On a miserable, dull day, this little string of berries seem to light up out of the greyness! I like to grow shrubs and trees that produce berries, so that the birds have some food in the winter.

String o' Berries

Arbutus unedo (otherwise known as the Strawberry tree) is unusual in that the current year flowers appear as the fruit from the previous year’s flowers, ripen. The fruits are said to be edible, but the blackbirds seem to eat them before I get chance to do anything with them! A wonderfully wildlife-friendly tree – I have previously posted a photo of a butterfly on the flowers of Arbutus unedo and bees love the flowers too!

Arbutus unedo

I find the autumn fruiting raspberries are much tastier than the summer ones. They fruit on canes they grow that year, rather than the previous season’s canes, as with the summer raspberries. Simply cut all the canes down to the ground in February and new canes will form and fruit the same year.

Autumn raspberries

Cheltenham borough council have planted 75,000 square metres of wildflowers in the local parks. This particular patch had a mix of seeds which included Flanders poppies to commemorate the centenary of WWI, Ammi majus (Bishops Flower), red flax and cosmos. These urban wildflower meadows are so uplifting to look at and the insects were loving them too. Well done Cheltenham BC – may other councils follow your example!

Wildflowers: Flanders poppies and Ammi majus

I picked my first home-grown strawberries of the year today – a sure sign that summer has arrived (albeit with torrential rain storms! This variety is called Hapil and I have grown them for quite a few years now. They are the sweetest, tastiest strawberries I’ve ever eaten.

Hapil Strawberries

The perennial oriental poppies are bursting open all over the garden. This one is called Papaver orientale ‘Ladybird’ and is a real show-off! The bright red petals are like tissue-paper and inside are black spots – hence the name. When the petals fall the seed head provides further interest. After flowering the plant does look a bit untidy, so I always cut back the leaves, which quickly regrow with fresh growth.

Papaver orientale 'Ladybird'

Papaver orientale ‘Ladybird’

Lily beetles can decimate your lily plants. Learn to identify the signs of lily beetle attack and how to spot the culprit! This lily beetle had been munching its way through the leaves on my lilies today. I spotted the tatty leaves and went hunting for the little red devil! When disturbed, these beetles often fall off the plants and lie upside down on the soil where they cannot be so easily seen. I also found the eggs it had laid on the underside of the leaves.

Lily Beetle