A chilly morning, which often follows a clear night, but the day warms by the time I get to the garden. Leaves are still hanging on in the trees, but they are yellow and crinkly with those on the cherry trees having patches of red. The buds for next year’s foliage are already there in the axil of the leaf, just under the stem. Completely dormant though; it is day length and warmth which will get them on the move in the spring.

A few flowers are hanging on, mostly from the summer: marigolds, roses, and purple toadflax, but there is a Viburnam tinus along the fence by the buddleia which has sprigs of small white flowers. A great autumn survivor is the wine red chrysanthemum in the middle of the garden. The flowers are small, about the size of a 50p piece, but in big clusters, heightening the rich colour.

With chilly mornings, it was surprising to find a harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) in the garden in one of our Hesperantha flowers (Schizostylis coccinea). The one we spotted is black with red spots, so quite distinctive. This ladybird was first noted in this country in 2004, and was brought in from Japan to control aphids. It’s a timely visit as the ladybird is also known as the Halloween ladybird, as these are the weeks they get here from North America and Asia. That’s according to the Sun whose headline in 2018 was: ‘ONE TO BUG YOU What are Harlequin ladybirds, do they have STIs…’). Just in case you are getting worried; those that have STIs only infect other ladybirds.

There have been other dramatic headlines on this species. The Daily Express had: ‘Ladybird INVASION’ warning us that they were coming in swarms and getting into our homes too. This blog is somewhat late in the act, as in 2015, the Guardian told us: ‘Harlequin ladybirds declared UK’s fastest invading species’.

 

The RHS website informs us that, although they munch aphids, they also have a penchant for other ladybirds which is not so good. But I am philosophical as ‘Insect eats other insects’ is a usual state of affairs. If you find them in your house, don’t panic. It’s only a ladybird. The RHS suggests vacuuming them up if you are really unhappy. But a single one in the garden? Live and let live.

 

Such sightings do remind us that we are getting more invasive species in the UK. This is down to increased air travel and to climate change, as well as biological controls which are not always thought through.

 

The roof on the back shelter is nearing completion. A sort of jigsaw process to get standard sheeting on to our non-standard roof. We had a major clean out of the container. Some of our surplus we have passed on. We gave books to Durning Hall and other stuff to their charity shop. And so we have more room, but it is a certainty (the Second Law of Thermodynamics) the space will fill again, and we’ll need another clear out in six months.

 

The clear out makes me aware of the green mantra: Reduce, Re-use, Recycle. In that order, as recycling is quite often an expensive option in energy terms. We’ll try to do better.

 

The Community Garden, from today, begins its winter timetable with the garden closing on Thursdays, my regular stint. I will, though, do occasional blogs over the winter months.