Monday 16 August 2010

Wildlife habitats and wildflowers.....

We have a very large gravel drive. I spend (what seems like a life time) down on my hands and knees removing weeds. Last year, I decided to use it, as a host for plants that would never survive in my heavy clay soil.
I have always wanted to have this native miniature thistle in my garden. The gravel is a perfect situation for her. A few seeds scattered in spring has produced several plants and they are now in bloom.

Carlina vulgaris......... the Carline thistle. Each head is like a miniature sunburst.

They open in dry weather and close when it is damp, acting like flora barometers.
I am sure she will drop her seeds on the gravel and bring charm to the drive.
Today has been cloudy and cool, so I decided to tidy up the beetle mound.
When creating some new borders a couple of years ago I did not know what to do with the turf I had removed. I stacked it grass to grass, soil to soil, and it has now turned into loam, apart from the top layer. It is planted with ferns, hosta, and solomons seal.
I decided to extend the bed in front of the mound to make it look more finished but still be beneficial to the creatures that are now living in it. Bumble bees have a nest in the mound. They live in a hollow of one of the large logs....beautiful, don't you think?
Anyway, after a couple of hours this is the result. I still have a little more work to do but all in all I am pleased with it.

Have a peaceful and happy week.....


  1. The finished result is lovely, Cheryl. I don't seem to be as ambitious as you are these days. We finally had a cool morning today, and I went out to weed the butterfly garden...but instead I got distracted chasing butterflies with my camera. Definitely more fun than weeding:)

  2. Rose, chasing butterflies is a beautiful thing to do.....enjoy them, they are so fleeting.

    I am addicted to my garden....I can always see room for improvement or change. Also I am blessed with a lot of energy which I need to use, otherwise I have difficulty sleeping.......

  3. Cheryl you have a wonderful ability to create a fabulous garden which looks beautiful as well as being home to so much wildlife. I wish I had your skill. That little Carline thistle is so pretty too I don't think I have ever come across one.

    Many thanks for your kind comments on my blog - I think I went overboard this weekend with posts so will have to leave it for a bit now and get on with something else!

    Thanks for sharing your garden - I always feel I have had a peaceful stroll in it when I read your posts.

    Jane x

  4. Tku Jane......tku, I love what I do and it makes me happy to know that I am helping the wildlife in some small way.....

    Your written words are lovely.....I am thinking of reading them before I go to bed. Wonderfully relaxing.

  5. What a brilliant idea! My gravel driveway is completely overgrown with weeds right now. I may just steal this idea and start on it this week.

  6. Hi Cheryl,

    That little Thistle is lovely, how is it for attracting insects?

    Perhaps you could plant some of the Thyme in the gravel too, make a nice carpet... I imagine lots of Alpine type plants will love it too.

  7. Looking good !
    Miss digging in the dirt...still too hot for spending more than a hour ouside.
    Think solomons seal is one shade plant I don't have.

  8. Hi Cheryl...The teeny-weeny thistle is the cutest!! : }
    When I was a kid we had a dirt driveway and Pineapple Weed grew in it and when it got crushed the air would have that wonderful odor ...I loved that smell!!
    Your garden looks great..wonderful place for the little creatures ...but I am allergic to bee stings so I stay clear of them!! : Oooch
    The last time I got stung I spent 4 hrs at the hospital in a cardiac unit hooked up to monitors!!
    Plans for your driveway sounds must have heard the saying "if you can't beat them join them"!!

    Have a lovely week !!

  9. Your work here certainly improved this mound. It looks wonderful. I almost got the urge to go out to work in the garden today. We had a major break in the heat. However the ground is so dry that if I try to pull weeds they just break off at the ground. I can't hardly stay inside though. Since the apple tree lost a big limb I have been contemplating what to do there. It is already planted but with more sun hitting this area now I feel like I might change what is planted there. There is always something to do in the garden. One can never feel like one is not needed.

  10. hey cheryl,

    finally getting around to reading a few blogs now that i am back home...i have missed reading yours and seeing your beautiful gardens. i love how your extended borders look. hope all is well.
    happy summer days.

  11. Hi Dirt digger....weeds are a huge problem in our drive. As I do not use chemicals it is an on-going job....although I do leave our native self heal as it creeps and actually looks quite pretty.....

  12. Hi Liz....the thistle is a host plant for a moth, and at this moment I cannot remember which one.
    I have put some thyme in the gravel drive, also some wild majoram, both are doing well.

    I have so many verb bonariensis seedlings, feverfew, etc I am digging them out and potting them ready for next year. I shall over winter them in the greenhouse......nothing like free plants.

  13. Hi Patsi, I would be climbing walls if I could not get out into the garden......

  14. Hi Grammie, re bees, I understand. I have a severe allergy to stinging nettles so have to be extremely careful when I am gardening. It's a jungle out there, isn't it??

    Crushed pineapple.....that must have been lovely........

  15. Hi Lisa....I have had trouble pulling weeds this year. The lack of rain seems to have caused the ground to set around their roots, making it impossible to get them out....

    A garden is a lifetime's work. As you rightly say there is always something to do. I think you have to love it to do it. I can understand why gardens become overgrown and unloved by some......

  16. Hi Cheryl,

    I hope to see more of your driveway, especially with the different plants and potentially different insects you can then attract!

    We have a couple of Verbena Bon. seedlings too, one in the new border strangely enough… Not entirely sure how it got there, considering the bonariensis wasn’t yet in flower when I first noticed it???

  17. Your Carline Thistle is lovely in the gravel - a perfect example of the right plant in the right place. Have you been reading Beth Chatto ? {smile}

  18. The only thing that grows in my gravel driveway is grass. :( It's always both fun and hard work extending beds. And I finally mailed the seed today!!!! I think/hope you will find something you like. :)

  19. Hi Liz....well I would not say the gravel area is the most attractive but it is somewhat unusual. As time progresses I intend to plant more and more there. That is if I can stop Mr P from moaning about them. Why do men see things so differently from women. If you would like to see it, I will perhaps do a post at some point.

    Glad you verb. bon. are spreading.

  20. Hi Bilbo, (smiling back) I adore Beth her books all the time.

  21. Hi Monica, tku so much, can't wait to get them.

  22. Your re-worked bed looks lovely. I couldn't help but chuckle, you sound so much like me--always enlarging or re-working beds. I have big plans to enlarge and create some new beds. I am just waiting for a break in the weather. This time of year reminds me of early Spring when I am impatiently waiting for the last frost of the season.

    I hope your week is going well.


  23. Hi Jenny, how are you? I love enlarging beds, over the years they just get bigger and bigger. At this time of year, the weather is cooler. So much easier to dig when there is a cool breeze......

    I went to a funeral yesterday.....very emotional day to say the least.

  24. Such a pleasant mound...full of life! I love the way the bees have made a ground nest! You are always creating homes for the critters and beauty for the humans....planting in the driveway is so very creative and making a home for the beetles is exciting! I so love seeing how you have found a way to balance wildlife habitat and human needs.
    It is a joy and so inspiring to see your gardens thrive.