Monday, 27 August 2012

Oh Deer

It's a stag's horn.

This is Rhus typhina, commonly known as the Stag's Horn Sumach. Our neighbour gave us a young plant many, many years ago, and told us it was called a Tree of Heaven. And that is the name we knew it by, until a few years ago when I did a bit of digging. Er, not that sort of digging, I meant research. Anyway, I discovered that the Tree of Heaven is actually a very similar shrub called Ailanthus. And the shrub we had was a Rhus.

The original plant was grown in the back garden, but eventually had to be removed to make way for a patio. Fortunately, it had produced a couple of suckers which we planted in the front garden. They both grew quite well, but one of them started leaning quite badly, caused by the prevailing wind, and had to be removed. And this one remains.

As you can see, at this time of year it produces red seed cones. In a few weeks time, the leaves will turn bright scarlet before leaf fall. If you decide to grow this plant, you need to be aware of a couple of pitfalls. Firstly, when pruned it produces a sap that can cause skin irritation. Secondly, if the ground is disturbed around its roots, it will grow lots of suckers. I always wear gloves when pruning it, and the suckers are easily pulled up when quite young.

There were quite a few butterflies in the garden yesterday, so I decided to take some photos:

Missed!  Got a nice photo of a bee on the Buddleia though. Thought I'd take a photo of something a little more slow moving:

Have you noticed how the snails like to climb at this time of year ?  This one went for a swim just after this photo was taken. Well it was more of a plunge really. Now back to the butterflies:

Gotcha!  Not the best of photos. Better luck next time. I've just read an article stating that butterflies prefer pink or white Buddleias, rather than the purple varieties. Well it's a bit late now; my buddleias are all purple.

And finally, a bit of weather news. As August is coming to an end, it's time to look out for the September anti-cyclone. This is a large area of high pressure that appears every year during the first two weeks of September. If it comes across the UK, we get two weeks of fine weather, but if it comes above or below the UK, we get two weeks of gale force winds. With the weather we've been having this year, anything could happen.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Takeaway Food

A new slant on ready meals.
I'll explain later.

This lily has just come into full bloom. Looked in the pot for the label, and guess what?  It was missing. The blackbirds are the main culprits. I don't know what they've got against labels in plant pots, but they seem to prefer to see them scattered on the ground. So I'm afraid I can't give you any information on this lily, other than to mention that it is in its second year.

A lot of youngsters are appearing in the garden lately. I think I've already mentioned the goldfinch family, well one of them posed for this photo a few days ago, just as the lily was coming into bloom. And there has been a family of house sparrows, only just out of the nest, which brings me to the title of this post. The sparrows arrived in the garden at the same time as flying ants were leaving their nest. Now in case you didn't know, there is one thing that flying ants are not very good at; flying. Really.

Once a year, flying ants leave the nest and fly up into the air in search of a mate. They only get one attempt at it, as they are not strong enough to keep flying around like other insects. After mating, or at the end of the day, whichever comes first, the male ants die, and the young queens go in search of a new home.

So the young sparrows, also not very good at flying, but still learning, really enjoyed themselves, catching the ants mid air. They were soon joined by a family of blue tits who also enjoyed the feast. In previous years, I've seen blackbirds taking the ants on the ground, but I've never seen them caught in the air before.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - August 2012

Managed to take these photos before the latest deluge:

Acanthus mollis, putting on a good display now that it's got more space.

Crocosmia, commonly known as Montbretia. This plant was given to me many years ago by a friend. This year it is giving its best display ever, obviously likes the rain. Glad something does.

Hosta, flowering in the front garden. I've not seen much of this plant recently, but this year's rain has given it a new lease of life. And the snails have had a banquet on the leaves.

Clematis Rebecca, atop an apple tree, flowering for the second time this year.

Buddleia Nanho Blue, a dwarf variety, it said on the label. It's about 8ft. tall at the moment.

Rose Handel, a climbing rose, having a second flush of flowers.

Bacopa, a tender plant that survived the winter outdoors in a hanging basket.

Lily, an oriental variety, flowering near the front gate. It was a spare bulb that I planted this spring. Would have given it a bit more TLC if I had known it had a flower like this.

Geranium Sybil, an ivy-leaf variety. I've grown a lot of these this year because they cope well with drought conditions. Alright, I know, but we were experiencing a drought way back in early spring when I bought them.

Lily Star Class, purchased two years ago, and giving quite a nice display again.

Achillea Lilac Beauty, this plant just gets better every year.

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting this meme. If you want to see what's in bloom all over the world right now, why not pop over to Carol's blog.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Can't See The Woods

For the Tree Lilies.
Yes, there's more of them:

These Tree Lilies are the ones growing in pots. Must be about 7 or 8 foot high. Well, they're a lot bigger than me, but then, most things are. The Leycesteria growing in front of them is about 6 foot high. And that's bigger than me too. I'm starting to get a complex here.

Moving swiftly on, the squirrel has been up to his antics again. Now that he's eaten all the cheap food, he's found the good stuff.

Lid off in no time.

And he starts tucking in.

But then he gets a bit erm.....stuck.

Manages to free himself, but loses his balance.

And decides to call it a day.

And finally, saw an unusual sight in the garden today; a family of goldfinches came to visit. That's not the unusual bit. Hang on. Anyway, the parents came to the feeder, but the youngsters were a bit reluctant to come down. Suddenly, they all flew up into the air, and flew off. That's when a sparrowhawk arrived, but he wasn't interested in the goldfinches. Oh no.

Here's the unusual bit; the sparrowhawk was being chased by about half a dozen crows. They put on some amazing aerial displays as they were dive bombing the sparrowhawk. The hawk kept resting in the trees, but everytime he tried to fly away, the crows attacked it again. Eventually, they all flew out of sight, so I don't know what the outcome was. Very strange to see a predator under attack.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

I Can't Get No

At least, not in its first year.

This is Lily Satisfaction, one of the first tree lilies that I grew. I purchased several bulbs from Thompson & Morgan in 2009. I planted most of them in the ground, but kept one to grow in a pot. The ones in the ground were very disappointing, but the one in the pot didn't even grow at all. At the end of the season, I knocked it out of its pot, and much to my surprise, the pot contained a very plump, healthy bulb. So I repotted it, and it has flowered every year since. Oh, and the ones in the ground ?  Long since disappeared.

This little chap has been living in my water feature all summer. Normally, the frogs don't go in there much in summertime, because it is situated in full sun. But this year, no such thing as full sun.

And finally, a few words about illegal immigrants. You know the ones. They come over here, and just take over from the local population. We all know about the grey squirrels, and more recently, the harlequin ladybirds. But have you heard about the Spanish slug ?  I kid you not.

Apparently, it has arrived here, producing hundreds more eggs than our native species. It could even pose a threat to our good old British slug. Speaking of which, have you seen the size of them lately ?  Team GB is really producing some winners this year. They'll certainly give the Spanish ones a run for their money. Well they would, if they could run.