My favourite flowers – for me, for bees and for lots of other lovely insects

I may have many other ‘favourite’ plants beside these, but these three are if you like, my favourite of favourites for being utterly lovely, attracting bees and many, many other insects and they need as many as we can possibly provide for them.

Spring us just about upon us and many of us will be busy planning and planting in the coming weeks.  To feed as many bees and other insects please include these three lovely members of the apiaciae family (previously known as umbellifers):

Fennel – the herb rather than the vegetable.  I have large clumps along a path and the plants are literally buzzing through the summer.

dscn6504-fennel-and-carrot

Fennel and carrot in long border summer 2014

Carrot has the most remarkable number of individual flowers on each head and is incredibly beautiful.  For flowers this year, plant a carrot, for flowers next year sow some seed and leave the plants over the winter, they won’t die!

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Carrot in flower

Flat leafed parsley – plants purchased this year may be in either their first or their second year of growth; if they don’t flower this year, leave them in to do so next year.  Seeds sown this year will flower next year.  If you let even one plant go to seed as I did in this border you will eventually have an absolute mass of plants all flowering together which is one of the most loveliest sights I have ever seen.

Flat leafed parsley in flower

There are lots of other plants in this family which are all similarly attractive to bees and other insects.  Early in the year there is sweet cicely and angelica which can be sown this year for flowering next year.  I should have seeds of both to spare from my plants later on this spring or summer – leave a comment for me if you would like some.

DSCN6178 angelica 24 April 2014

Angelica about to flower

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Sweet cicely

Posted in Borderland Garden, Flowers, Relationship with nature | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Forest gardens are natural systems

From the outset a forest garden is designed as a natural system.  We provide the physical structure – various edible trees, climbers, shrubs, herbaceous perennials and some annuals – to make the best use of the physical space and ensure a diversity of plants for the various needs of an ecosystem.  After that it is largely up to nature to work her magic.  Diversity ensures health, an abundance of biomass which is allowed to compost naturally back into the soil ensures increasing fertility.  Allowing plants to flower and set seed calls forth new generations and fills gaps and nature adds her own plants in from the wind or from the seedbank of the generations before that is sitting in the soil waiting for the opportunity to grow.  This enhances diversity and makes the system yet more resilient.

When I began my forest gardening adventure I had in mind to make minimal interventions and let nature have as free a hand as possible.  This has continued to be my practice and will remain so.  I have quickly looked through photos from 2016 from March to December to illustrate nature’s role as primary gardener – there were hundreds to choose from so here is my selection:

IMG_2013 wintry mulch of mashua stems

Last summer’s mashua stems covering the ground through the winter – habitat for insects and protection for the soil

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Blackbird feasting on ivy berries

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Ground cover beneath gooseberry bush, self sown lamb’s lettuce and salsify amidst twiggy debris

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Chives, parsley and bugle were planted here, forget me not and dandelion added by nature

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Leaf beet, self sown from the previous year’s seed

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Tree onions growing very strongly, surrounded by clover, marjoram, land cress, skirret, fennel and with some dead plant material (possibly land cress) feeding the soil behind them.

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

A forest of fennel – incredible for the bees and hoverflies in summer then the seeds feed blue tits in winter

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Sunset apples on a tree which has been in the garden for three years

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Daubenton’s kale cutting from the previous year has spread to lean across the lawn and is growing strongly as the autumn approaches.

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

November now and the frost has come. Plants are bending to the cold but the oca, Jerusalem artichoke and mashua here will give a harvest yet.

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

December, the garden is sleeping but the structure is in place to provide habitat for wildlife over the winter months and to protect the soil.

 

And it was also beautiful – largely thanks to the flowers planted by nature:

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Salsify flower land cress and forget me not behind

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

The ‘triangle’ bed

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Self sown Californian poppy and self sown vetch

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Self sown foxgloves

 

20160814_124421

Yarrow, vetch and fennel

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Polyculture edged with nasturtiums and fennel

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Jerusalem artichoke in flower

Standing on the cusp of spring 2017 I am so looking forward to what unfolds this year.

 

 

Posted in biomass, Borderland Garden, Flowers, Forest Gardening, Perennial Vegetables, Polycultures, Relationship with nature | 5 Comments

The rules of spacing

From one of my favourite bloggers – Luke Simon – who blogs asn ‘Mortal Tree’ – a fascinating and informative post about how trees grow. I am going to order the book he recommends right now as it looks amazing.

