Derek – Thursday 1st August 2019

It’s warm in the garden when I arrive and cloudy. At around 3pm, the sun comes out and it’s hot. This is the walled garden effect, which is why large country houses wall in their vegetable gardens. It protects fruit and veg from the worst of the weather, and gives them more heat in summer. Our walled garden is not in a private manse but open to everyone.

There’s lots of bees, wasps and hoverflies. I see a painted lady butterfly flying through the pergola. All afternoon, I note cabbage whites darting in and out of the buddleia. I suspect there are gardens nearby with cabbages damaged by their caterpillars. With all these insects, I am surprised that I see no birds at all. Where are they? Is it the temperature?

I see a mint moth, on a patch of mint near the buddleia. The mint moth has four distinctive spots on the base of its wings. Most moths are nocturnal, but the mint moth is seen in daylight too. And that’s when it becomes tricky to say whether you are seeing a butterfly or moth. The easiest way to distinguish them is to look at the antennae tips. Those of the butterfly are swollen.

We had rain in the week, which has enlivened the garden, but the pond remains low. It’s a greeny brown colour. There are snails and water boatmen, but I look for pond fleas as these are a sign of pond health. I don’t see any, and wonder whether that is an effect of the low pond. Chemicals get concentrated as a pond dries out and it can get noxious for flora and fauna. Next week, I’ll take the pH.

Some flowers get through their flowering in no time, and some last for months. With the latter, it’s not that the flowers themselves last so long but flowers keep coming. Ones I note that have been blooming for some time are California poppies, lychnis, buddleia, hollyhocks, and hybrid tea roses. I am surprised to find some anchusa still in flower. I know it’s long lasting but wonder if this one was a late starter.

The wild flower bed is mostly seed heads, much of it the curled head of the wild carrot. But some of the wild carrot is in flower still. There isn’t much else flowering: a few California poppies, hedge mustard but just a scattering of these. I like the untidiness of this bed and so do many insects. It’s an aspect which divides gardeners; how tidy to be. There’s no right answer as it depends what you want from the garden. Tidiness that would make me shudder is what others seek.

Comments 1

  1. I learn something new every time from your blog Derek, thank you. Unfortunately I don’t always retain the information!

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