Tuesday 29 September 2009

Autumn Blessings At Barleycorn

Betula Youngii, Silver Birch Tree

I can hardly contain the deep-seated joy I feel, for we are now into early Autumn, with all the blessings this contrasting season brings. Even on a dull day, with a grey sky and no sunshine, this silver birch tree appears to be on fire with its brilliant, orange foliage.
Hosta Sieboldiana

Let's see how many tones we can find in the foliage of the hosta...pale, mid and dark green; greenish-yellow, pale yellow and yellow tinged with brown. What's not to marvel at, considering the hosta is a shade of glaucus blue when it is 'in season'?

Cupid's Dart, Catananche Caerulea

Late flowering plants, such as Cupid's Dart, are such a boon in the garden, for they continue to feed the insects, which, in turn, feed the birds. And how boring our gardens would be without the presence of wildlife, which gives purpose and meaning to the plants, and daily interest to the wildlife gardener.

Hydrangea Petiolaris

The front of our house has some yellow brick, called rustic straw-thatch. In Summer the climbing hydrangea is in contrast to it with its green foliage and clusters of pretty cream-coloured blossoms. In Autumn, however, the golden colours of the leaves merge with the brick to give it the appearance of a living wall.

Japanese Anemone Anthers

When I planted our Japanese anemones, I never imagined how well they would establish themselves and multiply over the years. Although I have pleasure admiring their beauty, their main purpose is their anthers which act as a magnet to a multitude of insects at a time when a lot of plants in our nectar borders are spent.

We have a potentilla hedge bordering the front garden, and several individual specimens within our island beds. They are in bloom from June till October, producing a surfeit of flowers and providing shelter to our garden in our windswept landscape. But, in Autumn, the tiny green leaves turn to shades of gold, red, russet, orange and brown as they don their amazing Autumnal techni-coloured coat.
Japanese Anemones

In Spring, after months of the dark days of Winter, we gardeners rejoice at the first sightings of snowdrops. So, too, in Autumn, when the frenzy of the flowering plants has all but disappeared, we rejoice in the flowers which are hardy enough to cope with the early Autumn chills.

Sorbus Cashmiriana, white Rowan Berries

Rowan trees grow particularly well in remote parts of Scotland. In Autumn flocks of fieldfares, as well as garden birds in general, feast on their orange and red berries. In contrast, the Cashmiriana Rowan has white berries while those on the Joseph Rock Rowan are yellow. I love all my rowan trees, but appreciate their beauty most when they are wearing their Autumnal coats.

Hoverfly On White Japanese Anemone

Since we are still in early Autumn here, we have yet to look forward to those 'seasons of mist' days Keats wrote about. That said, we certainly have ample evidence of the 'mellow fruitfulness' in the garden.

Hips On The Rosa Moyesii Geranium Rose

Unlike the plump tomato-like hips on our Rosa Rugosa rose hedge, the blood-red hips on the Rosa Moyseii Geranium rose are elongated and flagon-shaped and give a spectacular display for weeks on end.

Deep Pink Japanese Anemones

Autumn sunlight can produce wonderful surprises, showing off the underside of this Japanese Anemone to perfection. I enjoy observing how the blooms follow the sun 's journey each day, as if trying to thrive for as long as possible.

Autumn foliage On Geranium Macrorrhizum

Family and friends, who visit our garden regularly, are aware of how many species of geranium I grow, for I have yet to find a duff geranium. They more than pay their way, being disease resistant, requiring little maintenance and producing months of repeat-flowering in different hues. Apart from being good ground-cover plants, the Macrorrhizum Geranium's leaves, when crushed, have a distinct aroma similar to blackcurrants, and change into shades of scarlet, bright yellow and russet-brown at this time of year.

Annual Sweet Peas

Over a pyramidal trellis I grow an everlasting sweet pea, which is pretty to look at but which has little, if any, scent. To counteract this, I grow highly-scented annual sweet peas on the other side of the main stem so that the bees, insects, moths and butterflies can feast on their rich source of nectar.

Annual Ladybird Poppy

Contrasting with the lacy, dark green leaves of a rockery geranium, the longevity of the Ladybird Poppies is a particular joy as they help to prolong the season of flowering plants. If I am further blessed, and the frosts stay away, it will continue to bloom in late October. Poppies, to me, are sights for sore eyes. I have already gathered some seed to share with friends who appreciate their beauty as much as I do.

Raspberry Foliage

When I was younger I grew row upon row of raspberry canes. Nowadays I confine myself to a few pots as they are easier to control and create less work. Even on their leaves, I marvel at the many differing hues...from emerald green, through shades of orange and red, to russet.

Willow Warbler On Teasel
One Autumn visitor - a bringer of pleasure - is the Willow Warbler. As well as enjoying hearing the songs of Robin and Wren's churring back in the garden, the Willow Warbler has a magical tune of his own. He is the Tit Willow in the Mikado. I love the yellow stripe above his eye, his yellow-tinged breast and his grey-green back. He flies in to eat spiders, insects, fruit and berries. I caught this little one drinking from the water cupped between the teasel leaves.

