Posts Tagged ‘Butterflies’

Recalling the flowers and fruits of the summer as it races by…

The summer races by, and with different plants flowering (and fruiting) at different times, it’s easy to forget that the woad was blooming for weeks early on, and the Jacob’s ladder, the garden sage and the knapweeds, all these flowers now over and replaced by marigolds, cosmos, marshmallows, wild carrot. Blackcurrants followed raspberries followed strawberries. I’ve kept a (somewhat desultory) photo record this year, and here are some (though by no means all) of the plants which have been flowering and fruiting – in the garden, in the woods, and down by the sea. Beginning from today and going backwards!

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Squash, as yet unidentified, climbing up through the hawthorn tree, at 7 feet already and showing no sign of stopping – spot the growing green gourd through the leaves (Photo: today, 19th August 2016).

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An Alberto’s Locoto chilli (Capsicum pubescens) in its second year. No flowers or fruits last year, but both plants overwintered in the conservatory, and have burgeoned this summer. There are over 20 juicy fruits on this one to date, and more flowers appearing as I write. Seeds originally from The Real Seed Catalogue.

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4 o’ clock plant fully out by 5.30pm (6th August) with lovely yellow flowers and marvellous scent. Native to the Americas and in the Nyctaginaceae family (Mirabilis jalapa). Still blooming away two weeks later.

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As of 6th August, a small number of butterflies had appeared on the buddleia and elsewhere in the garden. Over the past few hot and sunny days, the numbers have increased slightly, mostly peacocks and scarlet admirals, along with one or two painted ladies and meadow browns.

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Into the woods to discover slender St. John’s wort, enchanters nightshade and scullcap.

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Marshmallow in the first week of July. This plant, which has been with us since 2012, has really come into its own this year.

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Out of the garden and into the wild dunes. Ancestor sea peas were in abundance throughout June and July, as was fellow legume restharrow.

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Back in the garden, a meadow brown butterfly visits the knapweed. And (below) I rescue several valerians whose leaves have been decimated by an unknown decimator!

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Red roses, strawberries, wild honey and a bunch of fresh and fragrant herbs for the first wild yeast mead of the summer. We drank it fresh and delicious at only a couple of weeks old.

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Sage (Salvia officinalis), moon daisies and Jacob’s Ladder doing their glorious things in June.

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Buddleia Coming Up to Full Bloom and Lots of Butterflies

IMG_8826 Buddleia & California PoppiesTwo summers ago on 30th July 2012, I wrote a very short post about how the huge buddleia here at home was in full bloom but that, unlike every year for almost a decade previously, there were hardly any butterflies around to visit the bush. It seemed a very lonely butterfly bush that year and we felt keenly the absence of the red admirals, commas, tortoiseshells, gatekeepers, large whites, meadow browns and peacocks (we’d counted up to two hundred at a time in the past).

Now, this Mark in Flowers blog has a modest number of visitors, it’s true. But a post that comes up again and again when I do check the stats, is precisely this one called Buddleia in Full Bloom but Very Few Butterflies. But it’s better news here this year as far as butterflies (and other insects) are concerned, so I thought I’d better bring things into the present.

20140715_115910 1024x768 enhThis is what’s happening today (15th July 2014) as the buddleia comes up to its full summer bloom. On the bush itself I just counted over two dozen butterflies, mostly peacocks and also several red admirals, tortoiseshells, three large whites and some meadow browns. And more flying elsewhere in the garden. It’s also been a good year for hoverflies, who love the St Johns wort and plantain, and we’ve been visited by many bees of both the bumble and the honey kind.

And the atmosphere is fuller, more vibrant and joyful for the presence of these creatures visiting the plants than when they weren’t here.

16th July: More butterflies today than yesterday, including commas.

Images: Beautiful but lonely – butterfly bush with no butterflies, wild carrot, california poppy, July 2012; this year as the buddleia comes into full bloom the butterflies (and bees and hoverflies) are back

Test and images by Mark Watson, Creative Commons with attribution, non-commercial, no derivatives

Surprise Gifts and Visits: Lemon Cheesecake, Tortoiseshells, Ice Plants

This delicious lemon cheesecake was made for me by fellow-in-Sustainable-Bungay Margaret after she heard me saying how much I loved lemon cheesecake and hadn’t eaten it for years.

When Lesley (also a fellow in Sustainable Bungay) paid us a suprise visit on Sunday afternoon she brought some of her homegrown raspberries. Charlotte had just cooked up a whole vat of Victoria plum jam from windfalls down the road. So we decorated the cheesecake in yellow and red, and enjoyed tea and conversation in the ‘porch’ of our old tent in the garden. Beautiful.

Monday brought a different delight with the appearance of over two dozen tortoiseshell butterflies on the ice plants in our neighbours’ garden. After so few butterflies for most of the summer their appearance really warmed our hearts – even on an ice plant!

Images: Margaret’s Lemon Cheesecake with Charlotte’s Victoria Plum Jam and Lesley’s home-grown rasspberries; Tent conversations (or therapy for the hard of hearing); Small Tortoiseshells on Ice Plants

Peacock butterflies starting to appear…

Ten days ago I wrote of the disspiriting lack of butterflies this year, a fact noticed by practically everybody I spoke to, written about in the Independent and confirmed by the organisation, Butterfly Conservation.

This week I’ve seen several silver studded blue butterflies on sea hollies and other plants by the Suffolk coast. And this morning to my enormous joy, I counted at least thirteen peacocks on our buddleia, along with several red admirals and a few meadow browns. There are also a couple of large whites in the garden.

These aren’t huge numbers but their presence in the garden is a joy and a relief. And it certainly deserves an update on the Big Butterfly Count.

Image: Peacock butterfly on buddleia, 2010 by Mark Watson (creative commons with attribution non commercial no derivatives)

Buddleia in Full Bloom but Very Few Butterflies

Update 5th August 2016: The buddleia started flowering a bit later this year than previously and is now approaching full bloom. Butterflies visiting the bush this morning (11.30am) include: half a dozen each of red admirals and peacocks; a few cabbage whites, one or two commas and some meadow browns. No painted ladies yet, and at the moment no tortoiseshells, though I have seen one or two earlier this summer. So the numbers are modest again this year, it seems.

Peacock Scarlet Admiral 5th August 2016

Note 19th July 2014: This post is now almost two years old. Because the butterfly numbers are far greater here where I live in Suffolk this year than when I wrote this piece, I published another a few days ago called  Buddleia Coming Up to Full Bloom and Lots of Butterflies in case you’d like to visit.

Original from 30th July 2012:

Every July the enormous buddleia in the middle of our garden throws out a huge array of blooms and on sunny days we’ve counted up to two hundred butterflies of different sorts making their nectar visit: Red Admirals, Peacocks, Painted Ladies, Large Whites, Commas, Tortoiseshells and others.

Image705 1024x768Just not this year. The bush has been in bloom for several days now with its characteristic scent, but there’s not a butterfly to be seen. This morning I saw a few meadow browns and a gatekeeper in other parts of the garden, but the buddleia remained lonely save a bumblebee or two.

In an article today in The Independent, Dr. Warren of the organisation Butterfly Conservation says this could be the worst summer ever for garden butterflies following two already ‘atrocious’ years.

I’m just about to complete the big butterfly count Butterfly Conservation are asking people to join in with – this involves 15 minutes observation in one place and then sending them the results.

Pics: California Poppies, Wild Carrot, Sunflowers and Buddleia – just no butterflies; Looking out for butterflies 30 July 2012