Mortal Tree

I was at a Christmas party in conversation with a local Timken engineer who, hearing I design food forests, wanted to pick my brain on apple trees. He had six trees in two rows of three, well spaced in his backyard. He was throwing out terms about the mainstream organic sprays he was using, and framed his questions expecting me to know some super organic spray, or spray regimen, that would fix his problems of pests and low vigor in general. I don’t think he expected the answer I gave: ‘What’s planted around the trees?’

We often think of the rules of spacing as rules for keeping other plants away from each other. In practice I find the lines blur between species, and enters a much more broad science: it’s what should be included near the plant, as well as what shouldn’t. Between these two aspects, you make or break…

View original post 937 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Pennard Plants

The range of suppliers that provide interesting heritage and perennial vegetables is increasing all the time.  I used to survey all the companies I knew of each year to provide a summary for readers but that would be too big a job now!  So I want to do the occasional blog post to bring attention to certain seed suppliers and plant nurseries that I think are particularly good.  Pennard Plants are one of these.

I have been ordering from them for years, since my early days of sourcing perennial vegetables and I would think I have had something every year since.  This week I have just taken delivery of three step-over fruit trees, a hydrophyllum virginianum, a Chinese celery and a mouse garlic plant – all new to me.  More about the fruit trees soon once they have been planted properly.

If you click here you will find a super range of wild and unusual edibles and here for a range of unusual edible plants.  There are plenty of other things to browse as well!

I have just spotted some perennial buckwheat and other things I did not order before, so am about to do so.

The sun has been shining this afternoon and my partner and I have been out in the garden tidying up a bit and admiring the snowdrops and aconites, the lamb’s lettuce and the many and various plants and shrubs that are preparing to burst forth soon!

Posted in Borderland Garden, Edible Perennial Gardening, Fruit trees, perennial greens, roots and tubers, Suppliers | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Readers’ reviews on Amazon

Hello everyone – this is more of a letter than a blog post.

Since my book – Edible Perennial Gardening – was published in 2014 I have been delighted to receive a number of emails and also personal comments about how much people have enjoyed it.  As it is coming up to Christmas and lots of people enjoy giving and receiving books as presents I thought I would make a suggestion about my own book.

Permanent Publications (my publishers) suggested to me that I ask anyone who has enjoyed it to write a review on Amazon as so many of us find other people’s reviews very helpful in deciding whether or not to buy something.  I know I often look at Amazon reviews of books I am thinking of getting, although whenever possible I buy them elsewhere.  I don’t think you have to have bought through Amazon to leave a review on there, so I shall leave it to those of you who have enjoyed my book to consider posting something on there.

For anybody who has not got a copy and would like one, it is available through Green Shopping which is the trading part of Permanent Publications and if people buy this way I get more of the proceeds!  Today the price is £13.45 at Green Shopping and £14.95 on Amazon, which is actually not what I had expected to find.

Best wishes, Anni x

 

Posted in Edible Perennial Gardening | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Review of spring polyculture patch

This bed was started in the spring of 2014.  Originally I just needed somewhere to transplant a number of perennial vegetables from my first bed in this garden (below) which was about to be covered over with an extension to the house.

dscn5515-polypatch060913

First polyculture patch, September 2013

The original polyculture bed that I was about to lose had been ‘constructed’ the previous year  from all manner of organic materials found in the garden – decomposed leaves etc from the hedge, ivy from the hedge, lawn cuttings, hedge trimmings and more.  Over the first growing season it had taken on a reasonable texture and I wanted to re-use this material.

The spring polyculture bed lies on the southern border of the garden adjacent to an evergreen hedge.  The garden slopes down to the south and also to the west, so the corner of this bed that lies in the south west corner of the garden is damp and shady as it also lies in the shade of the neighbouring house and fence.  It is a curvy shape, about 6.5 m long and between 1.75 and 2 m deep.

On top of the lawn, without removing any turf, I first laid some decent sized branches that had died within the hedge and some that I had also cut out.  On top and amongst these I placed other woody, twiggy materials and then covered these with the material from the original polyculture.  I put an edge of stones taken from other parts of the garden and put a decorative edge of willow round it. To my mind the decorative edge was not strictly necessary, but knowing that the planting was going to be unconventional the edging was included to provide some reassurance to the neighbours.

