Gardening with Nature on the Edge of the Atlantic

From Paradise to Paradise

 Three to four times a year I have a visit from pair of bullfinches who come to feast on the berries of the spindle trees and the seeds of the Sow thistle. It is possible that they may visit more often, but I tend to see them when they are by the house where there is a spindle hedge. At this time of the year a multitude of birds spend a couple of days stripping the branches. The annual Spindle ‘berry fest’ has not taken place yet this year, but I hope to be there when it happens.

I made a very quick trip to the Mosel region of Germany for a short break. The contrast between a storm-torn garden in the South West of Ireland and the vineyards in the region basking in the warm sunshine could not have been greater. The absence of vineyards in West Cork is to be regretted.

On my daily holiday walks there was much to be seen including a number of familiar wildflowers. Some others had subtle differences when compared with our varieties and others were completely new to me. I had to rely on the PlantNet app to identify many of the wildflowers and I am hoping that my identifications are accurate. This is the seed head of a Crepis rubra (Pink Hawks-beard), which would make a lovely contrast to the yellow ones that fill my garden with colour all summer.

The wild yarrow in my garden is a pure white, but has long lost its flowers. It was in full bloom close to the Mosel river. There was also this lovely pink/purple variety Achillea roseoalba (Violet umbrella).

If anyone wanted an argument for the benefits of wildflowers there was plenty of evidence on my daily walks through the vineyards. In some areas the paths were bordered by cropped grass and were neat and sterile. A few hundred yards further on you would come to an area that was being allowed to develop naturally. In contrast not only was this covered in wild flowers but was also brimming with butterflies, moths and other creatures.

Cirsium arvense (Field thistle) and Erigeron strigosus Muhl. (Common Eastern fleabane) were prolific throughout the paths and one could truly believe that it was still summer.

It was rather frustrating to walk through the vineyards and catch glimpses of numerous and unusual day moths and butterflies all refusing to stop for long enough to enable me to see them properly. I tentatively identified this as a Brown argus – the only butterfly kind enough to pose for a photograph.

The closest caterpillar that I could find to this one feeding on Viper’s-bugloss was Callimorpha dominula – the Scarlet Tiger caterpillar. The Scarlet Tiger moth is even more beautiful.

The vivid blue flower of the Viper’s–bugloss.

PlantNet identified this as Douglasii duni (Green-spot nightshade). There appear to be many different varieties of this plant and I am not sure if the berry is poisonous.

This ladybird does not seem perturbed by the reputation of Nightshade but maybe it is resting rather than feeding.

There was not one wildflower that I disliked on my trip. However, this Crimson clover has to be my favourite. It stood out in a sea of flowers and the deep colour is unusual.

I normally don’t covet other people’s belongings but I think that every garden should have one of these. I bet that they would scare any bug into moving permanently to another location.


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