ju1i3's blog

bees - June 2019

I happened to be standing in the right place at the right time this morning to get a shot of a bee on one of my knautia macedonia Melton Pastels - one of my most successful flowers grown from seed, lots of flowers over the last few years, self-seeding and beloved by bees.

knautia macedonia with bee

the bees are loving this allium christophii

allium christophii with bee

I love seeing the bees go into the foxgloves

foxglove with bee


I thought this self-seeded echium was vulgare, ie viper's bugloss but as it's developed it seems to be echium Blue Bedder.

echium Blue Bedder

some of this year's echium Blue Bedder

echium Blue Bedder

Chinese lanterns I grew from seed for a friend but not sure they even have a balcony now so will plant them in my garden. My Chinese lanterns suffered vey badly in the drought and heatwave last summer so they could do with some replenishment. They have pretty insignificant white flowers.

chinese lantern

this salvia Black and Blue has been badly damaged by slugs but there is a little left of it and it even has some buds

salvia black and blue

the fox-and-cubs have surprised me by blooming after I potted up some of the runners and then planted them, for a while I despaired of having any fox-and-cubs flowers again


this meadow cranesbill is finally blooming after I grew some from seed a few years ago, only got a few plants and they've been slow to flower but I finally this one is flowering

meadow cranesbill

to the right of the cranesbill, a foxglove and to the right of that, snapdragons, lesser knapweed to the right and behind and a white flower in the back I have no idea what it is - will check it out later

meadow cranesbill

more lesser knapweed buds

lesser knapweed buds

close-up of the lupin flowers - and a bee

lupins with bee

a couple of bees on the nepeta flowers

nepeta with bees

fox-and-cubs in buds


tangerine sage buds

tangerine sage buds

monkshood buds

monkshood buds

delphinium in bloom


meadow cranesbill in bloom in back garden

meadow cranesbill

the lupins had multiple flower spikes but seem to be coming to an end


then I noticed some fresh flower spikes: one left, one centre and one right with buds half open

lupin fresh buds flower spikes

the fox-and-cubs is in bloom



bees are back on the green alkanet, after the rain, I guess they will eventually go to the fox-and-cubs

fox-and-cubs green alkanet with bee

and after the rain stopped and the bees could fly again, a bee on a knautia maceonia Melton Pastels

knautia macedonia Melton Pastels

and one in bud

knautia macedonia Melton Pastels buds

bees - late May 2019

Now here is a flower that attracts bees!

tulip tree flower with bees

I saw this tulip tree while walking through Regent's Park (Avenue Gardens) and looking into a flower, totally unexpectedly saw lots of bees. I had no idea bees were so attracted to tulip tree flowers.

tulip tree flower with bees

tulip tree flower with bees

There is a whole row of tulip trees on the west side of Avenue Gardens. I'm not sure if there's a corresponding row on the other side. Next time I'll walk down that side.

tulip tree

tulip tree leaves and flower

tulip tree

I am so happy to have some bees in my garden - and a few flowers they are visiting. These red / corn /field poppies have self-sown from original "wildflower" plants from the garden centre after seeds were a great failure. Some wildflowers work from seeds and some don't.

field red corn poppy with bee

red field corn poppy with bee

red field corn poppy with bee

the bees are loving the lupins, my photo ended up showing the bee hovering there, I wasn't fast enough to get the photo with it on the flower, I also saw it go up into a foxglove but couldn't get a photo sadly

lupin with bee

the lupins are doing well, surprisingly; a couple of others are destroyed by slugs

I am heartbroken the slugs / snails have destroyed my sea holly. They love sea holly, that's why the plants are in pots. The slugs / snails have eaten the flowering stem which I've circled. That's it for this year. I grew those sea holly from seed two years ago. I give in - I am buying 2 replacements from the garden centre!

slug-eaten sea hollies

The slugs / snails have also aggressively eaten the borage, a plant not usually suffering from slug damage.

slug eaten borage

blackcurrant sage with bee

blackcurrant sage with bee

it's challenging to capture the bees in focus, although this is out of focus it looks like there's a pollen basket on this one

blackcurrant sage with bee

The knautia macedonica have just started to bloom and the bees are all over them. I should be able to get one photo today - that will be my challenge.

