Tuesday 28 July 2020

A strange thing ...

Can you spot the hoverfly?
“It’s a strange thing but …” – how often have you started a sentence like that? Well, it is a strange thing but the very day that I mention the lack of hoverflies I photographed one – and almost by accident. Fascinated by the seeming explosion of lily blooms, I was attempting to get the focus right when I heard a buzz. It took two attempts but there it was, right in the picture, my sought-after hoverfly! You may not spot it too easily so I have blown up part of the photo so you can see the little creature better

Mind you, it might be a wasp as I am not sure I know the difference between the two. But that’s what happened. One moment wittering on about the decline in hoverfly population and, the next, photographing one

Compare the two shots
And, another odd thing. I also discover that experts cannot easily separate hoverflies from wasps – the BBC told me so precisely on the same Friday morning. The programme was  Farming Today on Radio Four. I learned that, of the 1500 pollinators we have in the British Isles, there are 300 species of hoverflies - yes, three hundred! Not only are they valuable pollinators but they are also extremely effective predators of many crop pests, each hoverfly larvae gobbling up 500 to 1000 aphids

With older hands in mind, I might add that it is no longer necessary to wake with the lark to hear a Farming Today broadcast. You simply go to BBC Sounds – the iPlayer of the radio world. You can listen to the pertinent episode by clicking here and see the associated website is here. Anyway, it all goes to show that we can each do something to help encourage wildlife in the garden. I know that I now make a conscious effort to grow flowers that attract pollinators. I hope that is reflected in the plants we supply to other - remember to check out the list by clicking on Plants for You at the top right-hand of this page

Brimstone Yellow (Wiki)
A butterfly, too!
And – another strange thing – just as we were bemoaning the demise of butterflies, we saw a Brimstone Yellow in the garden. It was feeding on the buddleia - often called the butterfly bush. I tried hard to get a shot but was too slow, so the photograph is courtesy of Wiki. That source tells me that the Brimstone relies on the buckthorn as a host so whoever planted up the nearby walkway knew what they were doing as I am pretty sure there are alder buckthorn growing there

Coincidence again
The shot I would love to get! (Wiki)
There is another photograph that I would love to get – a heron like the one that visits our pond. I am beginning to wonder if Codger has developed an instinct for this. Sometimes, I wake quite suddenly around dawn and go to the window. There she is (might be a ‘he’, of course) – immaculately immobile on the edge of the pond, waiting for the moment to strike. Somehow, it is able to observe the fish and itssurroundings simultaneously. Whether it hears me, or sees me, I know not. But those strong wings will scoop up the air and, suddenly, it lifts and is aloft and away over the school field

An attraction to the heron, no doubt
Actually, I do not mind this bird of prey taking a small fish or two as the pond is becoming over-stocked. At one time the pond had a protective net but I found that it created maintenance headaches. You may remember that I recently posed a question about the plastic crate at the bottom of the pond. One of the purposes is to create a hiding place for the fish in the event of a visit from the heron. The ploy seems successful – at least they have a sporting chance. The other purpose of the crate is to provide a variety of planting depths for the water lilies

Something I have noticed recently is how often I need to clean the filter. It is a fairly easy operation which is just as well as it is has become a daily operation. This is, I suppose, because of the number of fish in the pond. I had not expected them to reproduce in the way that they have

And the plants?
Well, we have not said much about plants today - I shall try to put that right on Friday. Plenty has been going on in the background that I hope to tell you about then

Demand for plants has eased off in the last couple of weeks. At last, I have managed to spend time improving my labelling - a definite weakness in the past. In case it is of interest, here is a shot of the wooden labels I am trying out in preference to the more usual plastic versions. They come with a very fine roller ballpoint pen. Some Amazon reviewers call it scratchy. I found it suits my hand very well. The test will be longevity, so we shall see (literally!)

No doubt, we all found the weather dull, wet and somewhat dismal yesterday. I am glad that I thought ahead and brightened up the patio, that helps - see below. And, the pears are doing well - also see below.  The rain was needed but, some more sunshine will be welcome - my tomatoes seem permanently green at the moment

... all for now from the Garden Codger

Keeping the patio bright

Pears coming on well

Outdoor tomatoes need more sunshine

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