In the garden, vines and bees

I’ve begun to appreciate bees a great deal more since I read Douglas Coupland’s latest novel. Anyway, there are a lot of them in the garden this year, mainly because I’ve decided to allow whatever grows to grow, taking a more natural approach. The result is a rash of colour from the wild flowers.

I sprayed my vines for the first time this season. Sulphur, for the control of powdery mildew. It’s hard to get hold of wettable sulphur unless you have a proper vineyard, so I just use the sulphur dust you can get from most garden centres, make it wettable by grinding it in a pestle and mortar with a few drops of detergent (I use Ecover washing up liquid), and then mix it with water.

The flowers pictured above are green alkanet (Pentaglottis sempervirens). It’s actually quite an invasive weed, but it’s pretty and the bees like it. It was introduced to the UK from southwest France for a dye that can be extracted from its roots. You can eat the flowers; they’re sometimes used to dress salads.  The bee is a hovering solitary bee, with an amazingly long proboscis. Beautiful insect.

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