Today, Jude at Travel Words wants to see examples of edible orange. And just in case you think that only the bumble bees are enjoying my allotment nasturtiums, I have to confess I’ve lately been chomping the flowers whenever I go gardening. At the moment there’s a huge flock of them on the bed where I had broad beans earlier this summer. I’ve no idea how they got there (interspersed with pot marigolds) but they are making a colourful show, and their late arrival (seasonally speaking) means they have escaped depredations from cabbage white caterpillars and aphids.
The flowers are crisp, cool and peppery, and excellent added to salads along with their leaves. The seed heads are also edible, but due to their stronger flavour are perhaps better pickled than eaten ‘neat’.
The garden nasturtium has been much studied for medicinal benefits, and you can see some of the findings in the research paper HERE. This is a quote from the abstract:
The flowers and other parts of the garden nasturtium are a good source of micro elements such as potassium, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium, and macro elements, especially of zinc, copper and iron. The essential oil, the extract from the flowers and leaves, and the compounds isolated from these elements have antimicrobial, antifungal, hypotensive, expectorant and anticancer effects. Antioxidant activity of extracts from garden nasturtium is an effect of its high content of compounds such as anthocyanins, polyphenols and vitamin C.
I shall thus keep chomping until the frost finishes the present crop. Meanwhile, too, the flowers are still available for any late-hibernating bee in need of a pollen fix.
It comes with added red tailed bee bum, and so the mystery is revealed…a globe artichoke flower, or rather an artichoke inflorescence since each part is an individual small flower. There were several valiant stabs at it, but Jude and Izzie were the first to guess correctly.
One single corn poppy amongst the barley in Townsend Meadow, and snug inside a fast-asleep bee. And what cosier spot, dappled late-day sun through gauzy drapes, the gentle swish of barley all around. I wanted to curl up inside there too, and dream whatever it is bees dream. Sad to say my curiosity got the better of me. After I took this shot, I gave the poppy stem a gentle nudge – just to be sure the bee was sleeping not dying – and off it zoomed. So sorry, bee, for spoiling your siesta.
The wayward Polar Vortex has apparently been behind the recent frigid weather events in the northern hemisphere. But at last there’s been a shift in the UK: from locked-down locked-in C minuses to double-figure plus. Even so, it’s hardly warm and the garden, though defrosted, looks as if it’s been shot-blasted. And so to encourage it and me into thoughts of spring, I’m posting this very exuberant sunflower. Soon be time to sow some seeds for this year’s crop.
In the meantime I’m wondering if the Dyer’s Chamomile in the guerrilla garden over the garden fence will have survived the cold. It made such a show a couple of years ago, though I remember when I sowed it, the packet described it as a short-lived perennial. I’m thinking a fresh sowing won’t hurt. There are times when you can’t have too much yellow.
Over the garden fence: Dyer’s Chamomile and Townsend Meadow under wheat
I’ve written lots about bees on this blog, and I guess most people who come here know how important they are to human existence; their overall busy bee-ness and the way they pollinate flowers that produce so much of our fruit, nuts and veg. So to celebrate bees here’s a gallery of snaps taken in the garden and up at the allotment. All, with the exception of the blue cornflower shot taken last month, are from the archive. At the moment the bees are zooming round too fast to have their pictures taken. Anyway more power to their pollinating…
Without a doubt July’s stars in the-garden-over-the-fence are the Dyer’s Chamomile daisies, also known as Golden Marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria). They have flowered and flowered for weeks now, spilling out on to field path behind the house, tumbling into the garden through the fence. So much gold from a small packet of seeds bought from Jekka’s Herb Farm.
In fact some of you may remember that back in the winter I was worried about the plants’ survival. Some started flowering late last autumn and were still going in December. I was afraid that after such an untimely show, they would keel over and die. I needn’t have worried. I think they have magic powers, though they do have their foibles. For one thing, they are not early risers, and if you catch them too soon in the day, they will not be properly dressed. Each night as the sun goes down they fold back their petals, tight to the stem so they look like a crowd of golden lollipops. Now there’s a thought to ponder on. It makes me wonder if they do this to attract particular night-time pollinators.
And talking of pollinators the garden has been humming with hoverflies, bumbles and honey bees. And now as the month draws to a close, hot on Marguerite’s sunshine heels come Helianthus, Doronicum, Golden Rod, while among them, dots of mauve and purple from Centaurea, Phlox and Drumstick Allium add a touch of flair. What a happy garden. Which of course makes us happy too. So I’m passing it on even though today it is raining here in Shropshire.
Three days ago the World Wildlife Fund and Buglife published their joint report on the state of British bees in the East of England. Their findings were based on the monitoring work of research institutions across a region whose great range of habitats make it potentially bee-rich territory. Some 228 species were included in the study.
And the conclusions:
• 25 species (11%) threatened
• 17 species (7%) regionally extinct
• 31 species (14%) of conservation concern
And the reasons? Climate change, habitat loss, pollution, disease and agricultural pesticides of the neonicotinoid variety (now banned by the EU). The report gives a county by county list of lost species, the ones most affected being solitary and rare species that occupy very specific wildlife niches: e.g. coastal dunes, heaths, woods, wetlands and brownfield sites such as old quarries and gravel pits. But it is not all bad news. At least that is to say there has been an increase in common food pollinating bee species – possibly a result of the more extensive growing of oil seed rape and efforts by farmers to create field margins to support bee populations.
For anyone interested in bees the report is packed with species specific information and excellent photos, and outlines many practical strategies for re-establishing lost diversity and habitat. In other words WE CAN DO SOMETHING.
Talking of which, my bee photos were taken yesterday morning, the first of the year, and out in the guerrilla garden on the field margin, where I have planted (among other things) verbascum grown from seed a couple of years ago. It is such a stately plant and comes in many colours (common name mullein). Certainly this particular little bumblebee (red-tailed, male?) seemed very excited by the newly opening flowers.