latest flowers in bloom

lots of flowers are blooming, in addition to the green alkanet

allium Purple Sensation with a bee

allium with bee

allium with bee

there is a bee on the peachy snapdragons on the left, although admittedly a bit small to see, all of the snapdragons here self-seeded as did the violas


bee on the left in this shot, perhaps slightly easier to see


red poppies in the front garden, ox-eye daisies in the background

red corn field poppies

red poppies in the back garden

red corn field poppies

first foxglove in bloom


more foxgloves in the front, they seem to grow to fit their situation, these didn't have much room in this pot so they're smaller


the rose has masses of flowers now (Young Lycidas?, I think, I didn't keep track so well of my plants when I bought it about 15 years ago)


few days later, first knautica in bloom in addition to the foxglove and roses


wider view of all those roses


two of my cats, with my messy patio - I have lots of containers of water - for plants and animals, the cats like to drink from them, no doubt the foxes as well

another cat

I always have violas self-seeding everywhere, this beautiful "black" (very dark purple) one appeared in a pot

black viola

I love buds, especially fat bursting ones, this purple aquilegia one was such a beautiful colour I wanted to take a photo, I didn't even notice the bugs (aphids?) until I was processing the photos at my pc.


a purple aquilegia in bloom, I have aquilegias popping up all over the garden, front and back, amidst the green alkanet


few more centaurea montana flowers but I think they're coming to an end, sadly

centaurea montana

In addition to the rose above in my main flowerbed, I have this rosa rugosa in the front garden, blooming away with the minium of fuss, sometimes forgotten about. It was here when I moved in - it deserves more attention!

rosa rugosa

rosa rugosa flower close-up

also in the front garden, lesser knapweed, first iris foetidissima flowers in the background to the right

lesser knapweed

more sun in the front to help those iris bloom whereas in the back garden they are only in bud

iris foetidissima buds

first passionflower in bloom - and lots of buds


my front garden mid-May 2019

My previous post was all photos of my back garden, today they're all from my front garden.

honesty seed pods / "coins"

honesty seed pods coins

field / corn / red poppy, I did try to grow these from seed  but it proved impossible, these are from small "wildflower" plants the garden centre sells for a short time in spring, these have done well, they've self-seeded from the plants I bought last year

corn field red poppy

greater knapweed is another plant that is difficult from seed but this may be the one plant I got from a packet of seeds or maybe one of those small plants from the garden centre, anyway, I only have the one plant currently

greater knapweed

so when I saw these are the garden centre in the "wildflower" range, I bought another greater knapweed, the slugs almost destroyed it so I was holding off putting it in the ground, not sure how to protect it

greater knapweed



allium, christophii I think


my cat Polly Pocket with another allium

My Cats in My Garden

Scarecrow and Victor, that gorgeous ceanothus in the background, white-flowered tree to the right, makes a nice combination

Victor on the table I've been working hard to clear with some seedlings, so there's room for cats

Scarecrow enjoying the space on the table

the cats are competing for this position in the flowerbed, one of the few places in the garden free for them to sit / sleep, foxglove buds to the left

centaurea montana, Victor in the background

the day before, before the centaurea montana was fully open

allium Purple Sensation with Jeffrey in the favourite spot in the flowerbed in the background

Jeffrey in "the" position, hovcrfly in front

self-seeded echium Blue Bedder in the garden next door I look after, why couldn't more have self-seeded ? my seedlings suffered from damping-off so sadly no new plants this year unless the recently re-sown seeds grow pretty quickly

echium Blue Bedder

I was worried where the bees would feed once the green alkanet is finished and no echium Blue Bedder but I realised the nepeta will be in bloom soon and I have a few good-sized plants, lots of buds (I do so love buds)

nepeta buds

monkshood has buds also

monkshood buds

scabious coming into flower



some fat, numerous buds of creeping thistle nearby

creeping thistle buds

first ranunculus in bloom


Bees and Auriculas


I am so glad I have some bees in my garden, perhaps not that many, but some at least. I don't know much about different kinds of bees but saw some interesting ones today, must find out more about them.  This bee on the green alkanet looked quite red but it was rather difficult to get a closer shot than this.

bee on green alkanet

A black bee on honesty, which has turned out to be a real bee magnet. I don't recall ever seeing a black bee before.

black bee on honesty

black bee on honesty

there seem to be some white bits

black bee on honesty

A different kind of bee on green alkanet. I always notice things on my pc while looking at my photos which I didn't notice in the garden, what is that insect at the top? what is that plant top right in the background? I don't even recognise it. I think it's the same bee in the next three pics.

bee on green alkanet

bee on green alkanet

another shot of that bee, not the greatest but hopefully enough for identification

bee on green alkanet

I saw another bee with huge pollen baskets but could not get a shot in focus.



