An insect view of flowers

I love to sit and admire all the flowers in my garden and watch how much the insects love them too.  I love their beautiful colours, different textures and exquisite scents.  I sit and watch delicate flower heads nodding in the soft summer breeze and listen to the tall grasses rustling.  A tortoiseshell butterfly flutters upward as I brush past the lavender bushes, whilst bees buzz past me trying to capture the lavenders sweet nectar.  Hoverflies land on the wildflowers whilst trying to hang on as the breeze throws the long flower stems from side to side and tiny pollen beetles nestle securely deep inside the flowers stamen.

Sitting here, I wonder what these flowers look like to insects.  I sat down on the grass and looked closely at a daisy.  The many delicate white petals surrounding the intricate yellow flower head.  One daisy flower in the garden even has a red dot in its centre too.daisy petal

I decided that the only way I could get a closer look was to see what the flowers looked like under a microscope.  Luckily for me, I have a microscope attachment for my phone so I was able to instantly see the delicate structure of the flowers in-situ in the garden.

A yellow viola’s centre looks like its covered in white powder under the microscope.viola petal

A buttercup looks just as shiny and buttery close up and the stamens are large and protruding to entice pollinator in. buttercup petal

I always think hedge woundwort flowers looks like pretty little orchid flowers but they look even more stunning under a microscope.  It’s amazing to see all the tiny hairs on the flowers which makes it look furry close up.  You can see why it entices so many bees to its flower.horshound petal

Finally I took a microscopic photo of a geranium petal.  A close up photo shows the petal looks wrinkled with white hairs in its centre.  Under the microscope though, it looks a wonderful metallic colour full of minute dots.geranium petalI’m glad I took the time to have a closer look at flowers and it’s made me appreciate even more how they attract pollinators.  Next time you are in your garden why not stop and take a closer look at your flowers too, as you maybe surprised at what you find.

 

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Gardening

It was a lovely day for doing some gardening.  There was a gentle breeze and the air felt fresh instead of feeling still and muggy like it’s been all week.  I planted some hanging basket with bright colourful flowers, put fresh water in the bird baths, weeded around the soft fruit bushes and copiced hazel.  p5250066.jpg

When I’d finished I sat down under the hobnut tree and had a refreshing cup of tea and well earned chocolate biscuit.  I watched robins and blackbirds hunt around the grass for worms, whilst blue tit and great tit fledglings fluttered clumsily through the tree branches pestering their parents for food.10530952_10204577539542327_2874282285086763644_nBees buzzed around the heavenly scented roses and mock orange flowers, whilst ladybird larvae crawled slowly about shrub leaves.20170606_124911.jpg

Cheeky squirrels nicked nuts from the bird feeder and speckled wood butterflies flutter about the hedge.squirrel1.jpg

I love being in the garden.  Even though there is always lots of work to do, I enjoy gardening as I bring not only pleasure to me but the wildlife appreciate it too.

Sowing wildflowers

A few weeks ago I sowed a variety of wildflower seeds in trays and today I decided to sow some more. 20180518_161144.jpg The little shoots of the first lot of seeds I sowed are already starting to poke through the soil and I can’t wait till they grow a bit bigger so I can then plant them in containers by my front steps.

20180531_141037.jpgThe wildflowers I have sown are:  a variety of poppy seed, chamomile, oxeye daisies, foxgloves, red campion, and mullein. (just to name a few)

I have also sown other flowers such as: night stocks, love-in-a-mist and corn flowers

A number of the plants will also be planted around the garden as well as in a wild garden patch I made.

I dug a wild patch last year and it self seeded this year with red campions, alkanet and foxgloves.20180519_140519.jpg

It doesn’t matter if you sow wild seed in your garden or a garden container, it wont take long for the bees, hoverflies and other insects to find them and they will enjoy them all summer.20170626_180620.jpg

The Spring garden

I love this time of year as all the vibrant coloured flower start to appear once more in the garden.  There is so much to do in the garden right now.  Everything has shot up with the glorious hot weather we have been having.  The grass needs mowing regularly and everything has needed a good watering each day.  There is weeding to be done, wildflowers seedlings to care for and of course more plants to buy and find spaces for.

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As I walk down the garden making a note of even more things that need doing I see oranges tips and beautiful blue butterflies flutter by me.

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I watch as bees and hoverflies busily buzz around the wildflowers and speckled wood butterflies dance in the sunshine by the nettles that grow at the back of the compost heap.

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The bees favourite plants in my garden right now are: aquilegia, cotoneaster, bleeding heart and the Californian lilac.  There are many more plants almost ready to burst into flower any day soon too such as: lupins, foxgloves, alliums and dwarf azaleas.  There is always something in the garden to keep the bees happy.

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As I sit for a while by the pond I watch frogs hop into the water with a big splash and as the suns rays hit the waters surface I can see tiny water daphnia and the flash of a newts tail.  At the ponds edge I see a spiderling dangle from its thread under a campion flower and a fly sits on a leaf that’s tumbled into the pond and has a quick wash.

