I hate to plague you with more aspects of my gardening. But in our very small walled garden, where I know most movements of nature in plant and bird life, I am still surprised each year.
Of course, every year is different in plant and animal life. Some items do well, others not. Even our star variety of a rose, Typhoon, was slow to get going and to flower this spring, when its cuttings in the soil below did so well that I have a new rose to give to a friend and one extra for myself. They will be dug up and find their new homes come Christmastime.
What has been astounding is our “screen” of autumn-sown broad bean plants.
Old records of mine tell that successful crops of beans depend on the abundance, or not, of bees and bumblebees to pollinate them. This has been demonstrated once more by our October-sown crop of Aquadulce beans that grow from woven plastic “tubs” of soil.
The beans grew to some 8’in height (miraculously with no black-fly infestation), well supported by bamboos and string. When bumblebees appeared, areas of the abundant display of lovely flowers that they frequented produced beans. When there were no bumblebees – no beans. (Only one honeybee was ever seen.)
But just the display of those delightful flowers was a wonderful spring sight, and the crop of beans, when formed and harvested young - delicious.
So how will I be able to attract bumblebees early next year for better fertilisation when my neighbours, in a very restricted alleyway of gardens, do little to produce honey-providing flowers?
Well, it was not until I allowed my sage plant to flower that bees and bumblebees (in particular) discovered that our garden had something very tasty to offer them. They just loved those sage flowers.
So next year a pot of sage will hang among the broad bean flowers – in the hope that both bees and bumblebees will of benefit to us all and be happy.
The only snag will be that sage flowers come a bit later than the strong, autumn-sown broad bean flowers. So I will try and hasten the flowering of my pot of sage by setting the plant on a sunny windowsill in early spring. If Chelsea Flower Show gardeners have control over the timing of nature, why can’t I have a go as well?