What’s flowering now in Cornwall: late May to early June

In a different lifetime – perhaps simpler, happier times – I used to walk the wild paths to find out what was flowering in Hanwell, my area of London. There was a surprising amount of green space there, connected up by canals and parks. One field used to be full of bright yellow ragwort and cinnabar caterpillars, a sunny sight to see.

I thought I might try to do that again in Cornwall. We shall see how it goes. The foxgloves are especially spectacular this year, standing tall in all the country lanes. Huge bumble bees disappear inside their bells.

A friend gave me a book called ‘The complete language of flowers: A definitive and illustrated history’ by S.Theresa Dietz. ‘Digitalis purpurea’ also goes by the old names of Cow Flop, Dead Man’s Bells, Dog’s Finger, Fairy caps, Goblin’s Gloves and Witch’s Thimble, to name but a few of its delicious nicknames. According to superstition, if you pick one, the fairies would be offended.

Foxgloves

Some eagerly awaited visitors have found our Lamb’s Ear patch – wool carder bees. They wear chic black outfits with bright yellow stitching down the side. The Lamb’s Ear are useful to them both to line their nests with their fibres and for their nectar. I was perplexed today to find one laid completely still on one of the leaves. I thought she might have been grabbed by a crab spider, but there was no sign of any creature gripping her from below. Perhaps she was just having a rest? When I returned a bit later, she was gone.

According to my book, Lamb’s Ear guards against harm and wards off evil magic.

Wool carder bee

Wool carder bee

Wool carder bee on lambs ear

Wool carder bee on lambs ear

Red campion grows along a field I walk around to pass the long days. Its symbolic meanings include ‘youthful love’.

Red campion

Red campion

In the past week campanula flowers have come out, casually growing out of walls and any little spot where no other flowers will grow. Patchwork leaf cutter bees zoom between them, occasionally stopping for a rest in the sun. They are said to collect sections of leaves from plants including birch trees, roses, lilac and honey suckle, which they carry away to use in their nests.

The mini apple trees were pollinated very fast indeed and the apples are now well on their way to getting big. I prefer the cooking apples on a little tree by our shed though, except that most of them are too high to reach. But I will get a few crumbles from them.

What is growing where you are?

Apples

Apples

About Emily Scott

I am a UK beekeeper who has recently moved from London to windswept, wet Cornwall. I first started keeping bees in the Ealing Beekeepers Association’s local apiary in 2008, when I created this blog as a record for myself of my various beekeeping related disasters and - hopefully! - future successes.
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21 Responses to What’s flowering now in Cornwall: late May to early June

  1. Jeepers, I will plant a row of lamb’s ears along the fence we share with my anti-bee, narky neighbour!

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  2. Is that a bumble bee in the digitalis picture? It’s absolutely ginormous! I love it. ❤ Thank you for taking us along on your walk. 🙂
    What's blooming in my yard (central Kentucky): Hemerocallis (daylilies), Penstemon (beardtongue), clover (yellow hop and Dutch white), Tradescantia (spiderwort), Oenothera (evening primrose, pink), and sweetbay magnolia.

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  3. disperser says:

    Very nice photos and narrative.

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  4. Katharine says:

    It’s one of those odd things that urban areas often have a greater diversity of plants and insects than rural ones – hope Truro gives you lots to see.

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  5. beatingthebounds says:

    Wow – the wool carder bee is very impressive!
    Butterflies definitely settle down for the night, finding a spot to close their wings and perch when it gets too cold for them to fly. Bees seem more able to cope with the cold, but I have seen bumblebees coma to a stop on a flower when the sun gets low and just sit, I’ve also found them in similar positions early in the mornings before a cool nigh thas warmed up properly. Could that explain your motionless bee?

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    • Emily Scott says:

      I’ve heard about bees doing that too, but this was a sunny day and at 3pm. The bee was sort of head first down on a leaf. Maybe it had been over doing the foraging!

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      • beatingthebounds says:

        Oh – it is a bit of a mystery. Especially given the way they almost never seem to stop. Thinking about it – I once saw a tree bumblebee just sitting still, I remember being very struck by it, because it was so unusual.

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        • Emily Scott says:

          It is strange to see! I’ve only ever seen bees so still before when caught by something. But the crab spiders don’t seem to be hunting in our garden this year. Last year we had two, one on a mini apple tree and one on a scabious flower. The apple tree spider seemed to be more successful.

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  6. Pingback: Day 10, LexPoMo 2020 | The Daily Compost

  7. Lovely photographs. Our Hollyhocks are just starting to flower so it must be summertime. I am so confused with the weather this year that I have to look at the plants to see what season we are in. Amelia

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  8. Erik says:

    I saw a wool carder bee on our Lamb’s Ear yesterday – they always make me smile. The bumble bees seem to enjoy these flowers as well. The Day Lily’s just starting to bloom, and the white clover is all over the lawn at the moment.

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  9. The wool carders have not appeared yet where I look but I am waiting! I saw a couple of bumblebee workers a few days ago resting on hogweed flowers and I am told they shelter under the flowers in the rain. My favourite recent flower is hedge woundwort, a beautiful dark red colour and very popular with bees especially Anthophora.

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  10. Lindylou says:

    Hallo Emily, I don’t know if I understood properly what you wrote in your first paragraph. Do you mean that you will deliberately try to introduce ragwort to where you live?
    If that is what you do mean then I would caution against. Grazing, cows and horses get brain damaged by this plant. In fresh plants they generally know to avoid it, but if hay is made from that which also grows in a meadow, the animals cannot differentiate in the hay offered and there are then devastating consequences. Here in NL much is done to eradicate it in Meadows and if it grows on your property her then by law you have to dig it out or keep mowing it down until it gives up the ghost.

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    • Emily Scott says:

      Hi Lindy, sorry no – what I meant was starting to write blog posts about what I see flowering again. I won’t be planting ragwort! I know it is dangerous in hay but in London where I was walking we had no grazing animals. It’s not illegal to leave it flowering in England.

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