Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Calendulas amongst the vegetables

What dreadful wet weather we have been having! Yesterday I took a coach party from Floors Castle Garden Club round the garden and it was the first time ever that I had to abandon a guided tour (luckily very near the end) because the rain was coming down so hard! They were, however, cheerful and resilient and vowed to come back when the weather was better. Despite it all, the garden looks lovely.

In amongst the vegetables we grow a particularly good form of pot marigold (Calendula officinalis) called 'Orange King'. This was one of Gertrude Jekyll's favourite flowers and she often incorporated it into her designs - it can be seen for example in the little walled garden at Lindisfarne Castle up the beautiful Northumberland coast, a garden which I included in my book Gardens of Northumberland and the Borders. Calendulas make good companion plant which is why we grow it as well as for the brilliant colour it brings to the vegetable garden. Grown amongst tomatoes, it helps prevent whitefly and lined out with broad beans it's a deterrent to blackfly. Here we've picked the heads without stems and laid them in a blue bowl filled with water with one of the passion flowers from the greenhouse in the centre.

The birds have not being enjoying the wet weather either and I noticed this youngster looking rather bedraggled among the angelica leaves. It's a young stock dove and I love the soft grey colour of its feathers. Alan Todd who carries out a bird count here submits all the records to the British Trust for Ornithology - he has recorded 68 different species including some less common species such as hawfinch. Last week I saw a bird of prey that I think might have been a red kite but I cant be sure til it's confirmed (I didnt have my glasses on!). It's not that unlikely since red kites have been seen just a mile away so we'll have to see if it comes back. If you are a keen birder, come along and see what you can see!


shirley n. said...

Lovely, i do like your wildlife pictures and wish I was nearer so I could visit the garden often.

Pip said...

I didnt realise that this was a stock dove til I read the blog, would have thought it was a pigeon so I went and looked in my bird book. Fascinating.