Monday, 8 August 2011

Sunshine, seeds, birds and bees

Proper summer this week! There was an air of exhaustion at the pottery as everyone had worked so hard to make the garden party a success, but the warmth of the sun helped us all to relax and lovely comments from our customers made us think the extra hours of toil worthwhile. We left the bunting up for a little while because it made the place look so jolly.
The entrance to Whichford Pottery's garden with added bunting

Convolvulus sabatius capturing filigree shadows
Sun spots in pots
The sun constantly makes me rediscover certain plants, whether in the crispness of shadow and clarity of colour it brings or in the effects of light filtered through foliage or through translucent petals.
Of course having plants in pots means that you can move them around to find exactly the right place for your lighting effects - and as the plants are raised up you can look closely at, or through, them.
The sun lights up Agrostis nebulosa

Anagallis monelli like stained glass in the evening.
 Warm sun has already brought us crowds of butterflies and in the last few days the number of happy bees and hoverflies humming contentedly among the flowers has been really noticeable.

Happy honey bee on Helianthus 'Pacino'

Bumble bee (Bombus terrestris?) on Agastache. It was tempting to try stroking it!
Poisonous aliens 
As we stagger into late summer deadheading becomes more and more important to keep the show going, but some plants produce seedheads that are decorative features in themselves. Notoriously poisonous, Ricinus produces spiky alien-looking seed capsules and the blue grey one which I grew from seed this year is looking particularly fine.

Ricinus forming its odd, spiny seed capsules, with the Octagon in the background
Seed collection commences
I allow some plants to go right ahead and form seeds. Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens' is ripening now and hot, dry days are the best for collecting its seed, which normally hangs on like grim death until your back is turned, at which point it falls out and you only notice it when it crunches underfoot.
Looking a bit tired now but producing lots of seed

Shake the seeds into a labelled paper bag .
 I shake the ripe seedheads into a labelled paper bag; it is very important to add the year of collection so that you don't end up with a stockpile of seed of indeterminate age and waste time and compost sowing long-dead seed. Store them somewhere cool and dry. It not only saves me money but also gives me a sense of satisfaction and continuity.

Strictly for the birds
Some seeds are attractive to the birds - I didn't realise that Geranium phaeum was an example of this until I saw a male bullfinch early on Thursday morning hovering like a hummingbird in order to extract the seeds. The more it eats the better as far as I'm concerned because this plant can be a bit of a weed.
Sadly I wasn't quick enough to get a picture of the bullfinch but I did have my camera to hand when a chain of young long-tailed tits was flitting about in one of our field maples:

Young long-tailed tit in a field maple at Whichford Pottery

Lilium 'Mona Lisa' in evening sunshine
I'll leave you with a picture of Lilium 'Mona Lisa', which has been spreading its glamorous scent in the warm air this week. We had a staff barbecue on Wednesday night, a lovely warm, relaxing evening. The company, food and drink were delightful but I did have to take five minutes for a few evening garden pictures... We saw some shooting stars later but by that time I had abandoned my camera in order to pay my drink more attention!


  1. Gorgeous photos, Harriet! Loved the Ricinus and, with the direction of the light, the colors of the Anagallis monelli really did make it look like stained glass. Glad to hear the garden party was a success, too!


    Joe Valentine

  2. Thank you very much, Joe, I'm glad you liked them. Shame you couldn't be over here for the garden party. You should experience a bit of Whichford summer!