Six on Saturday: 5.10.19-bulbs and peat-free

We enter a new month and Autumn is definitely upon us now. The leaves are changing colour or falling. As I live by the sea I often don’t get to enjoy the change in colour as it often goes from Summer to the leaves blown straight off. But the dogwood and hydrangeas are doing good impressions of Autumn currently. Much of Autumn gardening ends up being about tidying or preparing for Spring. The bulb planting has begun in earnest now. The garden has taken a battering the last week with rain and wind. A few plants have flopped under the weight of the rain and a few snapped. But that’s fine as the winter foliage plants stand out more and I do like my ferns and heucheras.

1. Iris reticulata

I have got round to planting the iris discussed in previous posts. I enjoyed my irises this year and vowed to get more. I am trying growing the iris in the same pots as the hostas. The idea being the iris will flower, then die down as the hosta come back up. Time will tell whether this was a good plan. I’ve got two varieties so far. The classic Harmony and Katherine Hodgson. I went with the Katherine Hodgson in one of the taller hosta pots and then the harmony are spread over two of the pots filled with the 50p hostas bought a few weeks back.

2. Clematis

Thompson and Morgan had another of their flash sales on clematis. So I now have 4 more clematises. Clematis winter beauty was one of the main ones I wanted. It’s an evergreen variety with small white bell-shaped flowers in winter. Amy doesn’t want ivy but I want evergreen climbers so I’ve been working through the options. Clematis Kokone is a ruffly purple variety that flowers in Summer. I’m split between trying this up the fence in one of the few remaining spaces or to try it up one of the trees. The Florida ‘Taiga’ and ‘green apple’ I want to try in pots growing up obelisks. But I need to find a decent-sized pot for this to work.

3. Butterfly-comma

Last weekend saw, what I think is, my first sighting of a comma butterfly in my garden. I haven’t seen these much in my areas since a brownfield area was bought for housing development. A welcome sighting. This butterfly went through a rapid decline and then has steadily come back in the south of the UK but has been working its way North. The caterpillars feed on nettles, but will also feed on willows and hops. I don’t have hops or willows but there are plenty of nettles in the back passage behind the garden so hopefully, these could become a regular feature.

4. Cosmos

The cosmos combined with dahlia have looked stunning for a good month, but the wind and rain has flattened and snapped many stems. It’s been nice while it lasted. But removing the patch reveals the evergreen ferns that will keep the garden structure through winter. I’m cutting down to the snapped stems, so I may still get some more flowers but not as grand a display as I’ve been enjoying. On the bright side, a bit less deadheading to do.

5. Buxus sempervivums

I recently discovered a local company, The Little Green Plant Factory, selling plants reared peat-free, plastic-free and chemical-free. The plants are very well priced. With all the ethical boxes ticked I needed to give them a try. I ordered two box shrubs. These were a good price. Just little specimens currently but look well-rooted and healthy. The plants came packed in cardboard in biodegradable pots with wool weed suppressant on the top. They were wrapped in straw for protection. I’m planning to grow these in pots on the patio to act as wind buffs for the less hardy plants. While only little currently they will grow quickly enough. I’m thinking square planters for this. I’ve never really grown topiary before so I’m only aiming for rough domes. A lot of the plants listed on the site are not currently available as they are growing but I’m interested to follow the progress of this company.

I actually drive through the village where this is based but currently mail order based. Though they do offer £1 delivery to Beverley for anyone local.

6. Passionflower-Snow queen

My second purchase from “The little green plant factory” has been another passionflower. This time a white variety. This was a crossbreed between the hardy caerula and white wedding. It has gone a little further along the fence from the existing passionflower. I’m hoping it has enough time to settle into its position before winter, but I’ll give it a good mulch to protect the roots to be on the safe side. In bad winters they can be killed back but will regrow from the ground. It had a decent bit of growth on it and several buds. This has the advantage over the popular Constance Elliot of having larger blooms that stay open longer. It has a few flower buds on but I don’t know if it will be sunnier or warm enough to flower this year but fingers crossed.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this weeks six and peoples gardens are holding up alright against the onslaught of the weather. I’ve had a Gee-Tee bulb delivery of 200 croci. 100 white for the front garden and 100 mixed for the back but don’t know that I’ll have time to plant them but we’ll see. Even if I can just get some in that will cut the workload. But no great rush on these. They can wait a bit longer.

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Six on Saturday: 7.9.19

Another week goes by and we are starting the slide down into Autumn. The weather is shifting. That said there is still plenty of colour in the garden. Last year I had several seasonal gaps but I seem to have managed better shifts between different flowers ending and starting this year. So onwards with this weeks Six on Saturday.

