Saturday 28 August 2010

Bobby-Dazzlers, Every One!

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

The month of August is high Summer for us, the time when the garden has a blowsy, overgrown appearance. Foxgloves hang heavy with next year's seed. The majestic stems of Verbascums, stiff Oriental Poppy pepperpots, and the tangle of spent growth on the Geraniums, all now wizened and brown, conspire to say that Autumn is creeping in. But, into that tangled mess fly all the fairies, with their newly-painted diaphanous wings.

Peacock Butterfly on Inula Daisies

Their magical appearance never ceases to amaze me as I gaze upon their beauty with a heart full of joy and wonder. The fact that we are 225 metres above sea-level, and, therefore, colder and wetter, must have a bearing on the infrequent sightings of butterflies. Considering the layout of the garden has more nectar borders containing host plants for several species, than anything else, it has always saddened me to find so few sightings.

Red Admiral Butterfly

Throughout the Summer we see Small Whites and Large Whites on a regular basis. They lay their eggs on the patches of nettles, to which I give house-room especially to encourage butterflies. If I have grown Nasturtiums, as I have in my Summer meadow this year, their leaves will look like lace curtains by the end of the season.

Small White Butterfly

But...towards the end of August, we have this magical rainbow of, russet, azure blue, orange, bronze and creamy-white. They all congregate on the Inula Daisies. I have spread these around the garden over the years. But, it is always the patch on which the sun shines for most hours in the day which they prefer. Each probosis goes at it, hammer and tong, so to speak, as they gather their much-sought nectar. Each season many will breed, lay eggs and die. But the magic they bring is worth the brief visit, and, possibly, because of their infrequent appearance, much more appreciated than if they were flying around every day...though, for me personally, I would never tire of the company of wall-to-wall butterflies in my garden.

Hoverfly on Inula Daisies

Competing for space on each flowerhead are the Hoverflies, Bumble Bees and Bees, as well as Wasps. They are no less welcome as each has a part to play in the web of life which keeps my garden organic and chemical-free and thus better for the environment. Every one is a pollinator, though most people are surprised when I tell them that applies to Wasps too, and that they are not simply here on earth to torment our picnics.

Small Bumble Bee on Teasel

Only today, I was reminded of the story, by Simon Barnes in the Times, of the importance of Wasps and how it is they who invented paper by chewing woodpulp, and how the Chinese cottoned on to that ...and the rest is history. In fact there would be no history, no Shakespeare, no poetry without the Wasps inventing paper. So, perhaps we should salute them and sing their praises, rather than destroy them with the newspapers which we read from, thanks to them.

Banded Shell Snail

I have said this many times before in my journal...but, I allow Snails and Slugs to roam freely in my garden. I found this little fellow with his broken shell crawling away for safety under the patio. They are the dustmen of the garden, feeding on the rotting plants, and, in turn, becoming food for Thrushes and other birds, and the colony of mature frogs in our two ponds. I know they can be naughty and eat new seedlings. But there are ways around that. I use coffee grinds and crushed eggshells to deter them and I grow many seeds in large pots with vaseline around the rim, which also hinders the Snails and Slugs from crawling into the pots. In that way, we live in harmony and they survive by eating spent leaves and rotting plants.

Blue Nigella, Love In A Mist

The Summer meadow I grew has continued to mature and grow, and grace the garden with much colour...reds, oranges and pinks of Poppies; blue, white and pink Cornflowers; blue and white Nigella; baby-pink Cosmos; inky-purple Cerinthe Major; several Sunflowers and hundreds of Nasturtiums. In the two videos I took this month, I have included more footage of the Summer meadow as it developed and matured.

Golden Barley In The Field Adjacent To Barleycorn

I leave you with this quote from Ecclesiastes 3 Verse 11.

He has made everything beautiful in its time.


The first video, called Fairy Magic At Barleycorn, August 2010, is of the Butterflies, Bumble Bees, Hoverflies and other pollinators which have paid us visits this month. I used Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade to accompany the dancing insects.

In the second video, called High Summer At Barleycorn, August 2010, I walked around Barleycorn at various times to give an overall impression of what is in bloom throughout August. Jay Ungar's The Ashokan Farewell is the accompaniment. ( I hope both will play continuously...if they pause, try hovering the mouse over Play. It works for me when they stick. Happy Viewing...Enjoy!)