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China Girl blog 25th October 2019

How true are Kipling’s words “The glory of the garden lies in more than meets the eye.” As October days wear on, the hard work of autumn is well under way. We work our way through the garden, cutting all plants to the ground except of course for silver-leafed plants and those plants which are not reliably hardy. These we mulch with various different things such as woodchip from our biomass boiler, dried ferns or straw, covering where possible small plants with plastic or glass domes.

Mother went to a talk on hedgehogs with Chris at Bathealton Village Hall, which was very informative. The hedgehog who we have been feeding in the Inner Court for two weeks, has sadly stopped coming for his evening feast. Apparently, this often happens as they can travel two kilometres in search of food at night. Their only predators are cars and badgers, who compete for the same food of slugs, snails, worms, beetles etc. Mother heard that gypsies roast them but whether this is true or not, it sounds horrible.

Plants are truly amazing, evolving over thousands of years to protect themselves in various ways. One in four species of bracken are poisonous because they have toxins and activators. Some brackens will have activators and no toxins, some will have toxins and no activators and some will have neither. Over time, animals have learned to avoid bracken as they don’t know which are poisonous. Plants protect themselves in other ways, such as nettles which sting; others have thorns and spikes, while others mimic different dangers. No wonder Prince Charles talks to his plants!

Flowering in cracks in a stone wall is the charming yellow-flowered Corydalis lutea, flowering from May until October, native of the alps in Switzerland, Italy and what was Yugoslavia.

The spectacular Salvia Amistad  a fairly new salvia, is very striking; a glorious dark midnight blue, is still in full flower.

How amazing is our small island, enabling so many species from around the world to flourish.The botanists from past times risking their lives to travel the world collecting plants which make our blessed land like the Garden of Eden.