Some of my auriculas are in bloom so it's time (past time) to think about their display but the auricula theatre idea is not going to plan. This one which I bought recently (this winter/spring?) is the perfect size. I love the colour. They don't have many for sale at my local garden centre but they had a few of these.


the auriculas which are blooming but they are too big for the classic size as the one above for a theatre-type display


the one on the left below, I dislike the colour, the ones on the right have no buds, hopefully the one in the middle will be an acceptable colour but it's also too big


all my auriculas, divide some I guess, feed the non-blooming ones? Auriculas can be a lot of work!



The globe thistles will take over if I left them. I moved them all out of this flowerbed but I see there are a few more. I find it difficult to move plants but I need to make the effort.

I've moved the globe thistles, leaving my beloved centaurea montana. I see a few self-seeded fox and cubs which I originally bought as small plants in the "wildflower" section but they didn't have a chance because they were shaded over by other plants. I'd also banished the green alkanet - just from this small area - and they are encroaching as well. After they flower I'll deal with those.

fox and cubs seedlings

fox and cub seedling

fox and cubs seedlings

the fox and cubs had self-seeded in a pot and produced runners which I only noticed recently when I've been trying to tidy up the pots on the patio

fox and cubs runners

I've potted them up and I'll see how they do. Which will bloom first, these or the ones in the flowerbed?

fox and cubs runners potted up

this is why it's so difficult to see everything but I am trying to sort them out

I found the hyssop in there, stripped by slugs, but it's coming back now. It has some leaves. I grew these last year from seeds I bought in Seoul.


Easter 2019

bee on green alkanet

green alkanet bee

there is green alkanet all over my back garden and I love it! the bees love it, it will die back in time for other plants to take over

green alkanet

my monster honesty is at it's peak and also attracting bees


I was trying to organise my pots and water every one in this dry weather and I see the stem of that honesty is enormous at the base. I'm wondering when it started. It looks like it's been growing for a while, I guess since last year at some point. That's why it's managed to get so big.

my comfrey is in bud

comfrey in bud

just to the left of the comfrey I saw Victor in the shade near the fence, the gap in the fence is convenient to the foxes who come and go through it into my garden

at one point he'd been laying in the sun, I guess it got too hot, one of my sea holly plants next to him and nepeta to the left

I see Scarecrow has gone next door to lay in that space which I just cleared by pruning the cherry laurel. That huge stump to the left is left from it being cut down. As no one else pruned the shoots back I thought I better before it gets to huge tree proportions again. I asked my neighbour first so he wouldn't freak out at me being in "his" garden. He said "ok" - he has his moments.  

at one point he went amongst the pots to find some catnip (he is in the middle)

this shows him more clearly with at lease 3 pots of catnip (nepeta) visible

I got on the stepladder to water the seedlings and check the plants on top of the greenhouse

while up there I discovered Scarecrow under the honeysuckle

I also saw the anemone or ranunculus has buds (I always get the two confused - I'll have to check last year's photos and see if I can establish what this is). One pot is looking good the plants in the other pot has been stripped by slugs before I got it off the ground and hopefully away from the worst of the slug damage.

Polly Pocket was attracted to it as well but she was too shy to come all the way down so I put a pot of catnip on the stairs for her.


The only place I've seen pink-sorrel is a walled cemetary in east London. It's formed a perfect dome .