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Looking over at the bird feeder I see starling fledglings squabbling around the suet feeder waiting to be fed by their exhausted parents while others splash about in the bird bath to cool off in heat.  Blackbirds hop along the ground in search of grubs and insects to take back to their nest, whilst a tiny gold crest darts by me quickly and is so small it looks like a tiny shadow out of the corner of my eye.

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Its too hot to do any work at the moment so think I’ll just sit here in the shade for a while and just admire the wildlife that seem to love my garden just as much as I do.

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If you want to here all about what the garden was like in early spring then check out my “Wildlife on the doorstep” article in the Cheshire biological records newsletter here or here

Spring has sprung

At the beginning of March I wrote an article for the Cheshire Environmental Records Centre newsletter about the garden in springtime.  (You can read it here: Wildlife on your doorstep)

I can’t believe how much the garden has changed since then.  Drifts of snowdrops, crocuses and dwarf iris have faded away only to be replaced by stunning daffodil drifts, primroses and hellebores.

The garden looks lovely at the moment.  There are vibrant yellows, pastel purples, beautiful blues and pure whites.

Drifts of daffodils symbolise that spring has sprung and is now in full swing.  There are so many different varieties and every one of them is beautiful.

The primroses are also looking their best now adding vibrant colour under the trees whilst hellebores add pastel hues to the garden.  Hyacinths also look beautiful at the moment and their heady scent wafts down the garden.

If I had to choose my most favourite flower in the garden at the moment, I think I would choose….snakeshead fritillaria.  I think it’s such a delicate pretty flower.  The pastel shade of purple with chequered pattern is exquisite.

My favourite tree in the garden at the moment has to be the damson tree.  I absolutely love the the delicate pure white blossom and the hoverflies, bees and other insects adore it too.

It’s not just the plants that are taking centre stage in the garden though.  Wildlife is returning to the garden once more.  Those sleepy hedgehogs are waking up, frogs are relaxing under the hibernacula and newts are returning to the pond.

It’s lovely to see the hedgehogs waking up from their hibernation.  They have a big shake, a good old scratch and then waddle off to find food.  (You can see some hedgehog footage here)

The pond is absolutely teaming with life.  In the sunshine I can see caddisfly, flatworms, water daphne and waterlice.

I absolutely love sitting by the pond on a sunny spring day to watch the newts dancing about showing off to one another and laying their eggs on plant leaves.  (You can see some pondlife footage here though the newts are being shy)

 

Spring is such a lovely time of year, it really does lift your spirits.

The garden is bursting with life and colour now so get out there and enjoy it.

 

 

The “Sol Monath” garden

From the warmth of a cosy room behind a window, the garden looks dead and uninviting at this time of year. But for all those that brave the cold wet February weather will know that the garden is anything but barren and lifeless.
The garden in February sees the start of new life sprouting from the ground and to the Celts indicated a time for new beginnings. February gets its name from the Roman festival of purification called “Februa” but I have heard that there is also an Old English name “Sol Monath.” This means “Mud month” which I think describes the month perfectly.
In the garden at the moment, it’s cold and damp, and the faint sun can be seen hanging low in the sky behind the silhouette of tree branches. At a quick glance the garden doesn’t seem that inviting but as I look around I see signs of life popping up around me.
Bright green moss and beautiful fungi are cheering up the damp areas of the garden, and fresh cyclamen leaves are emerging from under the trees. bountqplrvp.jpg.jpg

Delicate bright green shoots are popping up from the lawn as daffodil bulbs start to awaken, and vibrant crocuses start to bloom.img_20170211_173215.jpg2017-02-12-15-25-16-048.jpg

Hellebore flower heads are just poking up from the ground adding pastel shades to the garden;2017-02-12-15-23-54-419.jpg

whilst primroses and dwarf iris also add a zing of colour.img_20170110_174308.jpg20170211_133736.jpg

I have even seen some weeds starting to appear in the bare soil, a sign that I need to wrap up warm and get out there to do some weeding.

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Snowdrops have got to be my all-time favourite plant in the garden at this time of year as they symbolise the end of a dreary barren winter and the new beginnings of bright joyful spring.img_20170131_172848.jpg

Their lovely bell shaped flowers weigh heavy with raindrops and they are a beautiful sight to see. It won’t be long till the snowdrops can be divided. Just after they have flowered and the leaves are still green is the best time to divide the bulbs into smaller clumps and plant them elsewhere in the garden. I love dividing plants such as snowdrops and primroses as it is like nature’s free gift to me for all the hard work I do in the garden.

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Later on in the day, as I walk around the garden I notice a mole hill that has suddenly appeared in the lawn and there are several blackbirds polishing off some windfall apples under a tree. The tree branches are covered in beautiful lichen, and delicate catkins dangling from the hazel tree are also a lovely feature at this time of year.  It’s lovely to watch them swaying gently on the breeze, waiting ready to drift their pollen into the wind as they seek out a catkin of the opposite sex.img_20170208_174024.jpg

And as I head indoors and the sun sets on the garden, the feathery plumes of the grasses (which have been left for winter interest) are baked in a beautiful warm copper glow.

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Life is anything but dull in the garden in the month of February.