Tag: toadflax

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Around the garden and back again

This is a picture of my house. Not MY house, obviously (I’m not that grand, 🙂 It’s a tealight house that sits in the garden surrounded by daisies. I was looking around to see how well the garden is doing in the current heatwave and making sure everything is well-watered in case there’s a hosepipe ban. Apparently reservoirs are getting low and we need to be mindful of how we use our water. I’ve been emptying my teapot on the potted flowers as they become dry as old bones very quickly. I need to take heed!

A nod to Bill in Beeston there – only meaningful to a handful of ex-colleagues I worked with some years ago… like references to Lorde (yes, with an ‘e’) Richard and Swirl Vision jumpers.

The grass seedheads are delicately pretty.  Look at the gorgeous shadows they cast on the white roof.

And here:

Yes, wild grasses are a pain in the bum but just sometimes we have to see the beauty in nature. Those judgy pants we all wear from time to time can get hoiked so far up there’s a danger that they’ll come out of our noses. (Snopes: FACT).

Beatrice, the honey bee, was busy gathering pollen on the daisies. I know all the garden bees by name.

She was very busy. Just look at those golden yellow saddlebags! Full of pollen. Here she is mid-gather, collecting the golden dust to take to the hive to make a pot or two of honey (Mary Beery recipe – can’t go wrong). Sorry (not sorry) for the pun. The heat is sending me a bit bonkers. This is Ireland -we’re not used to it.

There. She’s just finishing her shift. I think she’ll be back to the hive for some breakfast and it’ll be Beyonce taking over for the afternoon.

The bees also love this purple flower. I think it’s Purple Toadflax. Research tells me it’s a weed but the bees like it and that means it earns its keep in the garden. No further questions asked. I have patches of clover and lawn daisies galore (love, love love lawn daisies) that the bees love even more than I do, so they stay, too.

I hope it’s Toadflax. The name is great – sounds so medieval but am not finding much on its etymology. Most references to Toadflax are for the yellow flowering ‘bread and butter’ Toadflax but there’s more information if I use ‘purple’ in the search term. Apparently Purple Toadflax is a favourite nectar-plant with the Wool Carder Bee which is rare and becoming rarer 🙁  It’s a large solitary bee which likes to line its nest with hairy leaves like those of Lamb’s Ear! I would be over the moon to have one in my garden. I will see about finding Lamb’s Ear on my next visit to a garden centre and see if I can encourage one of these lovely ladies to make a home with me.

Anyway, back to Toadflax – I got this from the online Collins dictionary:

“The toadflax is any of various scrophulariaceous plants of the genus Linaria, esp L. vulgaris, having narrow leaves and spurred two-lipped yellow-orange flowers”.

Supercalifrangilisticscrofulariaceous! Very Mary Poppins. 😉

Apparently, scrofulariaceous is actually an adjective used to describe:

” a family of plants including figwort, snapdragon, foxglove, toadflax, speedwell, and mullein”.

And, it was actually used to treat scrofula, a form of TB. Learn something every day.

I have quite a lot of lavender all over the place. When I was having my eldest child I developed an obsessive desire for all things lavender and many years on, it’s still a firm favourite of mine and, luckily, grows well for me.

Most things are coming along well. There are some wild strawberries – tiny like only slightly bigger than blueberries but so red and pretty. They’re for the birds. The Hydrangeas are starting to outrageously burst out in riots of hot pinks around the garden front and back.  Mine are huge and become massive bushes of colour. They are gloriously ostentatious, enjoy being centre of attention and love that people comment on them if I’m out the front doing a bit of gardening. No modesty whatsoever. They would show their knickers through the letterbox if you let them!

I also have Petunias, Honeysuckle, Fuscias, Campanulas, Sweet William, succulents, Hebes and loads of others that I cannot name.

Hebes – coming into flower.

The daisies are doing brilliantly. My lovely old Tom, gone several years now (2011) loved to sleep in the middle of them in summer. When we moved house some five years ago, we planted daisies in the big planter that is home to His Lovely Bones. I could never leave him behind. The daisies have been transplanted to give them room to run free and I like to think there’s some of Homer’s intrepid, adventurous spirit in them. The daisies are the most honoured flowers in my garden. His Lovely Bones planter has been re-planted with Aubretia and other small spreading flowers that spill over the sides – he is not contained.

Of course looking round the garden hasn’t been all I’ve done recently. My interest in hand embroidery is re-ignited. I was tidying up the sewing room and found several pieces that I’d done on linen that were too small to do anything sizeable with but too charming (IMHO) 🙂 to throw away. Like this one:

Simple stitches – Fly Stitch, Running Stitch and, my all-time dimensional favourite, the French Knot. The wooden spool had some fancy twine on it once and was a nice thing to keep but very plain once the twine was used up. Now it has a delightful hand-stitched linen wrap – and doesn’t it look well?

I’ll be doing something similar for this smaller one. I enlarged the hole to sit the scissors in:

Off to give it a hand-stitched linen wrap and finish the job! That’s me done for the day.

Speak laters! Have fun and enjoy the weather.

***** UPDATE*****

I was contacted by somebody telling me that this bee IS a Wool Carder Bee! I’m not sure but there is a biodiversity site in Ireland asking for sightings of this bee so I’ll send a pic and a few details and hope it is. Úna FitzPatrick at ufitzpatrick@biodiversityireland.ie

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