Looking inside the dome, one can see why. All the stems are unbranched and grow directly from the ground.

pink-sorrel inside dome

Pink-sorrel flower close-up


in the cemetary was also Oxford ragwort

oxford ragwort

also there I saw veronica arvensis, only the second time I've seen this, the flowers are tiny

veronica arvensis

veronica arvensis flower close up

middle of April 2019

It is cold! so it's been difficult to do much in the garden but yesterday I started to do a bit and after working for a while I warmed up. I just had to pot up the last nepeta and that led to repotting some other things.

I grew scabious Perfection Blue from seed last year. I got 5 plants from the packet of seeds (not terribly impressive) and they've been in pots since. These three highlight what happens to pots in my garden. They are invaded by self-seeders. Left, a large verbascum rosette has taken over. Two on the right, snapdragons which I like but they can't take over my scabious. There are violas there as well but hoping they are small enough to co-exist.

scabious Perfection Blue

I repotted each of those (and the two others in pots of their own. I left the violas with them.

The pots are so large, I put the nepeta (new from Peter Nyssen) in with the scabious and another nepeta I had. It's small so I guess it's a nepeta cataria (catnip) I grew from seed but I'm not absolutely certain.

scabious pot

In that pot behind, there's also scabious from the garden centre last year. I buy whatever I can in the "wildflower" range and last year they had small scabious and scabious columbaria? Thought they were selling them as two different plants. I'll have to check. Anyway that pot is full of scabious. To the left another large pot with a nepeta fassennii from last year. In the back, the beginning of the globe thistles on the right and in the centre a self-seeded veronica which also got a globe thistles - they will take over given half a chance but the bees so love them so I try to accommodate them in my garden, as many as I can. One of my more successful plants grown from seed. 


this is the sunniest part of my garden so I cram in as many pots as I can on the patio

that honesty is amazing, the stem is so thick - and a gorgeous colour

honesty and orange tulips

One my my hostas, in pots, shoots just showing. Of course, the pot is also being taking over my self-seeders, in this case forget-me-nots.


Further back in the garden, the left flowerbed which I've tried to keep clear for other things but the green alkanet is encroaching and a foxglove has made itself at home. A few centaurea montana are left - the main plants I planted. I see another two globe thistles have self-seeded. I must move them or they'll take over.

further along the back garden on the left,

that same section of the garden facing the fence

facing the back of the garden, taken over by green alkanet at this time of year

beginning of April 2019

Red tulips left from last year. Behind on the left, monkshood - amazingly surviving from last year. I've had it before but it didn't survive.

red tulips

The honesty just starting to bloom, tulips from last year amazingly blooming (I don't find bulbs last too long), in the background lots of green alkanet, self-seeded violas and snapdragons.

a few days before when the honesty was just in bud, amazing thick stem of an honesty on the left, parrot tulips on the right, Professor Rontgen I think

snakeshead fritillary

snakeshead fritilary

I found my ranunuclus corms. It's a bit late I think to start them but hopefully they'll catch up and bloom at some point this summer.

ranunculus corms


another shot of that amazing honesty

I always love having pots of nepeta, as do the cats. Some nepeta left from last year are looking good but there are two fresh ones I just potted up (from Peter Nyssen, a bargain at 3 for £5.40 (I think)). My cat Scarecrow.

Notes on Identification

It's the time of year when things are starting to grow and it may be unclear what's what. Self-seeders green alkanet, comfrey and foxglove are all quite similar at an early stage. Add to that lesser knapweed, centaurea montana and it can get quite confusing. On the right with the longer leaves is comfrey. I know because it was there last year and the leaves are longer than green alkanet. On the left and behind to the right is green alkanet.

comfrey vs green alkanet

On the right green alkanet, especially easy with the blue flowers in bloom, foxglove in the middle at the back and centaurea montana at the front, large clump to the left and small clump to the right.

lesser knapweed in this pot with a few centaurea montana in the front

lesser knapweed centaurea montana

Bluebells and hyacinths can get mixed up but by April 1st all the hyacinths are in bloom or have finished blooming. The hyacinths below are not great plants as they were previously forced and I only just planted them out.  In the foreground below is a bluebell, not in bloom or even bud yet. It's one that got away, I've dug them all up from my garden as they formed huge clumps and got in the way of other things growing.

hyacinths vs bluebells

My neighbour has bluebells and in their garden, amongst the annual mercury and dandelions, they look nice. The leaves are longer and thinner than hyacinths.



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