Roly Poly Bales

This year I managed to observe, and video, the farmer, who owns the field adjacent to Barleycorn, garnering his barley harvest. After ten weeks of wall-to-wall rain, we had two weeks of drying sunny weather during which all the local farmers gathered their harvests. Whereas I cultivate the garden for pleasure, the cultivation of the farmers' is their livelihood. There were almost audible sighs of relief all round when the weather changed in time for the harvests.

Barleycorn Pond

As ever, the two ponds continue to offer entertainment. Nearly the end of September and we still have many lilies with beautiful leaves in their Autumn colours. On sunny days the frogs give a chorus or two; there is still the red-lettered day when we spy a dragon-fly and the birds still come to bathe and drink and gorge themselves on the insects flitting around the stems of the marginal plants.

Michaelmas Daisies

Apart from the cheerful, pastel shade of mauve, these asters are well worth growing as they are another rich source of nectar at the 'end' of the season. I find bees, hoverflies, insects and the last of the butterflies almost 'glued' to their centres, so desperate are they to survive another day.

Annual Cornfield Poppies

The seering vermillion of these little darlings keep my spirits up as I look forward to Autumn coming into full swing. How can I not feel blessed to be surrounded by such beauty which lifts my spirits and feeds my soul?
Click to enlarge any of the photographs you particularly like and see the most amazing detail.
If the videos 'stick' move the cursor along the red line, and they will flow. If you prefer, you can watch them on YouTube.
All good things around us
Are sent from heaven above,
Then thank the Lord,
Oh, thank the Lord,
For all His love.

Thursday 3 September 2009

Flutterings At Our Little Corner Of Paradise

Hoverflies, Episyrphus Balteatus, On Inula Daisy

Although the weather in August, here at Barleycorn, mostly consisted of wall-to-wall rainfall, there were sufficient dry spells between the showers for me to capture a few treasured moments with a variety of insects at the nectar bars.

Painted Lady Butterfly On Inula Daisy

This year, although Britain has had an influx of the Painted Lady butterflies, I have seen very few of them here at Barleycorn because of the heavy showers. But, even a few moments of magic colours my life with immeasurable joy and delight.

Large White Butterfly On Inula Daisy

Perhaps it's because they are so fleeting and rare that I appreciate their visits so much. Their intrinsic beauty speaks for itself. Who could not wonder at their diaphanous, gossamer wings, their irridescent colours, the lightness of their presence?

Peacock Butterfly On Inula Daisy

Who could not marvel at the rich chestnut colouring and the amazing 'eyes' of the majestic Peacock butterfly? My heart skips a beat every time I catch a glimpse of them feeding at my inula daisies. I normally have sightings of half a dozen Peacocks. But, this year, sadly, the visit felt very poignant as there was only one.

Small White Butterfly On Inula Daisy

Happily, there were lots of Small Whites in the garden. The green veining under their wings is most attractive. Of all the butterflies which visit the garden, these ones are most skittish when I approach them gently to take a photograph.

Red Admiral On Ligularia

The presence of the Red Admiral butterfly in the garden is like watching a glider in action. The slow, deliberate wingbeats, coupled with their striking black wings fringed with orange-y red, makes a huge impact.

Tortoiseshell On Ligularia

The Small Tortoiseshell does well in this area, managing to overwinter in warm places such as the crevices in our barn. In the month of May I sometimes find myself freeing their wings which have become temporarily entangled on spiders' webs on the barn windows, while being dried in the sunshine, before flying off to find their first meal of the year.

Silver-Y Moth On Ligularia

This beautiful, day-flying moth came to feast on the ligularia beside the back pond. It hovered almost the whole time while it combed the plant, and, so voracious, that it seemed to go at a pace of knots. I was not familiar with its name and spent a whole afternoon searching websites and my own guide to identify it. The Y in its name comes from the white marking resembling the letter Y on its front wings.

Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral and Bumble Bee On Ligularia

I was extremely fortunate to capture this photograph as the rain had stopped for what seemed like a fraction of a second during a day of non-stop showers. I edged my way, slowly, near the plant, as surreptitiously as I could, so as not to disturb them, and managed to take a little video, when, all of a sudden, there was another sudden outburst, and we never saw them again that day.

Female Bumble Bee, Bombus Terrestris On Inula

It is always a delight to find bees and Bumble bees in the garden, more so now than ever, as they are in danger, with many of them susceptible to diseases. I especially love their droning, as they accompany me around the garden on hot Summer days. But, after so much rainfall, I appreciate their serenading even more. They give me a feeling of hope. I always feel they are gentle creatures, here on earth to do the most amazing job of pollinating our plants. In Sichuan Province in China they have to pollinate plants by hand as all their bees were wiped out by chemicals.

Bluebottle, Callifora Vomitoria On Inula Bud

Even the common bluebottle has to feed and they compete with the hoverflies, the bees and the butterflies at the nectar-rich flowers. I keep them out of the house as far as I am able. But, I don't mind them in the garden as they feed the frogs and the birds.

The three videos below are made up of photographs and video clips taken during the month of August. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did filming them. My hubbie often says I have the happy knack of knowing where the Wild Things are, and in spite of all the monsoon rains we have been having, I do think it's more than just good luck that I managed to capture these beautiful creatures on film.