Nature Notes: Delights of Rouken Glen’s walled garden

editorial image

Last weekend I took the opportunity of a dry Saturday to take a trip to Rouken Glen – specifically to see the walled garden. I remember enjoying an afternoon there one baking hot day last year, when I chased red admirals around with my phone. I got a good picture in the end which is now my screen saver.

This time it was earlier in the year, so the white buddleias so beloved of butterflies are not yet out, but the garden was still looking stunning. There were purple alliums, blue geraniums covered in bees and along one wall, a row of carefully trained apple and pear trees.

The planting scheme is pleasingly unfussy, with repeat planting of the same species to create a dramatic and tasteful effect. The walled garden was completely renovated and replanted a few years ago and it is a lovely place now. It is accessed from one of the main paths in the park and provides a quiet haven – although now I have written about it perhaps it won’t remain as quiet. The day I visited, there weren’t too many butterflies – too early and too overcast for many species perhaps. But I did see a peacock and a small white.

Back at home the garden is almost visibly growing and one of the main jobs this week has been cutting things back just to keep them in check. Tendrils of jasmine are attempting to get in the back door and I have had to pull up several Japanese anemones and Welsh poppies or they will strangle everything else.

The white oriental poppies are just starting to come out now, with their huge floppy flowers, but the star of the garden continues to be the fuschia – smothered in bees all the time. Suddenly every fuschia flower has a hole bored in the base so that the bees can ‘nectar rob’ and avoid climbing into the flower itself. Even the bees who are quite capable of getting inside the flower don’t bother once they see a convenient hole has been made. It makes sense to save energy and take a short cut.

The fuschia also provides food for the birds in the form of my coconut feeder which is suspended there. It might be a time of abundant food for birds, but they are still grateful for an easy meal.

Blue tits, sparrows and especially starlings can strip a half coconut bare in a day, but the expense is worth it.