Wells Voice Article June 2024

Lawn mowers were pretty quiet during May - at least that was the idea. Some of us cut a few bits for access to the garden shed or compost heap and we now await the harvest in July. What's left now is a lot of long grass. Some gardeners to whom this is a novel experience may be disappointed with the lack of butterflies dancing above a colourful myriad of swaying flowers promised by over enthusiasts. But this is what happens when you let the grass grow. However, all is not lost. It's worth taking a closer look. Nature has a way of going about its business unheard and unseen, popping up with the odd, unexpected surprise. Ranunculus repens is one of these, namely, creeping buttercup. For many a pernicious and tiresome weed. As a result of the very wet spring, it has rampaged everywhere, not creeping but positively galloping from the lawn into the borders.

This year the meadows have turned golden with buttercups following the dandelions, poisonous to livestock some say. Not necessarily so. Since this plant contains ranunculin, cattle find it distasteful, as when chewed it releases a certain toxin and cattle are not the only ones who avoid it. If you look closely, you will find that few bees spend long foraging in the pollen. And this is where buttercups start to delight us further: Chelostoma florisomne comes to the rescue. This fellow is a solitary bee and is well plant specific. Its name is the sleepy carpenter bee. Not only does it appear to be pretty handy at woodwork, but it has made friends with the buttercup to such an extent that when the weather turns poor it seeks refuge in the closed petals of the flower sheltering from the rain all cosy inside. Hence the 'sleepy'. Now that comfy association I find both charming and forgiving. It's easy to be carried away, especially when summer is upon us, and we are surrounded by the joys of June and perhaps a bit of sunshine.

The Gardening Club holds no meetings until September but there are a couple of excursions open to everyone if you like to join us:

     To Athelhampton House & Garden in Dorset 20th June 10am -4 pm  

     To Mapperton Garden in Dorset 18th July 10am – 4pm

For more details and to book please get in touch via this site.

Enjoy all aspects of high summer. Pip.