Gardening with Nature on the Edge of the Atlantic

All Creatures

I have always kept some ragwort in the garden since I first found the caterpillars of the Cinnabar moth and realised that I had a treasure trove on my hands. A few winters ago, I used up the last of a stack of wood in my woodpile and inadvertently uncovered dozens of moths who I presume were hibernating or the winter. As I have not seen any caterpillars since then I have assumed that I disturbed their life cycle. This is why I am so delighted to see these three creatures. In the past there were hundreds but ‘little steps’. I will continue to be very cautious when removing wood in the future.

I was rather surprised to see that the pampas grass is attracting Chaffinches but they obviously like the seeds. Unlike the starlings they do not bounce about too much so I was able to get one or two photographs.

The perfect model for a photograph. I am rarely so lucky.

Another magic moment. All it needs is a little patience. The pampas grass looks like a Feather Boa and is a perfect colour match.

This is definitely the year of the butterfly. I have never seen so many or so many different varieties. The Phormium provided the perfect resting place but it was the Hebe in this part of the garden that seemed most popular for food.

I always have mixed feelings about the Inula hookeri. It is sometimes described as a slowly spreading perennial. This has got to be the understatement of the year. It is almost impossible to control and smothers anything within throwing distance. However, it is probably the most popular plant with a myriad of butterflies and other insects and I cannot bring myself to get rid of it.

Rowan berries always create a wave of nostalgia for past long walks in the hills in Scotland on frosty Autumn days. Not all of the Rowans that I have planted in the garden are as robust as I would like but I was determine to have a few. The trick seems to be to plant them with other trees where they get some protection from the salt-laden winds. The berries ripen very early here and sadly never last until Autumn. A few days ago, I found out why when I discovered two song thrushes feasting off one of the trees by the house. The next day I went to inspect the tree at seven in the morning. It was stripped bare. I will watch all the other trees with interest and hope that I can get a photograph as evidence.

All that is left of a truss of berries after a visit from a Thrush.

So far, my most successful leeks have been grown from my own seed and I hope to hope to harvest this crop if the rain does not destroy them.

This interesting silver ‘bush’ is in fact a Russian Kale plant which I leave to go to seed for the birds. It is fascinating to watch them strip the ripe seed pods and as I always manage to get some for myself, we all win. I am still not sure what variety of birds favour them although I have seen a little group of greenfinches happily dining on the seeds of the rocket plants nearby.

The little valley in front of the house seems to be the perfect place for swallows to feed in the evenings and on dull days. They swoop around the house and the air is full of their chittering. For the first time this year a group of nine used the roof of my house to perch and launch their attacks on the insects. As some seemed very small, I wondered if they were new to the hunt and needed regular rests.

The herbs come into their own at this time of the year and although they are not as ‘showy’ as other flowers they are a magnet for bees and other insects. Here I have managed to catch the bee’s back for a change and at least the flower is in focus but I would never earn a living as a photographer.

The brown leafed Phormium Tenax purpureum tends to flower here much later than the other varieties. For some reason it did not attract the usual flock of starlings although there were two regular visitors each day.

For some reason the label on this says Hydrangea varieties. However, I think that it is hydrangea Macrophylla Sabrina which has turned a lilac colour in reaction to my soil. I am amazed at how well these plants have managed the early dry Summer.

I am still witing for my hands to fully recover from my fall and have been very lucky to have help in the garden from a number of sources. The result is that some of the garden spaces look tidier than ever before. I am not sure that my first attempt at creating steps deserves exposure but I like the effect of the pagoda and miniature bamboo which can now be seen properly.

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