 

photo-29

Spring polyculture patch, just finished March 2014

photo-47-polyculture-1-new

Spring polypatch being planted May 2014

Over time the bed has been extended lengthways to where it meets an apple tree.  It has also been built up with upturned turfs removed from elsewhere in the garden and lawn cuttings.

The current aims is for this bed are:

  • To grow leafy greens and fruits
  • For the slightly newer westerly end, which is sunnier and better drained – to grow different onions and a few root vegetables.
  • Across the whole bed to supplement the edible planting with herbs and flowers for both visual effect and for the insects
  • To be as maintenance free as possible

The table below gives a comprehensive list of what is in the bed at the moment.  As noted in my previous review posts in the table the purposes the plants can have are:

  • Edible
  • Flowering
  • Medicinal properties
  • For biomass – at the end of the season, or sooner if they are too large for their space I cut back plants and mulch the ground where they grew, feeding organic material to the soil.
  • To supply nitrogen
  • To help break up the soil

My observation is that every plant that flowered attracted a good deal of insect life and was also visually delightful so my notation of ‘flowers’ in the table is intended to reflect this dual purpose (unless noted otherwise the flowering period is summer).

Name Purpose When sown and notes
Root vegetables    
Jerusalem artichoke Edible root

Biomass

 

Probably planted 2014

Will harvest later and replant for next year.

Mashua Edible root Not yet harvested.  Remains of last year’s crop not intentionally planted in this area as it gets a bit big.  Have been cutting / pulling it back through the summer.
Oca Edible root Not yet harvested
Salsify Edible root

Flowers

Replanted from other borders where they were too congested.  To leave to flower.
Skirret Edible root

Flowers

Planted 2014/5

Not harvested yet, will be digging up and splitting the plants at some point.

Onions (alliums)    
Chives Planted along the edge for decoration as well as for cutting.
Perennial leek Edible Planted 2014/5

Not harvested this year, produced flower heads and large collections of bulbils.

Three cornered leek Edible leaves and flowers Some planted in previous years, self seeds and increases each year.
Welsh onion Edible Transplanted from another bed in 2015, being left to grow and multiply.
Wild garlic Edible leaves and flowers Planted along the back edge in 2016 to help prevent grass and buttercups growing over the bed.
Fruit    
Blackcurrant Edible fruit Maturing bush, has buds on for fruit next year.
Gooseberry

Hinomaki red

Edible fruit Young plant from cutting not mature enough to fruit yet.
Jostaberry Edible fruit Maturing plant, should fruit next year.
June berry Edible berries Planted 2015

Still a young plant, no fruits yet.

Wild strawberry Edible fruit Small plants along the edge produce small quantities of fruit through the summer.
Edible greens and herbs  
Buckshorn plantain Edible leaves Sown from seed in 2015.  Small plants struggling a little bit in the damp, shady end.
Cardoon Edible leaves and flower buds

Flowers

Young plant, still small.
Fennel Culinary and medicinal herb

Flowers

Transplanted from elsewhere.

Fantastic for insects, harvested for seeds, blue tits also eat seeds.

Good King Henry Edible greens Trying again in 2016 after finding out this is palatable if soaked in salt water before cooking.
Lamb’s lettuce Edible greens

Spring flowers

Self set 2016
Land cress Edible greens

Spring flowers

Originally sown in 2014, has been re-seeding since then.
Lemon balm Culinary herb
Marjoram Culinary herb

Flowers

Planted 2014

Not harvested, has attracted insects and looked lovely.

Sorrel Edible leaves Planted 2014.

Substantial perennial plant.

Sweet cicely Culinary herb

Flowers

Planted 2014

Attractive flowers

Wild rocket Edible greens

Flowers

Probably self set one or two years ago.

Not harvested, more in the garden than we need.

Flowering plants    
Bugle Flowers, not edible Transplanted from elsewhere in the garden for edging.
Buttercup (creeping) Flowers Already in the garden.  I always pull this up when I see it.
Calendula Flowers Has been re-seeding itself each year
Clove root Wild flower Already in the garden.  I always pull this up when I see it.
Daffodil Spring flowers

 

Planted 2014

Attractive flowers

Dandelion Wild flower Here already
Forget me nots Spring flowers

 

Self set 2015

Attractive flowers

Foxglove Flowers, not edible Spring flowering plant.
Honesty Flowers, not edible Spring flowering plant.
Nettle Edible leaves Already in garden.  I pull it up from this border.
Parsley Culinary herb

Flowers

Donated plant from a friend, half dead on arrival.  Planted and left to flower to get more plants next year.
Pulmonaria Flowers, not edible Spring flowering plant.
Radish Flowers Has been in the bed for several years, self seeding each year.  Not grown for root but for flowers which are amazing.  Flowers are edible as are young pods and flower shoots.

