideas?
Thanks to the BBC Springwatch Wildlife Forum and to Lesley's suggestion of looking on the Bee Conservation Trust web site, I think the big black bee is a queen bombus ruderatus (var. harrissellus). I also found this interesting blog post about 'The Black Queen' by Valerie Littlewood on her blog Pencil and Leaf.
I have a sort of plan for the garden, themes and plant/colour/texture mixes I want to try, but I really don't labour at it and I definitely don't spent hours weeding, mulching and tending – neither have I watered any of these parts of the garden even during this spring's drought. But I do like to create a different feel to each area of the garden so that walking through the garden is an adventure for the eyes and nose – today it felt like some of my intentions had worked . . .
This is a cool shady corner in the morning, it really benefits from white and pale yellow to give it sparkle; however it does get the evening sun and is a lovely place to sit at the end of the day.
A little further along the north facing border is a perfect place for ferns and self-sown foxgloves, every one is a slightly different shade of pink.
I love the layers of different greens in this corner – the Cornelian Cherry leaves are a lovely lime green and the tall grey-green Thalictrum really stand out against the darker trees behind.
Walking behind the Cornelian Cherry, the mood is cool and shady, dotted with white, pink and pale blue.
But looking up, the sunlight streams through onto the Honeysuckle which scrambles through to the top of a large bronze ornamental cherry tree.
Back out in the sunshine again – this is the view from a circular bed of roses, a little overgrown this year but flowering well despite the neglect.
On the patio I've allowed some plants to grow in the paving – like these Verbascums which are loving the dry weather!
Best viewed from the window of the bedroom above my studio – this mingled mass of shrubs smells as good as it looks. The scented flowers of Eleagnus 'Quicksilver' have now faded, replaced with Honeysuckle and Mock Orange. The pretty grey foliaged Rosa Glauca threads through the centre and the giant Miscanthus grass rustles in the breeze.
In the front yard I've experimented with creating a gravel garden border; the basis was bird-sown shrubs that I've encouraged to mask the fence panels, in front I planted the Golden Oat, Stipa gigantea, and encouraged plants to seed in the gravel – editing them to mainly white, yellow, blue and magenta. It's amazing what has appeared in this border – a Golden Hop and a Field Maple were very welcome indeed! And the insects love it too – the other day I spotted a Humming Bird Hawk Moth enjoying the white Valerian flowers.
Well, I'm off to plant those leeks somewhere! Then I'll be packing up the car so it's ready for the early morning drive to North Norfolk tomorrow for the Pick'n'Mix Makers' Market.