1. Butterflies

This year has seen a lot of butterflies in the garden. I don’t actually have a mass number of butterfly favourite flowers in the garden. The verbena is always popular but on the whole, I have more for bees so it has been good to see several species new to the garden this year. The small and large whites have been regular visitors but I think I’ve had them in larger numbers this year. I’ve found them one of the worst to photograph though as they don’t stay still so I was happy with these two shots where they’ve settled long enough to focus.


2. Dinosaur garden

Last week Alice worked on her fairy garden. This week she has built up her patio area with a dinosaur garden. She found this dinosaur at the beach. The shards of rock I’ve had laying around for a while and I’ve been intending to use in a succulent planter but they suit this well. The dwarf conifer I’ve had in a pot for a while not really doing much so it’d found a purpose.


3. Bargain Hostas

I walked past a church sale last week of pure tat but they also had some plants for sale at 50p each. So I filled my bags with as many hostas as I could carry.

These are probably going to be used for pots on the patio. I’ve potted a few up along with some I’ve had sat in their plastic pots for a while. From left to right the twisty foliage is dream weaver, then a blue leaved halcyon at the back, fortuneii at the front with the nibbled leaves, one of the church sales at the back, then blue mouse ears at the end. I’m thinking if use these for the patio it will link some of the front and back garden planting with lots of the same plants repeated throughout. I’m considering some bulbs around the pot edges for the start of the year. Maybe dwarf irises or Muscari that will die down as the hostas come back up.


4. Choisya

The choisya is having a second burst of flowers. The yellow rose that grows up out of this is looking like it might manage a second burst as well.


5. Nights drawing in

The nights are starting to draw in earlier. While I may well be glum about the lost time in the garden I’ve found some advantages. Sitting in our little new extension room I’ve found my garden seems to draw in the bats for the early evening. I can sit on the sofa and they are swooping right up to the windows. Wonderful to watch!


6. Dahlia, not Rebecca’s World

I bought this tuber from Thompson and Morgan. It was meant to be Rebecca’s world which is red and white. While Alice switched some labels and I don’t think she did with this one. But even is she did this doesn’t look like any I ordered as I went with almost all dark options. That said it is a stunner. The buds have a rich purple edging before it opens as a large white flower. The purple has gradually faded to pure white.

It looks like I still have a few more weeks of colour coming through but things are definitely on the wane. I’m pretty tired after my first week back at work. I’ve changed year groups at school and getting to grips with new routines. Luckily the little helper has been to hand to keep on top of the watering. Enjoy your weekends.

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Wildlife sightings

Over the last few weeks I’ve seen some wonderful wildlife. With the heat I’ve not taken the camera out on every trip, but have captured a few delights of the British Summer.

Up at Robin Hoods Bay Amy’s dads new refurbished pond is bringing in the wildlife. I love seeing the dragonflies. There is something nice about seeing a primeval insect that roamed around at the time of the dinosaurs.

In the compost a slow worm has taken up residence. These legless lizards are protected by law as the number has dropped. A pleasure to see one.

While out and about around the bay I spotted this large white. Over the month I’ve taken part in the #bigbutterflycount These have been high on all my counts. Might be common, but lovely on the thistle.

A soggy blackbird on one of the few wet days this Summer.

Out on a walk Alice settled in and refused to move from watching the cows.

The cows were equally interested in her.

In my parent’s garden they have done well keeping this giant sunflower going. The bees have loves it.

Again, in my parent’s garden a pair of robins have been in and out. They are quite friendly and will come quite close.

Down at the mere the water has been spectacular with the bright sunshine of this Summer. We’ve had a few trips down for Alice to shout at the poor ducks.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my sightings. Need to get out in the garden as getting a good variety at the moment. Enjoy your Monday morning’s.

Bay walk

The second day at the bay we got out for a walk along the sea front with Alice’s aunt, uncle, cousin and granddad.

Max had an explore down the tunnel.

Alice had a brief walk on the sand. She didn’t like the water very much so ended up back in the howdah pretty quick.

Alice’s Uncle Rich and cousin Max explored rock pools finding a decent sized crab.

Pecking through the distant rock pools for molluscs we saw the oyster catchers.

And a few butterflies on the way back up the cliff.

Back at the house we had a sit down in the rather beautiful garden for a cuppa. Alice had a good explore.

Photo challenge

The photo challenge I’ve been taking part in had been focussing on flowers and petals this week. So I’ve been playing with aperture.

So here is the same flower at different apertures. This affects the background focus. Generally for flowers people aim to have the flower in focus, then the background in soft focus isolating the main subject of the flower.

