The first Yellow Iris is in flower.
The weather has been warm and sunny for the last four days so I have tried to make the most of it by being outside. The tubs of spring bulbs needed tidying and getting ready for their long sleep until next year. I bought some plants for my window boxes a couple of weeks ago and have now planted them up and fixed them under the kitchen and utility room windows at the front of the house.
I also had a few plants that had to be planted out and a few that needed repotting. I have got other pots of plants that have yet to flower and some more that I’m not sure what to do with, so I’ll feed them all and give them a sort out during the next few days. I have many more pots of perennials than I would like but until I make a new flower bed or re-instate the one I abandoned after Dad died and all sorts of things went wrong, they’ll have to stay where they are. I have enjoyed myself very much indeed and wish I could spend all day every day gardening.
With the warm weather all sorts of insects good and not so good have arrived. I have killed five red Lily Beetles so far – such beautiful insects but so destructive. They and their nasty grubs can destroy a lily plant in a couple of days and not only lilies but fritillaries too. If they think they are under attack they drop down onto the soil under the plant, red side down and then bury themselves and can’t be found. I creep up on them and put one hand under the leaf they are on to catch them if they jump and then squash them as quickly as possible. They do sometimes bite but it’s the last thing they do!
I am hoping that the mild winter we had this year has meant that many more insects have survived. I can put up with a few more troublesome insects if we have more butterflies and moths, ladybirds and hoverflies, lacewings, crickets and grasshoppers . The bats flying round the house this evening certainly were catching lots of things to eat. We have hornets here and they have become noticeable this week with their deep buzzing and their large yellow and brown bodies, flying ponderously about the garden. They are different in their behaviour to wasps. They aren’t very intelligent I think, and once in the house have no idea how to get out again. Wasps are in your face all the time, spoiling for a fight but the hornet is more like a bee, not really interested in us and just wanting to get on with their own business. I’m not saying they are harmless, far from it; I wouldn’t mess with a hornet! We had a hornet’s nest in our old shed a few years ago and as they had positioned it against the door we couldn’t get anything out of the shed until late autumn when they had all perished. They are attracted to light and will fly towards it at night like moths. It was so strange to see them crawling up the outside walls of the house trying to get to the outside lights or into bedroom windows. We have had to learn to keep windows shut when we have the lights on at night. I would like to get fly-screens fitted to the windows one day.
Today, I saw the first Damselfly I’d seen this year. Such a thin body, so fragile looking but so beautiful. The male, a sliver of turquoise and the female a reddish-brown. I tried to photograph the male but it came out blurred – I’ll try again tomorrow.
Froghopper larvae are exuding frothy ‘cuckoo-spit’ on all the plants in the garden.
Lots of different bees are flying about. I noticed bees entering a crack between the mortar and one of our kitchen windows, there are lots of mining bee holes in the dryer flowerbeds and while I was in the conservatory watering R’s cacti today I became aware of a leafcutter bee with its orange underside carrying large pieces of leaf in through the door. It has made a nest in the soil of one of R’s cacti and was rolling up the bits of leaf and taking them down the hole.
There are many different types of hoverfly about.
I noticed a little butterfly had got into the conservatory today so went to get a glass and a card as this is the best way of catching insects I know. The butterfly was a Green Hairstreak and the first one I had ever seen. The top of their wings is brown but the underside is a brilliant green. The butterfly kept its wings shut so I could admire the glorious colour. I tried to photograph it while it was in the glass but it didn’t work out well at all.
On Friday morning while having a walk aound the garden I came across this on the path…
I couldn’t think how it could have come to be there. I was also surprised to see such a big fish which had no doubt come from our pond. Why hadn’t it been eaten? What had caught it and left it there? What type of fish is it? Is it a bream? It wasn’t until R and I were talking about it when he got home from work that we worked out how it had got there. It has a stab wound low down on its body and R suggsted that a heron might have inflicted it. I then remembered that when R had gone down to his vegetable plot near the big pond the night before he had disturbed a heron.
Today while walking round the pond I disturbed a moorhen and her three chicks. The parent rushed off into the reeds as usual and left the three chicks to find their way back to her as best they could. As I watched them, one of the chicks started to squeak and looked as though it had caught its foot in something in the water. I thought this strange so got closer only to see the chick dragged under water and disappear. What could have done this? What have we got in the pond that eats baby moorhens? I thought it might be a pike but R thinks it unlikely that a pike would live in a pond this size. He thinks it might be a carp. Has anyone any suggestions?
I took a few photographs of the perch (I think) in our pond today.
I’ll finish here tonight and do another post tomorrow when I’ll talk about the birds and flowers I’ve noticed this weekend.