This year I have been posting photos of all the flowering plants in the garden month by month as they have appeared through the year. Most of them are collected together in the gallery below and listed on the pdf document accessible here: flowering plants in the garden of equal delights 2020.
There are 156 plants listed and I can think of a dozen or so others that somehow I managed to miss out when taking photos. I planted about fifty of all the trees, bushes, shrubs and herbaceous plants for food (for us) and the remaining one hundred plus flowering plants are all fulfilling a range of roles in the forest garden ecosystem. Whether they were planted for a specific reason, or if they ‘just arrived’, as many of the wild ones did, they each have their own role and significance. They support pollinators, they are the precursor to fruits and seeds, they provide habitat, and they give a great deal of joy as well.
As I pay close attention to the flowers and their visitors I notice that each different type of plant attracts particular insects. Many seem to attract just one type, some attract two or three different insects, and I haven’t really seen any that attract a wide of different insects at any one time (although there may be more variation over time coinciding with different insect life cycles).
In my book – the garden of equal delights – I have coined the term ‘polyfloral’ to denote plants that are exceptionally floral and bear thousands of tiny flowers, either all at once or over a period of time. These include alliums, plants in the apiaceae family such as fennel and parsley, the asteraceae such as dandelions, daisies and sunflowers, and the lamiaceae including mints, thymes and sages. The garden has these polyfloral flowers in abundance – I estimate that over half of the plants featured fall into this category, and a great many others are very floral as well. It is also notable that although I have made a careful choice of cultivated plants to attract insects, nevertheless it is often the wild plants that are particularly popular.
I particularly want to emphasise the role of flowers within the forest garden because increasing the diversity of plants – and therefore flowers – is part of increasing the diversity of life that can come and eat and live in the garden. This boosts the resilience of the garden as a whole and crucially it also forms tangible connections with other places in the vicinity. This vital interconnection therefore helps to support other ecosystems, and so on.
“…. what happens or does not happen in my garden affects my neighbours’ gardens, the woods across the road and the farms up and down the hill. And vice versa – what happens in those places affects my garden too. But further afield, across their farther boundaries their ecologies are interacting with yet others – down in the valley, across to the river, across the distant hills or along the river and the canal to the town and its industrial estates and the nearby nature reserves, alongside the road verges and the railway line and eventually reaching the very different terrain of the mountains, the moors and the coast.”