Whilst the whole world (it seems) has been staring at Chelsea show gardens this week, I have been more interested in what’s been going on in my local hedgerows. The May (hawthorn) blossom is out in full force, and contrasts nicely with the blue alkanet. Daisies and yarrow are mingling on the grassy verges, and in the horse chestnut trees the ‘candles’ of flowers are giving way to baby conkers.
This all seems like good news for the bees, and the Goulson Lab at the University of Essex has put together a long list of the best garden flowers for bees so that we can help them out a bit more. One of the things I love about kitchen gardening is that a lot of edible plants, particularly herbs, are good for bees, so planting more of those is a win-win situation! I realised this week that my garden has enough lemon balm plants now (which I used mainly for tea, but also to add to Pimms) – which is good – but is a bit short on spearmint (garden mint). I have two or three lovely plants, but I need to divide them up and propagate some more, to create an abundance.
Anyway, enough about me. How much do you know about bees?. Quite a bit, I hope 🙂
But did you know that Arctic foxes ‘grow’ their own gardens? It’s not like their hobby or anything, but they fertilize the area around their den, which encourages the growth of plants and creates little oases in the tundra. Which attract other animals….
Which sounds like another win win situation to be. I like those. I don’t like the alternative, which is why I have been blogging about garden inequality for Something Different On Their Shoulders magazine. It has a link with the arctic foxes, actually, since in the end it all seems to come down to toilet facilities.
The Plate have put together a very interesting article on whether rhubarb deserves its killer reputation. Reading to the bottom I found a link entitled 4 things you didn’t know about rhubarb, so of course I had to click. And, of course, I already knew three of them. But I didn’t know that rhubarb is “big – really big – in Alaska. Rhubarb is a cold-weather plant, and it will grow back every year for a decade or so, when treated properly. While rhubarb is grown over much of the northern U.S. from Maine to Oregon, it has a special place in the hearts of Alaskans. That’s because the few long days of summer sun there help rhubarb grow to five feet or more.”
And now I do.
It will take me a little longer to digest the Lucky Peach guide to the rices of Asia, but it’s always nice to see an article that examines the wide range of diversity in some of our staple crops. Meanwhile, if you’re in the right part of the world then you can learn about Harvesting Salmonberries – Using The Berries and Leaves, which is about Rubus spectabilis. Ha! Did you think you were going to get though an entire edition of Tendrils without me mentioning the scientific name for a plant??? 😉
In last week’s Tendrils, I was talking about chives. Mine are mostly the ‘Cha Cha’ variety at the moment, producing little troll heads of mini chives rather than the familiar purple blooms. But I’ve got one of those somewhere, and when it flowers I might try my hand at making chive blossom oil and vinegar. If only because purple isn’t a colour you often see in savoury food!
Well, that’s it for this week’s edition. It just remains for me to remind you that there are free plants on offer from Suttons at the moment, ranging from familiar flowers and vegetables to some more unusual things. If you’re in the UK then enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend and I will see you again for Tendrils next week 🙂