Derek – Thursday 7th June

It is warm in the garden, around 22ºC with intermittent sunshine. The buddleia is 2.5 metres (8 feet) tall and the playhouse is almost hidden. On the inner edge of the buddleia forest, in a raised bed, is an acanthus with a column of white and purple flowers and large, fern like leaves. Another plant flowering this week is Jerusalem sage ({Phlomis fruticosa) on the raised bed by the middle gate. The flowers remind me of a pineapple cocktail.
The wild flower bed is a profusion of flowers. New additions this week are red poppies and field mouse ear. The latter is a small plant with white flowers, having five petals and gaps between each. A glance at a thistles on the bed, had me wondering why it had it a black stalk. Closer inspection shows the stalk is completely smothered in blackfly and so are all the other thistles in the bed. None of the other wild flowers are attacked.
At the edge of the pond is the Monkey flower (Erythranthe guttata) reminiscent of yellow snapdragons. It is obviously thriving on the ledge of our pond. The monkey flower is from North and Central America, common by ponds and streams. On the pond surface, with its large floating leaves, a water lily is in bloom, and another about to burst out.
I search the pond for tadpoles and find only a few scurrying out from stones when I lift them. I cannot believe that the 1000s that came out of the spawn in April are all hiding in the pondweed. I think many have been eaten by predators. And I suspect dragonfly nymphs. My Collins book, Pond Life, says of them: Dragonfly nymphs are fearsome hunters of other aquatic animals, as terrorists rating second only to the larger beetle larvae. They spend up to three years on the bottom of the bond, and will certainly eat tadpoles.
I find dead damselflies on the surface of the pond. After mating, it is a short life above water for the damselfly; they live only a few weeks longer. Most of their life, like the dragonfly, is spent as nymphs at the bottom of the pond. They probably eat tadpoles too.

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