Posted on 02.09.2019 |
Updated on 04.09.2019 |
Added in Tales From My Wildlife Allotment

After a short wet spell the dry and sunny weather is back which means more watering for me to do. The allotment is slowly changing to a more autumnal look with seed heads appearing everywhere and the grasses taking centre stage in some places instead of just playing the supporting role. Many summer flowers such as Echinacea have mostly finished flowering now but all the late summer flowers are just coming into their own. I have planted many asters on the allotment, many of which I have grown from seed. Aster amellus ‘Rudolph Goethe' is flowering since the beginning of August but others such as Symphyotrichum novi-belgii and S. novae-angliae are just starting now. Aster lateriflorus ‘Lady in Black' opens its hundreds of small pink flowers sometime in September and flowering even later, often only starting in October, are and Aster tataricus which flower until the first sharp frosts in late November or early December.

The allotment is starting to look autumnal
with the first late asters flowering

This New York aster is already flowering

Grasses are taking centre stage
in some areas of the allotment now

Many grasses look really pretty at the moment, adding some airy lightness and movement to the allotment. I also love grasses because they are so tactile, many are really soft and I often brush my fingers through them when walking past. I cannot recommend doing this with Nasella tenuissima at the moment which is nice and soft in early summer but all I end up with when brushing my fingers through the leaves now is hands full of tiny seeds which stick to my clothes and are very difficult to remove! Nasella is quite invasive on my allotment and I don't need to help it spread around even more. Stipa ichu, which is related to Nasella tenuissima but not invasive, looks especially lovely at the moment with long silvery and very graceful seed heads. Among many other nice grasses I also like , which is supposedly slightly tender but survives winter without problems on my allotment. The spiky flowers of look very distinctive and stand out from the other grasses. Panicum virgatum, a pretty prairie grass, is flowering now as well.

Stipa ichu, a beautiful grass

Panicum virgatum

Pennisetum macrourum growing with Hystrix patula

The new allotment is still very colourful with Rudbeckia laciniata, and in full flower. In the South Africa garden a very special plant has started flowering now. I have grown it from seed in autumn last year and was very much looking forward to seeing it flower. This plant is with large white daisy flowers and very prickly leaves. When not in flower you could be forgiven in thinking this plant is just some common thistle, but once the large flowers open it looks quite spectacular. I love it and pollinators such as bees and flies like the flowers as well. Like most Berkheyas the plants need an open position with sunshine and well-drained relatively rich soil which does not dry out completely in summer. The South Africa garden seems to suit it well.

The new allotment with
Cosmos, Verbena, Liatris and Rudbeckia flowering

Berkheya cirsiifolia is flowering at the moment

The large flowers of Berkheya cirsiifolia are
attracting many pollinators such as flies and bees

On the old allotment Physostegia virginiana, also called obedient plant, is in full flower now. It is quite an interesting plant as you can move the individual flowers around the flower stalk and the flowers will stay in the position you have moved them to. If grown in permanently moist soil this plant can be very invasive, quickly taking over a border. But on my relatively dry soil Physostegia is well-behaved and normally stays in one place. It needs quite a lot of additional watering at the moment to keep it looking good but in wetter years the plants normally look after themselves. There is a white-flowered version of this plant which is less invasive but on my allotment it slowly died away, probably because my soil is a bit too dry in most years. Last year I planted behind the pond on the new allotment and it looks spectacular at the moment. The plants are covered in hundreds of small white flowers which look like small butterflies dancing in the wind, really lovely. Gaura is easy to grow from seed, even easier to grow from cuttings which normally root very quickly. My allotment is too dry for most Sanguisorba but Sanguisorba hakusanensis ‘Lilac Squirrel' is doing really well. I love the funny-looking flowers which look like fluffy pink caterpillars. I have also seen bumblebees visiting the flowers so they are also good for pollinators.

Physostegia virginiana has pretty flowers

The flowers of Gaura lindheimeri
look like little butterflies

The caterpillar-like flowers of
‘Lilac Squirrel'

When walking over the allotment it is amazing to see how many butterflies are out and about at the moment. They love the sunny, warm and dry weather and take advantage of the many flowers on offer. Most-visited by all sorts of butterflies such as Painted Lady and Red Admiral at the moment are Verbena bonariensis and Buddleja davidii. Other good butterfly flowers for late summer are Echinacea, Eryngium and Dianthus. Especially Brimstone butterflies seem to like Dianthus carthusianorum which has a very long flowering season, with peak flowering in June and continuing on a low level right into autumn.

A Common Blue butterfly
visiting flowers

Painted Ladies like Verbena bonariensis

Dianthus carthusianorum flowers
are great for attracting Brimstone butterflies

Little fireworks have appeared in the borders now. Hardly visible between the other plants until now, has opened its pretty flowers. It adds some fresh colour to tired plantings and does not mind dry soil. Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Herbstsonne', with relatively large yellow flowers on tall stems, brings the sunshine down into the borders. The flowers shine even on dull days. Rudbeckia does not like dry soil so to keep it happy I have to water frequently. But when admiring the spectacular flowers I think it is all worth the effort.

A firework of Allium carinatum flowers

Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Herbstsonne'
provides some late summer colour

The pond has come along very well and looks quite pretty now. I often make it my first point of call when coming to the allotment, to see what is going on. At the moment the dragonflies are really busy mating and laying eggs. I have a resident Common Darter who likes to sit on the iris leaves and thinks the pond is all his. As soon as other dragonflies arrive, especially other Common Darters, he tries to chase them away. I have watched a few fights, especially when a female arrived and several males, including my resident male, were fighting over her. The frogs seem to wander around on the allotment a lot at the moment as often, when watering, I see them jumping around between the plants. I hope they find the numerous slugs to their liking. It is very hot at the moment and many animals come to the pond to drink. I watched several wasps landing carefully on the frogbit leaves to have a drink. They have to watch where they are going as just underneath the water surface are predatory backswimmers lurking, a type of bug which grabs other insects which have fallen onto the water surface and sucks them empty.

The pond is now nearly a year old

The Common Darter male watching his territory

A wasp drinking from the pond

 My little fox cub, which I see frequently on the camera trap, is very active at the moment, probably searching for food. I hope he finds plenty to fill his stomach. The hedgehog house is still occupied. I put some hay in front of the house recently which the hedgehog dragged all inside to make himself a cosy home. I hope he will find the hedgehog house suitable for winter use as well.

The little fox cub looking curiously into the camera

The hedgehog is busy in front of his hedgehog house

Autumn is fast approaching now but the gardening year is not over yet with lots still to come. I especially like misty autumn mornings with the sun just rising over the horizon which makes everything glow. I will be back with more tales from the allotment in October.

Nadine Mitschunas