Sunday, 29 November 2015

Garden in 2015

I noticed when reviewing my posts for 2015, with the year all but over, that I had neglected to post a set of garden photographs - apart from one on garden spiders. As the years go by I seem to have been more impressed by the insects than the shrubs and annual flowers I grow, perhaps because I have already have taken pictures of them all. The other reason is that November has proven a wet and cloudy month with no opportunity for a long walk. Still we did need the rain, October had been dry but as a result of the recent rain the area has come out overall as an average year for rainfall.

Starting the year in January I was delighted that a migratory Fieldfare took up residence in my crab apple tree for a week or so. I have always seen them in flocks, so was surprised to see one all on its own for a long period. It looked very fit and healthy.


My Viburnum farreri 'Fragrans' shrub has grown to quite a size. It is confused by our climate and regularly flowers from October to May each year. It attracts a range of insects whenever there is a warm, sunny day during the winter. In this case a fine Red Admiral butterfly was seen in late March. The winter proved mild with no persistent snow.

red admiral,butterfly

I used to think there were only two kinds of bee: honey bees and bumble bees there are in fact hundreds of different species. One of the early ones are the hairy-footed flower bee (Anthophora plumipes). Perhaps the hairy feet help keep it warm in the early spring! I grow a patch of lungwort (Pulmonaria) and this is very popular with all kinds of bee when it flowers in April, but particularly with the hairy-footed variety.

hairy footed bee

Also in April over-wintering peacock butterflies emerged in the Spring sunshine. This one was feeding an rock cress (Arabis), an early flower liked by many insects.


Come Spring, and you think of flowers, but it also the time for the awakening of insects. For the first time I had planted a lily bulb in a container; amazing how little time it took for these lily beetles to find them - I presume they have a very keen sense of smell. They were so successful in laying their eggs on the leaves that I had to resort to insecticide.

lily beetle

At the same time a strange insect was often hovering over the Spring flowers. It is a bee-fly, a type of fly that is a mimic of and parasitic on bees. It puts its eggs among the eggs of bees which the larvae then eat. So in terms of supporting bees they are bad news.

bee fly

I have two colonies of solitary bee in the garden, one is active in Spring and one in Autumn. I have a separate long posting about my Ivy bees. The other colony are of a smaller bee I think it is Andrena minulata but there a lot of similar, small miner bees. I first spotted it last year, and it was very active for a couple of months digging many holes in the dry weather during March and April. You can see this specimen has a heavy load of pollen to take back underground as food for the young when they hatch out next Spring.

miner bee

With no standing water around it is rare to see damselflies and dragonflies in the garden, so I was pleased to see a large red damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) in early May.


A huge range of insects is often neglected by us because they hide away so effectively. Moths are one such group and if we called them 'night butterflies' our perceptions might change. This is a lovely bright yellow one that happened to fly into my kitchen - a brimstone moth much more colourful than a brimstone butterfly.

brimstone moth

In the middle of May I saw this female holly blue butterfly in the garden a fair deal, it seemed to have taken my garden as its territory. It is quite rare to see the open wings, they usually hold them tightly closed.

holly blue butterfly

in May 2011 I spotted a couple of Rose Chafer beetles cavorting on a pyracantha bush. I have kept an eye out for them ever since and was glad to see another couple in early June this year. They seem particularly keen on 'Firethorn' blossom .

rose chafer beetle

Also in June I saw a young speckled bush-cricket (Leptophyes punctatissima) clambering around my newly planted out containers. The speckling makes it quite an attractive insect and it is beautifully camouflaged.


Moving on to the end of June another insect caught my eye, it also seemed resident among the plant tubs. It's a hawthorn shieldbug.

hawthorn shieldbug

Moving into July there were more flowers to be seen. The lily that I had rescued from being eaten by lily beetles came into flower.


There was a continuous dry spell up to the middle of July, and I was for ever watering containers and a few garden plants. My prayers for rain were then answered and the rest of July and August proved fairly wet and overcast. By the end of July most of the plants I had grown from seed were in flower including a Canary creeper (Tropaeolum peregrinum) which has lovely flowers. Unfortunately when it turned wet it was eaten away by snails and did not prosper.

canary creeper

A plant that really prospered from July to November was Black-eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata). It is a vigorous climber and it grew eight feet up canes. I had it in pots either side of the front door. Here it was in September.

black-eyed susan

Another climber is the Passion Flower that seeds itself around the garden, I can't remember where it I originally planted it. At one stage it had clambered all over the garage.

passion flower

On to November and without a sharp frost, quite a few ‘summer’ flowers have kept going. My hollyhock were attacked by snails and then fungi, so I was left with only this fine specimen very late into flower.


Finally a week ago (mid November) a rare glimpse of the sun caught this nasturium giving it a lovely golden glow. It's still flowering.


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