June flowers

Rain is gently tip-tapping on the window this morning. In the garden a
single white foxglove grows in a foxglove graveyard. At least three others have died there but this one survived. I often wonder about gardening scenarios like this. What is it that lurks beneath the soil that the foxgloves didn’t like?

The black aphids are finally disappearing from the Japanese maple. I was desperate to ‘do’ something about it and it all took all my strength to resist. The tree looked awful for several weeks, covered in black sticky masses, the new growth yellowed and curling. But everything I read said to avoid chemical interventions: let nature take its course, and they were quite right. After a bit of a lag, nature’s best aphid predators swung into action. The same cycle probably happens every year, only I was too busy unpacking to notice last year. I will have to dig up some of my everlasting sweetpeas before next year though. They are behaving like absolute thugs and have even leapt a metre wide gap to colonise the bird feeder. Very pretty but extremely ill-mannered.

In the hedgerows I can see greater stitchwort, field roses and elderflowers. I spotted a bright pink vetchling tangled up with Meadow Vetchling in a hedgerow along a field down by the estuary the other day. Margaret Erskine Wilson draws the pink variety, Grass Vetchling (Lathyrus nissolia), in her section on June in Wildflowers of Britain Month by Month. Honestly the colour was stunning. Vetchlings are related to the sweet pea and this little plant was just like some of the more exotic colours you get from commercial sweet pea seed. The Meadow Vetchling I saw is not to be confused with Yellow Vetchling (they are both yellow), which Margaret also draws. Yellow Vetchling (Lathyrus aphaca) is a much rarer plant with broad round leaves. Meadow Vetchling (Lathyrus pratensis) has long thin leaves and is often found on farmland where it is much beloved for its nitrogen-fixing (and therefore soil-improving) abilities. Still with me? No? Time for a cup of tea
methinks!

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