June - in the garden this month
As you enter the nursery site you may notice the flat area which used to be an orchard is now full of ox-eye daisies in full bloom. This is a welcome sight because we have had considerable difficulty here. After the trees had to be removed because of rabbit damage to their trunks, it was decided to turn the area into a wildflower meadow. The turf was stripped and the area seeded with locally sourced wildflower seeds supplemented by seeds collected by hand from around the nursery. Very few of the plants grew, either failing to germinate or establish, or being eaten by marauding rabbits. The process was repeated. Again, it failed. For the third time it was resown and we now have flowers. Though there is not the rich diversity anticipated, it is a start, and it is more likely now that the other species will be able to establish amongst the protection of the daisies. It can only get better.
One striking plant flowering now in the T-beds in the car park is Eremurus, the foxtail lily. It originates from the dry grassland steppes of Asia so requires a bright, open site with sharp drainage. It doesn’t like to be crowded by other plants so takes up a fair bit of space. All of this might explain why it is an uncommon sight in Cornish gardens. It is a curious plant, with a tiny crown surrounded by thick fleshy roots radiating out like spokes close to the surface, looking more like something from the animal kingdom. The leaves shrivel as the flower spike rises in summer. These plants were only planted this spring, so this is their debut performance. Once established this should be a spectacular sight, particularly in combination with the pampas grass behind and the Phlomis russeliana below – a wonderful example of contrasting shapes and texture. This grass is Cortaderia richardii, which unlike other pampas grasses comes from New Zealand where it is known as ToeToe. It is an easy, rewarding and beautiful grass making an evergreen clump of fine green leaves without the scruffy dead material which accumulates at the base of the South American varieties. The flower spikes reach 120 to 150 cm but are not vertical. They arch gracefully outwards, bending low when saturated with rain and rising back up as they dry.
The bumblebee garden is looking particularly lovely at the moment, and full of flowers and pollinators of all sorts. The lavender hedges are in tight bud just waiting to burst. In the wild corner we have a half barrel filled with stones and water. This is invaluable for insects and birds at all times, particularly in the current heatwave. Bees need a water source they can drink safely from without falling in. Here they can land on the stone to drink safely. A shallow dish or saucer filled with gravel or stones and water is ideal for them.