My Wildlife Allotment May 2021

Posted on 03.05.2021 |
Updated on 04.05.2021 |
Added in Tales From My Wildlife Allotment

What a dry and cold spring! We still have lots of frosty nights and hardly any rain. We even had snow a few weeks ago! It was completely unexpected. When I opened the curtains on Monday morning, the 12th of April, all was white outside and it was snowing heavily. The allotment looked like a winter wonderland. Not much gardening could be done but I could at least build a little snow rat who was enjoying the snow much more than I was. By mid-day the sun was so strong that most of the snow had disappeared and the winter wonderland of the morning seemed like a distant dream.

Some unexpected snow

Greengage blossom in the snow

At least the little snow rat enjoys the snow

Plants are only growing very slowly but at least the allotment is starting to look a bit greener. is providing some splashes of colour in the steppe planting and fruit trees are flowering. Because of the frequent frosty nights I have lost quite a lot of the early fruit blossom such as the apricot, peaches (even the peach tree in the greenhouse was hit by frost) and most of the plums such as the greengage. The Morello cherry and apple trees have just started flowering so I am hopeful I will get at least some tree fruit. The medlar and quince will flower in May and normally miss the frosts, so I will probably be making lots of medlar and quince jelly in the autumn.

The allotment is slowly getting greener

Euphorbia epithymoides providing a splash of colour

The new allotment will soon be full of colour

As frosts are frequent I had a lot of opportunities to photograph frosted flowers such as the Euphorbia epithymoides flowers which always look pretty after a frosty night. But somehow frosted plant pictures have now lost their appeal and I am yearning for warmer nights so plants start to grow properly without the threat of being damaged by the icy temperatures. At least my Eremurus plants have not started to produce flowers yet as last year they were too early and I lost all flowers in the sharp mid-May frosts. Some last daffodils are still flowering such as the dainty Narcissus ‘Hawera'. It is quite small and easily lost between larger plants but in the right place it looks very pretty and even has scented flowers. More pasque flowers () are in full flower now. My plants are all from different sources, some bought as plants, others grown from seed. They are all the same species but have quite different flowering times with the earliest starting to flower in mid-March and the latest only starting to flower now, at the end of April. This staggered flowering is quite useful as I have Pulsatilla in flower for quite a long time now.

Frosted Euphorbia epithymoides flowers

Pretty Narcissus ‘Hawera'

More Pulsatilla vulgaris are flowering

The many different tulips I grow don't seem to mind the cold and dry weather. In flower at the moment is Tulipa saxatilis with its large pink flowers. The plants seem to like richer soil which does not dry out too much as the plants on the new allotment which has better soil than the old allotment seem to do best. Also flowering is Tulipa clusiana. I have two different varieties, a yellow and red variety which is called ‘Cynthia' and a red and white variety which is called ‘Peppermint Stick'. Both open their pretty flowers in the sunshine and I've already had people asking me what they are called as they wanted to get some for their garden as well. Little solitary bees also seem to like the flowers as I often see them collecting the pollen.

Tulipa saxatilis

Tulipa clusiana ‘Cynthia'

Tulipa clusiana ‘Peppermint Stick'

Another hardy robust plant which never disappoints is . I started with just one plant which has now self-seeded in a few places. It does not mind dry soil and is happy in the shade under my fruit trees. The large flowers look very pretty when seen close-up and attract bumblebees. Growing in the moist soil at the edge of the pond is Primula rosea which has bright pink flowers. As there is not much else flowering around the pond at the moment apart from some it is nice to have this splash of colour. Another tulip which is providing some colour is Tulipa ‘Ballerina'. This tulip seems to be one of the perennial ones despite not being a species tulip. I planted the bulbs two years ago and they seem to have come back reliably and have even increased in number. I really like the dark orange flowers which have a nice elegant shape.

Lamium orvala does not mind the cold weather

Primula rosea is flowering at the edge of the pond

Tulipa ‘Ballerina'

Despite the cold weather I have seen quite a lot of bees on the allotment as at least most days the sun is shining which makes it warm enough for bees to come out. The first worker bumblebees have appeared which means that at least some bumblebee queens have been successful in starting a colony. I have also seen the pretty two-coloured mason bee (Osmia bicornis) which nests in snail shells. Many other little solitary bees are out as well, building nests in my steppe areas and other places. I have also seen ashy mining bees (Andrena cineraria) and tawny mining bees (Andrena fulva) building nests in the short grass on my paths. The wild tulips are always a favourite with solitary bees; they also like all the fruit blossom. When working in the flower border next to the shed I suddenly heard a noise and when I looked up I could just see two eyes staring at me from the wood pile next to the shed. I had just enough time to grab my camera and take a picture before the little rat disappeared.

Solitary bees love the flowers of Tulipa clusiana

I am being watched!

Ducks visiting the pond

I had some larger visitors to the pond recently. I knew that ducks sometimes come to the pond but normally I never really see them. But one morning I saw three ducks on the neighbouring allotment, heading in the direction of my pond. I hid behind the shed door and was able to watch the ducks coming closer until finally they were all swimming around in the pond, happily sifting the water for algae with their beaks. I have now seen them a few more times.

I hope May will bring some warmer weather, with less cold nights and some rain showers to bring forth the flowers. I will be back with more tales from my allotment next month.

Nadine Mitschunas