The Dorothy Clive Garden in Laburnum Arch Season

Metal arch supporting racemes of yellow laburnum flowers

I am usually drawn back to my favourite gardens at least once each year, timing my visit when they are at, or around, their peak of flowering. That can be a challenge. Seasons vary. Enlightened gardens work hard to make sure there is always something to tempt visitors during their open season, which makes ‘their peak’ relative, depending on which flower combinations delight you most.

I’m inclined to blame the tulips and spring bulbs for beguiling me in the past. Whether or not their rainbow glory can truly be faulted, I’ve always missed seeing the Dorothy Clive’s laburnum arch in full flower by just a few weeks or so (mere days in 2015). This year, as you see, I’ve been more fortunate. Continue reading

Digitalis Purpurea: The Essence of Summer

Foxglove and bee

The summer solstice seems an appropriate time to feature one of Britain’s most evocative wild flowers: Digitalis purpurea. Close ups of their spots, hairs and pouting flower lips, combined with dire warnings of their toxicity, help explain why so much lore has been wound around them.

Colourful folk names variously link them to fairies, dragons and witches, while scholars dispute the derivation of their commonest name, foxglove.

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Insect hotels

Home for insects at the Dorothy Clive Garden

I signed up for 30 Days Wild and I’m sharing my pictures of insect hotels (also called bug condos) as a Random Act of Wildness. These imaginative homes for insects are a practical way to help the environment and bring grownups and kids closer to nature.

Insect hotel (detail)

An insect hotel is packed with materials that create holes of different sizes, offering shelter for a wide range of creatures. Talk about consumer choice! ‘Would you prefer a roomy kingsize or snug single, Mr Solitary Bee? You’ll find a buffet breakfast in the meadow on the ground floor.’ Continue reading