Greenfingers - November 2017

First of all, a big thank you to all who contributed to and visited the 35th Minchinhampton Gardening Club Flower and Produce Show back in September. Part of the post-show LipNaMullrecovery programme involved a break on the NW Scottish coast, where on passing a plant nursery, I was amused to read a sign advertising ‘Tough Plants’. This region is very mild, with frost and snow a rarity, and offers some fascinating gardens. (Photo: Lip na Cloiche Garden, Mull, May 2017).

Our native ivy, Hedera helix provides wildlife with food and shelter over the winter months and should be valued. It flowers from September to November on mature plants, in clusters of yellow-green umbrels, which then form black berries. The flowers are nectar and pollen sources for bees, hoverflies and wasps, and the plant provides a home for the larvae of many butterflies and moths. These include the holly blue, small dusty wave, angle shades and the twig-like larvae of the spectacular swallow-tailed moth. Many birds also take advantage of ivy for shelter, nesting and food sources, both from the berries and the many insects and invertebrates it harbours.

IvyAs an evergreen, ivy was seen as a powerful symbol during winter, and with a frost-rimmed leaf can be very attractive. 

There will be a close conjunction between Venus and Jupiter in the pre-dawn eastern sky on 13th November.

Pete Smith