The robin thought we had emptied the compost bin just for his convenience – as they do! He collected so many grubs to take back to his mate, who must be sitting on eggs as there was no sign of her. I believe this is a mature robin as he was confident and battle-scared. He was hopping into the wheelbarrow as we were forking out the compost!
Wildlife in the garden, both the welcome visitors like ladybirds, bees and butterflies, as well as the garden pests like slugs and snails.
Tips on attracting the friendly wildlife to your garden and ways to protect your precious plants from the pesky pests.
I have probably seen more ladybirds in the garden today, than I saw all last summer, which is great news for us and bad news for the aphids! I watched these little guys/gals for ages crawling on the forget-me-not flowers (Mysotis).
The forget-me-not blue contrasts so well with the yellow flowers that dominate spring gardens. I love them planted around the base of tulips. They are so easy to grow, just scatter some seed down in the summer/autumn and the following year you will be rewarded with lots of flowers on compact plants. I bought a packet of forget-me-not seed some years ago and have never had to buy any since! I always leave some plants to self-seed after flowering. When the plantlets grow, I just move them to where I want them and pull up any excess.
In the language of flowers, Forget-me-nots mean True Love, Memories, Do not forget.
Spotted the first ladybird of the year today – a Seven spot ladybird. We hardly saw any last year and as a result had so many aphids on the runner beans. I do hope this little lady survives and has lots of babies to eat the aphids!
The runner beans are still not big enough to pick at the moment and I suspect they don’t like this heat. Unfortunatley they are severely infested with blackfly, even though I planted marigolds around the plants. Despite our best efforts we cannot seem to get rid of the blackfly by squashing them. Even spent an hour the other night hosing them off, only for them to return the following day. Have now resorted to using an organic insecticide, suitable for vegetables.
I discovered a lone ladybird on the beans tonight, the first seen this year – just need a few more to join him!
We are picking the climbing beans most days. They get placed in a bag in the freezer and kept for winter meals. They seem to freeze better than the runner beans, which seem to get a peculiar taste when frozen. Strangely these beans do not have any blackfly on the leaves at all. Even some runners planted in the same row have blackfly, but not the climbing beans.
Just recently I noticed a strange looking bee flying around, with a long spike at its front end, which made it look quite scary. It did not behave quite the same as a bee does, and its legs looked mosquito-like. I cannot remember ever seeing one of these strange insects until a week or so ago, and now I seem to spot them all the time.
I managed to get a photograph of one today and then did some research. It turns out it is a bee-fly, or Bombylius major which is harmless to humans but is parasitic to solitary bees, wasps and beetles. They do however, pollinate flowers.
I have always admired topiary hedges clipped into animals, people or other sculptural shapes. So I decided to clip one of my box hedges into a topiary man. His eyes and buttons are dried Eryngium seed heads.
When it snows, we have a ready-made snowman!