Six on Saturday: 15 June 2021: busy as a bee

The garden’s had a good drink, as it’s rained quite heavily over the last few days, and it looks much refreshed for it. The risk of frost is almost certainly past now, so there’s planting out to do. Larkspur and Coreopsis seedlings have gone out, sweet peppers have been potted up into big pots, and I’ve planted Calabrese broccoli in the veg patch, plus the odd remaining tomato plant, I’ve pruned the forsythia and contemplated its utter destruction again and thought about replacing it with an Elder (Sambucus)…it’s time to be as busy as a bee, speaking of which, and onto my first item for this week’s six:

1 Honey bee swarm. Our neighbour keeps a hive on her shed roof, but things were probably getting overcrowded for them, so some of them decided to up sticks last Sunday. Their first port of call was our apple tree, where they swarmed in preparation for going out to find a new home. Before they got the chance, the local beekeeping network was alerted and someone came to collect them to make a new hive. I would like to keep bees one day.

2 The last of the tulips. What a wonderful display it was this year, they all did so well both in pots and in the border. All good things come to an end however, as you can see in my deadheading bucket! What to do with the tulips now is always the question: many in the border have been left in situ, hoping they’ll return next year, but others have been dug out to make space for other plants and chucked into plastic pots and put out of the way. I’m not quite sure I can bring myself to treat Tulips as ‘annuals’ and throw them all out.

3 Oh wait, there’s still Tulipa clusiana ‘Peppermint-stick’. This was the very last to flower for me this year, a bit strange as I thought they were supposed to be early. They are very different to the big and bold Tulips above, and they do flop about a bit in their planter, but are really quite lovely, especially when they catch the light. I will plant these in the ground now and hope they come back next year.

4 Clematis alpina. Nearly finished now, the blooms have opened up fully and look to me like they’re doing a can-can dancing routine: “the main features of the dance are the vigorous manipulation of skirts and petticoats, along with high kicks, splits and cartwheels”, if you get the idea. I’ve unfortunately lost the label, so am not sure what variety this is. This is its third season, and it’s really come into its own now.

5 Herbs and violas. Right by the kitchen door, I’ve got a handy collection of herbs in pots, perfectly placed for a quick dash out to grab something to enliven a soup, stir-fry, salad, sandwich, omelette, virtually anything really. You can just spot rosemary, curly parsley and one of my mints in the photo, and I think these violas match them perfectly, with a grassy Carex in the big pot behind them. The second photo is my mother’s day gift (it was last Sunday in Belgium): lemon thyme, lemon verbena, a flowering nasturtium Alaska, and two pots of French tarragon. The verbena is a new herb for me to grow, I’ll put it in a pot and use the leaves to make a citrusy, uplifting herbal tea.

6 Matteuccia struthiopteris, the shuttlecock fern. This fern is naturalised in the garden, and there’s a large patch of it under the arch by the glade. It’s at its freshest and best now. It produces many, many baby plants, which I lift and relocate, or give to friends. It’s an accommodating and handsome fern, growing happily in sun or shade, moist or dry soil.

Well, it’s a splendid time of year in these parts, full of lush green growth and life. Thank you all for reading, and if you fancy a peek at more gardens, as ever you can visit the Propagator’s Six on Saturday page. Have a lovely weekend everyone, I’ve got lots of planting to do, so I’d better get on with it!

33 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: 15 June 2021: busy as a bee

  1. It’s so nice to see that all your plants are doing well. The Clematis alpina is a real beauty.
    Thanks for the video of the bee swarm. Maybe this can become your first hive. At least you have a bee specialist on your side to help you keeping bees. 🙂

  2. Wow ! These clematis flowers are gorgeous.. so many thin petals….
    I also liked the fern corner. I don’t have many here. Not enough shade available … everything is already full under the trees which in addition don’t allow the rain to reach the ground as they are dense

  3. And you have your fist nasturtium in flower. I too love herbs, and add both the flowers and leaves to mixed salads for that little peppery punch, and of course its beauty.

  4. Lovely, lovely and lovely! So interesting to see the bee swarm, they are fabulous creatures aren’t they. I think I might have fallen a little bit in love with Peppermint Stick.

  5. The herb pots by the back door is a good idea. Although mine aren’t far away it’s still a nuisance to get them if it’s raining or I have a pan boiling away. The tulip petals look so beautiful even in your deadheading trug. I’m rather envious of your ferny border. They look great.

    1. I have some other herbs slightly further away than the back door, and it seems much more of a hassle to go and get those (shoes required etc.). The ferns seem to like it here.