 

Self heal Medicinal herb

Flowers

Transplanted in 2014 from elsewhere in garden
Wild marjoram Culinary herb

Flowers

Has been in the bed since the beginning, lovely!
Yarrow Flowers
Others    
Dock Wild plant

Tap root to break up stony soil

Leaves for accumulating nutrients

Here already

Leaves pulled when too large / encroaching on other plants and mulched on bed

Spring pea Garden plant bought for early flowers and nitrogen fixing.
Ground ivy Spread from next door and is prone to over run this and other beds.  I will be removing it as far as possible next year.

Assessment

This bed very quickly established itself, looking very good and producing harvests in its first year.

dscn6554-polypatch-1

Spring polypatch, August 2014

dscn6564

Spring polypatch, August 201

It has continued to be easy to look after, productive and attractive!

 

img_1866-yes

Spring polypatch in August 2015 (second year)

Harvests

  • Lamb’s lettuce which self seeds from year to year. Harvests can start early in the year and last for several months until the plants run to flower and seed.
  • Land cress – some plants stay in situ and new ones are self set. Harvests are from early in the year for several months.  Later, larger leaves can be cooked.
  • Wild rocket – harvests are from spring to late autumn every year.
  • Leaf beet – some plants stay in situ and new ones are self set. Harvests are from spring until the plants send up flower shoots.  I let the seeds ripen and collect them to share with others.
  • Variegated Daubenton’s kale does not flower and is potentially ‘harvestable’ all year round. This year has been a very good year with harvests through much of the summer.  I take cuttings in autumn and winter to propagate more plants.
  • Other kales – currently Taunton Deane and Asturian kale. Harvestable in the spring, autumn and winter.
  • Herby harvests have included chives and lemon balm. The former for salads and the latter for herbal tea to help me sleep – for which it is very effective.
KODAK Digital Still Camera

Asturian kale, spring polypatch August 2016

 

Fertility

This bed is elevated above the level of the underlying stony, clay soil and has a high proportion of organic material within it.  It has developed a lovely textured soil, full of worms that seems very fertile and produces good, healthy plants. It doesn’t need any additional edging to hold it in place.

I have tried growing peas in this bed for additional nitrogen fixing, but they don’t grow at all well.  I will try with more field beans next year, which I think I have used here before.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Spring polypatch, August 2016

Flowers and biodiversity

This bed has lots of flowers in the spring – wild garlic, three cornered leek, sweet cicely, forget me nots, pulmonaria, honesty and more.  In the summer it is awash with radish and marjoram flowers but could include more variety, which is something to think about for next year.

Because of the dampness here I have several times spotted frogs and toads lurking just beneath the soil surface.  There are no ponds or streams very close so it is good that this provides a suitably damp habitat for them.

Maintenance

This bed looks after itself very well apart from the need to keep on top of the buttercups that would surely over run it in this damp corner if I did not remove them.  They still grow in the lawn behind the bed, so will continue to be a ‘problem’.

There is not a problem with slugs here, though you might expect that given the damp conditions.  This is due at least in part to them not really being present when I started this garden.

Cabbage white butterflies are a problem later in the year.  To begin with I do take off either the eggs or the affected leaves, but after a while they get ahead of me and I give up.  This year when we went on holiday in September there were lots of caterpillars all over the kales, but by the end of October the plants had re-grown and I was harvesting

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Spring polypatch, November 2016

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Spring polypatch November 2016

This is what it looked like this morning on a glorious, sunny, frosty, clear November day!

Posted in Borderland Garden, Fruit, perennial greens, Perennial Vegetables, Polycultures | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Review of ‘The Long Border’

This review of the bed I call ‘The Long Border’ is the second of a number of reviews I am undertaking to assess how the garden is changing and developing.  My previous post on ‘The Triangle Bed’ gives further details of my change of approach.

