• The Blooming Old Gardener

I Almost Wish We Were Butterflies

“I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days – three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.” — John Keats

Well, whether you want to be a butterfly or not, you have until the 8th August to take part in the Big Butterfly Count. This just means spending 15 minutes in a sunny spot, like the Bloomers Garden, and recording which species of butterflies you see. Then go to www.bigbutterflycount.org to submit what you have seen. There’s a chart available if you don’t know your butterflies.

I don’t know about you, but I am seeing a lot of what I call ‘cabbage white’ butterflies in my garden. Each evening I go round my cabbages to look for any eggs that they have laid. They are being a real nuisance as they are attacking my winter seedlings, helped by slugs of course. Anyway, after getting the chart for my Great Butterfly Watch could identify the butterflies that I was seeing, I found that my ‘cabbage white’ could be large white, small white or green veined white. The problem is that they don’t keep still long enough for me to identify which one they are.

The heat during July has meant our amazing volunteer watering teams have been very active. There’s been lots of weeding too. We have created a place to put unwanted weeds now, as many volunteers aren’t able to take them away. The weeds can be collected by Tim who mows the grass, or by anyone else who has a bin at home.

The rockery plants are becoming established. There is now a sign asking people not to climb on the rockery as rocks were moving about and plants being crushed. It was becoming a popular replacement for dinosaur world and looked good covered with them. But it isn’t made for anything heavier than a model dinosaur to walk on.

In the veg garden, broad beans, blackcurrants, Japanese wineberries, rhubarb, courgettes and gooseberries are being picked. The tomatoes will be ready soon too, so need feeding every week now. The potato plants and Jerusalem artichokes are growing well. The raised beds are full of herbs, so feel free to take pieces when you are passing.


In the flowery areas, we have added another salvia, a pink one called Misty. I love salvias and so do the bees. So we now have three of different colours. Claire loves the way they smell. I think it’s a bit like blackcurrants when you rub against them or are pruning. We all love our sunflowers too. They were sown quite late, but hopefully they will be in flower for August. The sides of the hanging baskets are slowly getting covered by sempervivems. This is a long term project and I love checking on them, counting the number of ‘chicks’ growing out from the ‘hen’.

As it's the Summer the garden is being used more, by people of all ages. We have activities for young kids like the mud kitchen and the play table. Plants for everyone to look at. Noughts and crosses (our version is spiders and butterflies) to play. And of course, the bench to sit on and watch the world go by. We are hoping to get a picnic bench and seating soon, which will be great for visitors to use in their lunch breaks.


My Romani recipe this month is for using up your nasturtium seeds once the flowers have finished. Pick them off the plants when they are fat and green. Pack them into a sterilised jar. Then pour over boiled apple cider vinegar. After a few weeks you will have something like pickled capers to serve with cold meats. It’s not one I have tried, so let me know what they are like if you have a go.


The Blooming Old Gardener

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