  6. The green bowl of spent tulips is incredibly lovely. Your herb garden appears to be thriving. I like the idea of including violas under that heading, as I believe you mentioned that the flowers are edible? Your description of the clematis’ show is apt.

    1. Thanks, indeed violas are edible – but the best in my view are viola odorata, which are lovely candied for cake decorations. I’ve sown some seed, let’s see if they appear.

  7. The fern is looking great, Sel. And is that Heuchera marmalade deside it? I love the colour! I don’t think I’d be comfortable seeing swarm of bees. Probably harmless but jives me the jitters.

    1. Our other neighbours, by coincidence also Irish, watched the bee swarm from behind closed bedroom windows – but you understand, I had filming to do! I felt that the bees were too busy doing their life-changing house move to worry about me. The heuchera is H. Caramel, it’s a good ‘un.

  8. Morning Sel – what a wonderful post full of treats for us. Your Shuttlecock ferns are majestic – that’s what I hope mine will look like one day. Plus I love the footage of your swarm – it was mesmerising. I did a beekeeping course once but decided the time wasn’t right for me to try. My hort soc had a zoom presentation from an insect man this week. He gave up beekeeping and has focussed instead on attracting other insect pollinators to his garden – solitary bees etc. It was very interesting as it showed that honey bees are useful but that many other types are better pollinators – of apples for example. Intriguing.

    1. The ferns grow quickly, they look great but you will be pulling them out soon! Pollinators are fascinating, aren’t they? I’ve been reading a bit about bumblebees. I also feel am not quite ready for bee keeping and perhaps it doesn’t make sense to have a hive right next door and one here too. I had read that too many honey bees in the area can be unfair competition for the bumblebees and other pollinators.

  9. The Matteuccia is a great fern, we call it Ostrich Fern. It does spread like mad and I have stopped giving them away – I just cut the ones I don’t want to the ground every few weeks. Just now planted dill, cilantro, mint, and parsley on pots on the back steps. Squirrels or chipmunks immediately made a mess of one of the pots, so I’ve covered them with chicken wire.

    1. Funnily enough I hadn’t thought about just cutting them to the ground, thanks for the tip, it gets a bit much having to dig them up all the time! Hope your herbs grow well, I have trouble getting Dill going even though it’s one of my favourites, it’s so delicate and doesn’t seem to get beyond the seedling stage for me, but I’ve tried again this weekend. Any tips?

  10. What a pretty Clematis that is. And those tulips look so lovely in the tub. I dry mine from pots for a couple of weeks and then put them in a brown paper bag (labelled!) in a cool dry place (my cellar) and replant them in the ground in autumn. They usually do pretty well if the mice don’t find them! Love the ferns. Everything is turning green here now too after all thiis rain. 😃

    1. Thanks Cathy, your tulip storage solution sounds very organised! Perhaps I will try that this year, as I don’t really like seeing ugly plastic, muddy pots around the garden! I found that my other bulbs didn’t store well in the shed, I think it’s too damp, but we also have a cellar so that probably better. All this rain! Just checked the forecast for the week – groan!

      1. Same here Sel! I have been dodging heavy but brief showers all day. The grass will be knee-high before we can cut it again! LOL!

  11. What a beautiful tulip the Peppermint-stick is. I’ve not seen that before. One to investigate and the clematis alpina looks perfect too. I tried storing tulips one year in the garage but I don’t remember if being very successful – I think getting them back in the ground was the challenge. Now I just leave them in and take my chances. I’d love to change our forsythias to elder ‘Black Lace’ – one day!

  12. I loved the short video on the swarming bees! What a pity the tulips have finished flowering. Your bucket full of spent blooms looks lovely and colourful! The shuttlecock fern is looking good. I do like your selection of herbs, and the nasturtium is very pretty.

  13. Quite a number of years ago I got interested in beekeeping when I found an old book at a flea market. But I was a bit transient as a renter so never did . I hope you get the chance.

    You Clematis alpina is lovely and I like the idea of them dancing.

    1. Thanks Steve, I think beekeeping is something that demands a degree of permanence from the keeper, so for that same reason I’ll keep it on hold – but it would be fun to learn all about them – and I gather there’s a lot to learn!

  14. I enjoyed the bee swarm video! 😃 I’ve not seen one that large, whoa. Glad it all worked out for the bees and everyone’s safety. Your Peppermint-stick tulip capture is beautiful, what a stunning last tulip for the grand finale!

    1. Thanks Donna. It was a big old swarm, funnily enough I didn’t feel at all scared, the bees were just really intent on getting on with their business of moving house! They didn’t attack the people who removed them from the tree either 🙂

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