When we first moved here the garden was all laid down to lawn and my partner and I took up a narrow strip along the path in the first year of gardening here (2013) which was the beginnings of this bed.

dscn4615-long-edge-beginnings

The Long Border being carved out of the lawn

It was widened the following year and again in 2015.  It now measures 11 m long by 1.5 m deep.  It lies in front of the property alongside the house.

In March this year it was looking quite dormant but quickly sprang into life.

img_2012-long-border

Long border March 2016

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Long Border May 2016

This is how it looked yesterday, not bad for November.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Long Border November 2016

From the outset it has been developed as a polyculture, initially of fruit bushes and herbs, flowers and vegetables.  In 2014 it provided increased growing space to put plants and sow seeds that needed a home before other beds were developed.  In 2015 eight fruit trees were planted, with the intention of keeping them very small, more like bushes than trees.  This year I decided to simplify the contents of this bed somewhat, but even so counting up the plants listed in the table below there are 77 different plants.

The current aims is for this bed are:

  • to look attractive for as long as possible
  • to have flowers for many different insects for as much of the year as possible
  • to produce fruit (in due course) and herbs and possibly other edible crops
  • to be largely free of the need for ongoing maintenance.

In practice maintenance is generally taking out unwanted plants and to this end I have planted a number of oca plants between the bushes and trees as a ground cover.  Oca has proven to be tolerant of winter conditions here so I can safely leave them in over the winter to provide an even thicker ground cover next year.  Eventually I will probably harvest some.

The ground hereabouts is very, very stony combined with heavy clay.  The underlying rock is shale and breaks readily but occurs in awkwardly shaped pieces that are resistant to my trowel.  I have never attempted to dig this bed apart from planting things and that was a big challenge when planting the trees.  However plant roots are doing the job for me.  The carrots that I sowed originally and latterly self sown salsify, scorzonera, burdock, dandelion and dock, plus others have loosened and lightened the soil considerably.  I have been adding mulch on top to increase the organic content, largely using the plants that have grown in the border.

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Cardoon, chokeberry and others 2016

I have prepared a table below to catalogue the plants and their intended purpose and where applicable whether that was achieved.  A few brief conclusions are given at the end.

For the table the purposes the plants can have are:

  • Edible
  • Flowering
  • Medicinal properties
  • For biomass – at the end of the season, or sooner if they are too large for their space I cut back plants and mulch the ground where they grew, feeding organic material to the soil.
  • To supply nitrogen
  • To help break up the soil

My observation is that every plant that flowered attracted a good deal of insect life and was also visually delightful so my notation of ‘flowers’ in the table is intended to reflect this dual purpose (unless noted otherwise the flowering period is summer).

Name Purpose When sown and notes
Root vegetables    
Burdock Edible root

Flowers

Self set 2015

Not harvested, one has seeded from plants elsewhere this summer

Earth nut pea Edible root

Flowers

Planted 2013

Seeds harvested to be shared and sown next year.  Tubers too hard to harvest at present, stony soil breaks the underground ‘strings’ they are attached to.

Jerusalem artichoke Edible root

Biomass

 

Probably planted 2014

Will harvest later in year and remove from this bed.

Oca Edible root, but planted as ground cover. Planted 2016

After a slow start, did cover some ground.

Parsnip Edible root, plant left to flower for the seed. Self set in 2014 or 2015.  Seeds harvested and scattered in vicinity.
Root chicory Edible root

Flowers

Biomass

Grew far too large for the bed.  Roots cannot be harvested as stony soil breaks them.  Large amount used for biomass mulch.
Salsify Edible root

Flowers

Self set 2016

Not harvested, will leave to flower, tap root is helping to loosen compacted soil.

Scorzonera Edible root

Flowers

Planted 2014

Seeds saved to be shared and sown soon.  Root not harvested yet.

Skirret Edible root

Flowers

Planted 2014

Not harvested yet, will be digging up and possibly moving later in the year.

Onions (alliums)    
Nodding onion Edible

Flowers

Planted 201

Not harvested, allowing to grow larger.

Allium Mount Everest

 

Edible

Flowers

Planted 2016

Used as decorative species.

Allium nutans (blue chives) Edible

Flowers

Planted 2015

Nibbled (possibly slugs) relocated elsewhere.

Perennial leek Edible Planted 2014

Sent up flower shoot but immature and bulbils did not form.  Move to better soil.

Garlic Edible Planted 2015

All bulbs harvested and some replanted.

