Knapweed, mulching and potting-on the paulownias

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Early this month I decided I needed to cut back the Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra) severely if it wasn’t to take over the whole garden! Last year it was just along both sides of the driveway, but this year it had set itself in swathes over a lot of the Upper Garden, restricting other plant growth. So the majority of it has been strimmed at what I judged to be the best time – after most of the other wild flowers were over for the season, and before the knapweed itself had a chance to set seed. It will of course come back, but it should be controllable now and should be greatly reduced.

There is also the question of ecosystems and ecological change. As mentioned in earlier Blogs, I have already noticed changes to the ecology of the Forest Garden in the short time it has been in existence, and controlling (but not eliminating) the knapweed will obviously have an effect too. But as more plants are added as the years go on, there will be change anyway, planned disturbance, so I consider this approach justifiable.

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Winter’s work is done, a new life begins …

February has been another busy month, with the completion of winter tasks and a general feeling of the garden beginning to wake up, especially towards the end of the month.

Some of the wild flowers that have appeared this month, left to right, top to bottom: Lesser Celandine, Hairy Bittercress, Lungwort, Dandelion and Great Horsetail

The Wild Flower Census has revealed 26 species this month, up from 17 for February last year. There is one new species, Wavy Bittercress (Cardamine flexuosa), which I discovered on the last day of the month hiding among the Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta), and the others are flowers returning earlier than ‘usual’. This in itself is interesting from the point of view of climate change, and I have also noticed that flowering times in many cases are earlier now than those given in the flower identification books I use.

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