Saturday, 27 September 2014

Summer Garden 2014

After the autumn Equinox summer is well and truly over, now is the time to look back at photos of my summer garden and start planning for next year. Rather than post one or two pictures every week throughout the summer it seems nicer to include them all together.

I start off in middle of May with irises that flowered well this year, they must have liked the wet winter.

iris

Another early flower is the geranium, they are very popular with bees, and I would recommend them for providing early food in May/June when the bees are becoming active again.

geranium,bee

I grow a fair number of plants from seed each year and get tempted to try out new varieties from the Thompson and Morgan seed catalogue. Sometimes I regret not sticking with the tried and trusted, however this 'marbled ' nasturtium did well and can be recommended.

nasturtium

Another rarer variety is Primula vialii which struggles for lack of water in my soil. The flower spikes are quite dramatic though.

primula

I love to see Osteospermums (African daisies) in other people's gardens when they make a fine display en masse. I grew some from seed and although they grew OK they were never the dramatic mound of flowers I had hoped for.

osteospermum

The wet Winter and Spring encouraged my Arum italicum pictum lilies to put out a lot of leaves and then flowers and now fruits.

arum italicum pictum

An early Summer invader of my house was a Speckled bush cricket (Leptophyes punctatissima). It is a female as it has a large ovipositor. I had to rescue it from the house a couple of times as it took to clambering over my ceilings like a gecko.

speckled bush cricket

The strange weather pattern encouraged my houseleeks (sempervivum) to produce its quite unusual flower.

house leek,sempervivum

I was particularly pleased to spot a small brightly coloured moth which I had seen, briefly, last year. It is Pyrausta aurata with common name 'mint moth' and it spent most of its time around my cat mint (Nepeta). It took many attempts to get a good picture of it, as it kept flying off as soon as I approached.

Pyrausta aurata

Another insect in the garden that I have seen develop slowly (like my caterpillar to butterfly pictures) was a shield-bug. The early nymph form makes them look quite cute.

shieldbug nymph,Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale

After a series of moults they enter a heavily camouflaged nymph from. I think this is Hawthorn shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidal).

hawthorn shieldbug nymph,Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale

My Everlasting peas have had a weird year. At this time a year ago they had only just started to flower after sprouting up very late. With a wet and mild winter they flowered early and have only just finished.

everlasting pea

Bees love them even though for some it is a struggle for them to prise open the flowers. These yellow bellied bees are a species of leaf-cutter bee.

everlasting pea,bee

Another plant I grew from seed was a very dark red Rudbeckia. Although they have grown and flowered well, I think they need a lighter coloured plant mixed in with them to emphasize the dark colour.

Rudbeckia

Back in May, I happened to notice a ball of baby garden spiders in a Yucca plant. They form a tight ball and when disturbed scurry out in all directions.

garden spider

With so many baby spiders I have paid the price later on with lots of webs among the plants and there has been some bee mortality as a result.

garden spider

Another dark flowered annual I grew from seed was a fairly new variety of Salpiglossis. They have flowered well over a long period and have a rather distinguished look.

Salpiglossis

A new garden feature that actually worked well this year was to grow the climber Mina Lobata up a bamboo wigwam. It reached about ten feet quite quickly.

Mina Lobata

A couple of weeks ago I spotted in the same bed as the Mina Lobata a young frog. I used to see a common toad hopping around the garden a few years but not for a long while, so was pleased to see it. I hope it will manage to keep the number of slugs and snails down a bit.

toad

Very late in coming into flower and subject to a rust were hollyhocks that I have had to water and nurture for a long while. The rust attack nearly defoliated the plants and I had to resort to a fungicide spray to clear it.

Hollyhock

I have had a colony (or more strictly speaking an aggregation) of ivy bees in part of the garden. They emerge in early September each year and soon start digging holes deep down into the flower beds and lawns. For more on them see my ivy bee page. Here is one with a load of ivy pollen about to deposit it underground for the young grubs to feed on.

ivy bee

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