Four-Legged Garden Pests

The yearly cycle continues as various small animals try to set up winter homes in my raised beds providing endless entertainment and exercise for my dogs. They don’t ever catch anything as the creatures are ‘savvy’ enough to pack their bags and move to safer headquarters. I used to try and stop the dogs but they have learned to behave angelically until I have turned my back and am occupied elsewhere. In addition, once the creatures move on, the beds are safe for at least a year which is a bonus in itself.

Ironically the dogs were so busy digging for small creatures that they did not notice the young male pheasant strolling past them heading for the safety of the hedgerow.

The pheasants were not in evidence all summer but made an appearance a few days ago just as I decided to start feeding the birds for winter. There are at least three young birds (one male and two females) and three adults, again one male and two females. It puzzles me as to how they knew that there might be food as I had not started feeding when they arrived. Now they are waiting for me each morning like clockwork. If last year is anything to go by, they will be with me for the winter and provide a colourful start to my day.

In the last few weeks, the garden has gone from duller to duller as the storms have stripped the mature trees and shrubs and many were bare early in the season. There are a few exceptions. Despite their apparent delicacy, it is amazing how many rose plants produce the odd blossom even at this late stage of the year.

If I scoured the garden, I would probably find enough rose blossoms for one bouquet. As it is I prefer to leave them in situ in the hope that they will last a little longer.

Despite the miserable weather there is a new tranche of wildflowers in the borders. Most have very small, dainty, flowers and are not as showy as cultivated plants. Some are very beautiful like this Common Ramping Fumitory with its crimson tipped pink flowers.

Figwort is a tall wildflower with large leaves which is still producing new flowers despite the weather. However, the flowers are very small by comparison with the rest of the plant and it is not easy to get a good photograph. It also requires close attention to see how attractive it is.

Apparently, Figwort has a long history of medicinal use. Akeroyd described it as ‘dowdy and smelly’ which I think is rather harsh as this photograph shows. This year the flowers were host to too many wasps to count and I assumed that this was because there was a wasp’s nest nearby. However, wasps are Figworts’ main pollinators.

This Leptospermum or Tea Tree plant is almost totally covered in seeds but is still managing to produce some beautiful flowers despite the time of the year. It often flowers at Christmas but is unlikely to survive a lengthy cold spell.

The grass on the top of my hillside has never recovered from a number of dry spells over the last few years. The birds love the moss that has taken over as do various Club Fungi, Coral and Spindle. Although you can’t see it these tufts have a white base so I am assuming that they are Meadow Coral.

It would be easy to miss these clusters of Meadow Coral as they are just peeking above the moss. Apparently, they are edible although I cannot bring myself to try them.

The moss is also favoured by the birds. This nest was blown down during the recent storm. It is a perfect ball shape, made almost entirely of moss and has small hole in the side. I think it might have been built by a wren and there are certainly a number of them in the garden. The amount of work that was involved in making it is impressive and I have put it back in the hedge in the hope that it may be of some use again.

I have been trying to decide on replacements for my diseased ash trees and fell in love with this Honey Locust Gleditsia Triacanthos on my recent holiday. I suspect that it may not do well here but hope to find a relative that will.

So far, I have had no luck in identifying the neighbour of the Honey Locust but I can’t think of a better companion.

This chestnut tree with edible fruits and serrated leaves was also new to me. I am not a fan of chestnuts but would happily find a home for this tree in my garden. Seeing these new trees allows me to distract myself from the loss of the Ash trees at least in the short term.

From the sublime to the strange. My first glimpse of a Southern Green Stinkbug Nymph Nezara Viridula. It fascinates me that many of the first searches on the internet start with Pest Control. As this was photographed in Germany I don’t think that I have to worry about that and can just admire the amazing colours.

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