Fruit    
Blackcurrant Edible fruit Planted 2013

Young plant, did not fruit.

Cherry ‘Morello’ Edible fruit Planted 2015

Young tree no fruit yet.

Chokeberry Edible fruit Brought from previous garden, planted 2013.  First year of good fruiting.  Fruit left for birds.
Gage ‘Reine Claude de Bavay’ Edible fruit Planted 2015

Young tree no fruit yet.

Gooseberry

Hinomaki red

Edible fruit Planted 2013

Has grown better than the currants and had the first good harvest this year.

Jostaberry Edible Planted 2014

First year of berry production, not harvested as away and birds had them.

June berry Edible berries Planted 2015

Still a young plant, no fruits yet

Mirabelle ‘Ruby’ Edible fruit Planted 2015

Young tree no fruit yet.

Mirabelle ‘Golden Globe’ Edible fruit Planted 2015

Young tree no fruit yet.

Pear ‘Concorde’ Edible fruit Planted 2015

Young tree no fruit yet.

Pear ‘Invincible’ Edible fruit Planted 2015

Young tree no fruit yet.

Quince ‘Vranja’ Edible fruit Planted 2015

Young tree no fruit yet.

Redcurrant Edible fruit Planted 2013

Young plant, had a few berries.

Whitecurrant Edible fruit Planted 2013

Young plant, had a few berries.

Edible greens and herbs  
Bay Culinary herb Planted 2015 as small cuttings, still very small but growing now.
Catmint Herb

Flowers

Planted in 2014
Cardoon Edible leaves and flower buds

Flowers

Planted in 2014.  Keep meaning to harvest leaves in spring, but have not done so yet.
Fennel Culinary and medicinal herb

Flowers

Seeds sown in 2013, recurring / increasing since.

Fantastic for insects, harvested for seeds, blue tits also eat seeds.

Hosta Edible leaf shoots

Attractive plant

Planted 2016
Hyssop Insect plant

Flowers

Planted 2016
Lamb’s lettuce Edible greens

Spring flowers

Self set 2016
Land cress Edible greens

Spring flowers

Originally sown in 2014, has been re-seeding since then.
Lavender Herb

Flowers

Several planted in 2016
Marjoram Culinary herb

Flowers

Planted 2014

Not harvested, has attracted insects and looked lovely.

Mints (various) Culinary herb

Flowers

Several planted in 2016

Some harvests

Rosemary Culinary herb

Flowers

Planted in 2013

Cut back this year as getting too large.

Sweet cicely Culinary herb

Flowers

Planted 2014

Attractive flowers

Thymes Culinary herb

Flowers

Several planted 2016
Wall germander and hedge germander Culinary herb

Flowers

Transplanted from triangle bed in 2016

Attractive flowers

Valerian Medicinal herb

Flowers

Planted in 2016
Wild rocket Edible greens

Flowers

Probably self set one or two years ago.

Not harvested, more in the garden than we need.

Flowering plants    
Agapanthus Flowers Planted 2016
Annual flax Flowers

Seeds

Sown in 2016
Achillea (yarrow), wild Flowers Self set in 2016
Buttercup (creeping) Flowers Already in the garden.  I always pull this up when I see it.
Calendula Flowers Self set 2015
Californian poppy Late spring and summer flowers Self set 2015

 

Christmas rose Winter flowers Planted 2016
Clove root Wild flower Already in the garden.  I always pull this up when I see it.
Crocus Spring flowers Planted 2016
Cyclamen Autumn flowers Planted 2016
Daffodil Spring flowers

 

Planted 2014

Attractive flowers

Dandelion Wild flower Here already
Day lily Edible flowers Planted 2014

Not harvested

Forget me nots Spring flowers

 

Self set 2015

Attractive flowers

Herb Robert Wild flower Already present in the garden.  I allow it to roam for a bit and then pull it up.
Nasturtium Flowers Sown in 2016
Nettle Edible leaves Already in garden.  I pull it up from this border.
Nigella (love in a mist) Flowers

Edible spice

Self sown from previous years
Penstemon Flowers Planted 2016
Polemium Flowers Planted 2014
Radish Edible plant but grown for its flowers Self sown from elsewhere in the garden in 2015/6.
Rose x 2 Flowers

 

2 plants brought from previous garden planted 2014, another added the same year
Sage Culinary and medicinal herb

