Sunday, 26 April 2009

25th April 2009

Some recent garden events:-

A couple of Fantails were added to the fishpond.

One of my favourite flowers is the Welsh Poppy. It flowers almost all year round and is beautiful, easy to grow and thrives in most soils and conditions. What more could one ask of a plant.

I like the fact that my hedge of native species has space beneath it for wild flowers. In this case some Cowslips and Cuckoo Pint. Please note that the rusty spade is ornamental – I don’t really treat my garden tools that badly!

This Cuckoo Pint came from Helen and Ian last year. It has three flowers on it. My original Cuckoo Pint – of which there are about six enormous plants have yet again failed to flower. I’ll give them one more year and then take them up.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The Butterfly House

I went to Chester Zoo on Monday and spent Tuesday in bed recovering from the effort – but it was worth it. I took 763 photos so I have a little bit of sorting and editing to do! Since my last visit the zoo has added a Butterfly House and being a butterfly addict I spent a while in there, walking around with a butterfly on my cap. It liked the pale colour and every time it left it, or another, landed there again. Just about everybody passing through managed to tell me about it.

It’s obviously something the butterfly house is used to – no sooner had this young girl arrived than one landed on her cap.

Fortunately they have a mirror by the door so you can check you aren’t taking any out with you.

This is a Blue Morpho (Morpho melenaus). There were a lot of them about.

This is an Owl Butterfly (Caligo idomeneus ) so-called for its large eyespot on the underside of the hind wings.

The Owl Butterfly rests with its wings closed so you have to be quick to get a photo of its upperside as it lands or takes off.

This is a Citrus Swallowtail (Papilio demoleus).

This is a Papilio species - I haven't worked out which one yet.

A White Tree Nymph (Idea Leoconue ).

A Heliconius species.

This is the Great Eggfly ( Hypolimnas bolina ).

This is a Great Orange Tip (Hebomoia glaucippe).

There were not that many different species compared to a normal butterfly house but that may be partly due to it being early in the season and the fact that the house has only recently opened. What they lacked in variety they certainly made up for in numbers.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Water Features

Apart from the various ponds we have two water features in the garden. This is one I made. It makes a pleasant pouring noise as the water runs from the jug into the stones and down inside the pot from whence it is pumped back up again.

We fell for, and bought, this water feature a few months before we bought the house and the garden centre stored it for us.

This water feature was used by a pair of frogs to lay spawn earlier in the year.

There are now a lot of active tadpoles in it.

The other day there was a Common Frog in there – probably displaying his cannibalistic tendencies. I scooped him out. Can you guess what he’s looking at?

Another frog – but not a real one!

Yesterday a Smooth Newt was in there – no doubt also feeding on the poor tadpoles.

This brave tadpole was playing with fire!

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Sunday 19th April 2009

A hot and sunny day in the garden brought a wide variety of insects including dancing Speckled Wood butterflies and Large and Green-veined Whites. This 14 spot Ladybird (Propylea 14-punctata) was on the native species hedge.

A Smooth Newt was fishing for tadpoles in the water feature.

An Ichneumon Fly

There doesn’t seem to be a layman’s guide to the Ichneumon Flies of the British Isles, of which there are over 2,000 species, but this may well be Ichneumon suspiciosus. This group of parasitic insects is abundant on hedgerows and other dense vegetation where they hunt about for the eggs of other invertebrates to parasitise. Adult ichneumons are long and slender with very long antennae of sixteen segments.

I chased it around the garden for a while only to find it (or another of the same species) come into the conservatory a few hours later.

The Tulips are at their peak. They're nearly as red as Jo's socks!

Saturday, 18 April 2009


On Thursday morning I was having a quiet look out of the front landing window when a Sparrowhawk landed right in front of me on the top of the hedge. Much squeaking and chirping from the Sparrows suggested he had lived up to his name and targeted one of them. I dived into the bedroom and told Jo but when I came out and grabbed my camera it seemed to have gone. Nevertheless the sparrows were all circling overhead and making a terrible row. In the end we concluded it had left and I went down to the front door to check. As I opened the door it burst from the side hedge and went off down the road.

A great experience and yet a really frustrating one. Of all the birds I have seen there are few of which I have no photo – the Sparrowhawk remains one of them!

Monday, 13 April 2009

The Easter weekend

On Easter Saturday we had our first butterfly of the year in the garden – a comma. On Sunday we had a Speckled Wood and a White.

On Saturday – as previously mentioned, we had out first Siskin and on Sunday we had quite a few of them – all female this time. The niger seed also attracted the pair of Goldfinches and some House Sparrows.

Usually all our frogs go into hiding when Helen visits but this week-end one was kind enough to say hello on Sunday.

There are now quite a few flowers out but the Daffodils and Tulips still provide the high-spots of colour.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

A new visitor

We had a new visitor to our garden today. A male Siskin. It is the first time since we came here nearly five years ago that we have had a Siskin.

The Cherry in the front is at its peak. The first of the Bluebells also flowered in the sunshine and new Tulips are coming out every day.

Some new plants

This box arrived a couple of days ago from Flora Select. It contains some of the plants on my 'wanted' list - Perovskia 'Little Spire', Pennisetum alopecuroides and Schizostylis "Fenland Daybreak".

Examples of these three can be seen in the side column. I also got some Liriope muscari - Lilyturf. Hopefully I shall photos of my own ones before too long.

I can thoroughly recommend Flora Select. They are not cheap but no dearer than a garden centre and the speed, packaging, delivery instructions, size and quality of the plants are all excellent.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Flowers - January to March

I’ve had an idea. Oh dear, stand back everyone. He’s thinking again.

In January I started keeping a note of the flowers that were in bloom each month. It won’t be complete this year because I shall be away for much of May and June but it will be an interesting exercise. I should also put the major seedheads and foliage when they are at their best.

Today, while thinking, I came up with the idea of doing composite photos of each months flowers and blogging them.

January was pretty easy –

And here is February:-

March had a lot more flowers out:-

I should have named the photos but I shall do that another time and perhaps come back and replace the pictures.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Cool cafe

Thinks –‘This place looks pretty cool’.


“After you, Dear.”

“Thank you, Dear.”

“Now it’s your turn.”

“I reckon we’re going to make a very smart couple at the altar.”

“Never mind the wedding plans dig in while we’ve got the chance.”

“OK but I’ve got to make sure I can still fit into my feathers, Dear.”