Return to the Garden Centre


Dear Readers, can it really be nearly eight months since my last visit to the garden centre? This year has seemed interminable and yet simultaneously the days have sped past. Today, I went to the Sunshine Garden Centre in Bounds Green with my friend J, and it lived up to its name. I have never met such friendly staff as the people at this place, and it really lifted my spirits to see all the plants. The restaurant was also open with a little bit of outdoor seating and vegan chocolate truffle cake. It was so satisfying to do something that felt the tiniest bit normal, even though with Covid rates doubling every eight days in the UK at present we could all be back in lockdown soon I suspect.

Pink Salvia

The mood of the autumn seems to be ‘shades of pink’. I’d never seen a pink salvia before, but here we are. My garden is a bit too shady for salvias to be really happy, but they are splendid bee plants, and a few queen bumblebees were buzzing about here. As regular readers will know, I like to let the bees choose what I buy, but I have to be sensible too about what will actually survive in the garden.

Lovely heathers, but they don’t like my garden either, even the ones that don’t need ericaceous soil.

And as foxgloves are biennial, these will die after they’ve flowered. Maybe I’d get some self-seeded ones, but I suspect not.

I have always been fond of the ornamental cabbages, but again I have to resist. There is no room in my garden for anything that can’t punch its weight for at least two seasons.

But sometimes I have my preconceptions tested, and today was just such a day. My friend is very fond of cyclamen, and was buying some for her pots.

‘Gosh’, I said, ‘There’s a honeybee on that cyclamen’.

I have always written cyclamen off as far as pollinators go, but it seems I was wrong. Common carder bees were going mad collecting the pollen, and there were queen bumblebees too. I am sure that I have never seen this before. Is it just this particular variety, I wonder, or have I just never noticed?

My Gardening for Wildlife book doesn’t give cyclamen a single mention. Gardeners, what do you think? Is it just that the bees of North London have learned a new skill, or has something else changed? Whatever the reason, I shall consider giving cyclamen some more room in my garden going forward.


7 thoughts on “Return to the Garden Centre

      1. Anne

        Touches of normality, like being allowed to (after five months!) visit family and friends and being able to overnight in a national park perk things up a little.

  1. Fran & Bobby Freelove

    If you’re tempted to buy cyclamen don’t go for the ones you photographed, although they look lovely en masse these ones won’t be hardy. They’ll like cool conditions but not frost and snow and they hate heavy rain. Look out for the truly hardy ones like Hederifolium, for autumn colour, or Coum for winter and spring, both are tough as old boots, and look lovely planted under trees. The white ones have a lovely subtle smell, and yes we get bees in the ones at home.

    1. Bug Woman

      Hi Fran and Bobby, no I never buy these ones, pretty as they are – I was inspired by my aunt’s garden in Somerset, where she has both cyclamen coum and hederifolium naturalised under the trees….absolutely gorgeous!

  2. FEARN

    Don’t mean to be churlish but… You are following Dave Goulson’s (Garden Jungle) advice in allowing the bees to indicate which garden centre plants are bee friendly. His second piece of advice is to enquire what insecticides have been used on the plants as systemic treatments will be bad for the bees (as they would poison the pollen).


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