Flowers

Planted 2016
Self heal Medicinal herb

Flowers

Transplanted in 2014 from elsewhere in garden
Vetch Wild flower

Nitrogen fixer

Wild gathered seeds sown previously.  Very attractive flowers.
White clover Flowers

Nitrogen fixer

Present in garden before I arrived.
Willow herb Wild flower Present in the garden before I arrived.  I usually pull this out before it sets seed.
Others    
Acer Small decorative tree relocated from previous garden Planted 2013

Growing very slowly, looks attractive

Dock Wild plant

Tap root to break up stony soil

Leaves for accumulating nutrients

Here already

Leaves pulled when too large / encroaching on other plants and mulched on bed

Mustard Green manure

Spring flowers

Sown in 2015

Left to set seed, seeds harvested

Field beans Edible beans

Nitrogen fixer

Sown in 2015 from previous crop of beans.
Tulbaghia Similar to onion but different family, edible

Flowers

Planted 2015

Assessment

Harvests

There has been a continual potential harvest of edible greens from this bed that I have largely ignored.  In the spring there were young leaves of land cress, lamb’s lettuce and wild rocket which I did harvest for salads, but later land cress and wild rocket both of which I can cook if they are too strong went largely unharvested.

Herbs, mainly mints and thymes were harvested once the plants were large enough.

The fruit trees are young yet and are performing differently in response to the ‘small fruit tree method’ I am using.  However most of them are developing what look like fruiting spur side shoots so I hope that they will start to flower and possibly fruit next year.

The chokeberry flowered and fruited well for the first time, but I left the berries for the birds.

The red and whitecurrants and gooseberry began to fruit, the gooseberry had a good crop and the blackcurrant and jostaberries may fruit next year.

I have had some Jerusalem artichokes and there will be more to harvest in due course.

Other plants that could be harvested are being left in place, oca for ground cover, earth nut pea as it breaks when I try to dig it up.

I have had some salsify roots, but again these break because of the stony ground.

There have been lots of seeds harvested including calendula, flax and nigella, fennel, earth nut pea, parsnip, Californian poppy, vetch and burdock.

Garlic grows to a good size along the edge of the path.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

the remains of the chicory plant in flower

Fertility

Because the soil is yet largely unimproved and was quite poor to begin with (compacted clay and stones) the fertility in this bed is significantly less than in the main polyculture beds (yet to be reviewed).  I moved some plants earlier in the year and they (tree onions, Welsh onions and other alliums) have grown much faster and larger once transplanted elsewhere.

I have been trying to grow large plants for biomass to add organic matter to the soil.  Jerusalem artichoke and cardoon have done that job well.  Chicory was also good at generating biomass, but was too good, got too large and been cut right back.  I wasn’t able to dig the whole root out.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Californian poppy with vetch climbing cherry tree behind, summer 2016

There are permanent nitrogen fixers in place – earth nut pea, vetch and white clover but I could perhaps include some more; peas don’t grow that well in this border but field beans do.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Salsify flower with land cress and forget me not behind

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Salsify flower and seed head

Flowers and biodiversity

The flowers of calendula, flax, Californian poppy, sweet cicely, marjoram, sage, thyme, valerian, salsify, scorzonera, skirret and burdock all attracted masses of insects, but the fennel was as in previous years an absolute insect paradise.  It also then provided and continues to provide seeds for blue tits.

dscn6504-fennel-and-carrot

Fennel and carrot in long border summer 2014

I have found plenty of beetles and spiders on the ground and one or two amphibians (I didn’t count, but I think one frog, one toad).  There is no surface water nearby apart from puddles but the ground is often damp and there is plenty of mulch to hide beneath.

I have seen snails but they have not been a problem, I have barely noticed any slugs at all in this bed.

Aesthetics

There have been flowers from spring when the land cress, sweet cicely and forget me nots flowered and there are still flowers now in mid November.  Some of them have been absolutely magical.  I am hoping to enhance this by planting lots of white flowering plants the end near our lounge.  Some other flowering plants have been moved to increase their visual impact.  In addition I may decide to sow some more carrots next spring for flowers in 2018.

This picture was from last summer and is something I would dearly be able to bring together again – nature did it for me on that occasion!

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Love in a mist seed heads, calendula and Tulbaghia 2015

 

 

Posted in Borderland Garden, Forest Gardening, Perennial Vegetables, Polycultures, Seeds and seed saving | Tagged , | 3 Comments