1/6 sec. f/36 50 mm

This gives some focus to the background leaves, which here isn’t quite as nice as the soft focus.

1/200 sec. f/5.6 50 mm

1/200 sec. f/6.3 42 mm

The higher f-number giving a nicer shot in my opinion. The subject flower is shot showing the colours nicely with the background as a soft blur.

And a few other shots from the garden.

Alice has enjoyed having her cousin around.

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Peacock

Haiku for a peacock butterfly

Two eyes gazing up

Staring blindly up above

Gone in a moment


Yesterday I saw my first peacock butterfly of this year. However due to a couple holidaying in Hornsea asking directions I only managed a blurry photo. I was a little disappointed to miss out on photographing such a lovely specimen at its full potential.

Then today after putting Alice down for her morning nap I saw a dark flash out the window. I rushed out to investigate, heart fluttering, to see it was what I thought. Another peacock. This time settled on my hydrangea. The hydrangeas would probably not have been something I’d choose to plant. They came with the garden, but they are very vibrant at the moment and make a rather pleasant backdrop.

 

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Lunchtime count

Yesterday the Big Butterfly Count was encouraging people to do a lunchtime count. Just 15 minutes counting butterflies some time between twelve and two. The weather had not been ideal butterfly weather. It had been blustery and showers through the morning. It was starting to cheer up, when at five to twelve the heavens opened with torrential rain. My butterfly count number was looking to be zero, a golden duck. I resigned myself to maybe seeing one or two whites if I was lucky.

So I got on with jobs. I put my waterproofs on and got to work clearing rubble at the bottom of the garden to take to the tip. The first load was taken in the rain and no chance to do my count. The second load of rubble went to the tip with the rain still coming down.

Then as suddenly as the rain had come the clouds parted for beautiful sunshine. I was near the brownfield site I’d walked a few weeks back. So I parked the car and got out to see whether my butterfly count would remain zero or improve. This area is overgrown with thistles and nettles and areas of long grass. A perfect set up for many butterflies. There are a number of trees and then more open areas.

Cabbage whites

First sightings were of the cabbage white butterflies: the small and large white. I will admit distinguishing is hard as they don’t really like to stop still to be identified and their equally inconsiderate about pausing for photographs, but I did manage a few. There is a difference in size for a start. The black tips are smaller on the small white and more vertical than the horizontal black tip of the large white according to UK butterflies.

Speckled Wood

Along the tree lined edge I saw a handful of speckled wood butterflies. The speckled wood favours dappled light from a woodland canopy. Their distribution is traditionally meant to be further south than me, but they are apparently widening their locations. I imagine, as with a number of other species, climate change is giving them better conditions across more of the north.

Red Admiral

The red admiral sounds like it should be a villain in an old war movie, but after the whites they are probably the most common butterfly I see in my garden and local area. They adore the buddleia’s which grow in abundance here. With many elderly home owners being unable to maintain their gardens they seed and grow out of hand. When I’ve set up butterfly feeding stations in the garden, leaving over ripe fruit out, they are the most likely to visit.

Meadow Brown

Meadow brown’s are a commons species across the UK. They can found in habitats with medium grass, so meadows, roadside verges, neglected gardens and the edges of woods. That said I’ve never spotted one since moving and never photographed one before. It was nice to find something new on a count I was expecting to be a failure. It was a rather raggedy meadow brown possibly not got much more life in it.

There was also a lot of dragonflies and damselflies hovering over the wasteland, but few stopped for photos and I wasn’t there to count them I didn’t give them quite as much attention, but did get one clear photo.

Holly Blue

At this point I had spent my 15 minutes on my count, so I headed back to the car and headed home. Coming back in through the gate I spotted one final butterfly; the holly blue.

So what was looking to be a very disappointing count turned out pretty good. Six species of butterfly. I normally see ringlets and small tortoiseshells in the grasses, so surprised not to see them. I have also seen commas there before, but considering the weather I don’t think that was too bad a count. By doing these counts it helps put numbers to the species and this all helps with their conservation. It’s also a very enjoyable way to spend 15 minutes observing these wonderful insects. An ideal activity to do with your children or enjoying a moment of peace on your own.

What butterflies have you seen recently?

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A first for the garden

Yesterday I spotted a previously unseen butterfly in the garden. It was a tiny little pale blue butterfly. I think it’s a holly blue. It’s nice that after a year in the house there are still new discoveries to make.

The dragonflies were still active. This one settled on the hydrangeas. I haven’t had much practise on ID of dragonflies but I think this is a hawker. Probably just a common hawker.

I’ve been working hard on the garden the last few days changing the compost heap and knocking out walls on the patio to make space for a better seating area. I will share progress later in the week.