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.

 

Advertisements

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.

20180519_140859.jpg
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.

20170422_150153.jpg

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.

P5030182.JPG
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.

20180509_151335.jpg
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.

P5030200.JPG
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.

fledgling starling.jpg
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.

imag0253.jpg

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

Wildflowers -Day 26 of 30 Days Wild

This year I was given free wildflower seeds from Just Bee Drinks, Grow Wild and I also got a packet in my 30 Days Wild pack from The Wildlife Trust.

I decided that a the beginning of June I would put some wildflowers in troughs under my living room window as well as sprinkle them around the garden.
I decided that as some of the seeds were going into 2 troughs, I would sow each seed in plug plant trays.
I didn’t know what type of flowers I was going to get, so it was going to be exciting to see the results. I opened each packet and sprinkled a number of seeds into the trays before sprinkling the rest in various parts of the garden.
I watered the seeds well and now all I had to do was wait.

It was exciting to see the green seedlings shoot from the soil, and start to form their shape. They started to become greener and fill out with more with leaves.

It wasn’t long before the insects started to come and have a look.

Today I planted the plugs out into their troughs and already the bees are taking a look at them so I have even placed a little insect house by the flowers too.

I think these little troughs complement the wildflowers that have been sprinkled around the garden. They are all looking stunningly beautiful in the sunshine and myself, bees and insects are loving them.

 

A big thank you to Grow Wild, Wildlife Trust and Just Bee Drinks for these lovely wildflower seeds.

My encounter with ladybirds Day 6 of 30 Days Wild

Today was a blustery rainy day. I was being blown all over the place and felt cold and damp, so I decided it was best to stay in a polytunnel (a greenhouse made of polythene) at work potting up plants.

There wasn’t much sign of life outside anyway as the birds where trying to shelter in the hedges and trees and the bugs and bees were sheltering where they could, in the nooks and crannies within walls, log piles and in the polytunnel with me.

As I walked around the large polytunnel I saw a variety of spiderlings hiding within the plant leaves, a bumblebee keeping warm in the crease of a folded up parasol; but even more fascinating was spotting different life cycle stages of ladybirds amongst the leaves.

Most people can recognise a ladybird, they are probably the most identifiable bug in our gardens.  Less familiar to some however, are their eggs, pupae and larvae, which some may unfortunately mistaken for garden pests. Please don’t hurt them though as they are a gardeners best friend, as both the larvae and the adults eat lots of aphids.

Spotting lots of these lovely creatures today, I decided that I would share with you the life cycle of a ladybird.

About May the male and female ladybirds mate.

 
Females then lay about 200 eggs underneath leaves which are usually infested with aphids. 

These eggs then hatch into larvae and a food source is available straight way. These larvae can munch through an awful lot of aphids.

After about 3 weeks the larvae will turn into the pupae stage. 

As this happens the larvae start to shrink into a hunched shape.

 

.

Over the following week, the pupae becomes duller and shriveled,

,

before a ladybird emerges from within.

These new adults now start feeding on those pesky aphids again till October. They will then overwinter till the following spring, were they will start gobbling up all those aphids again.

 

So next time you are in the garden look out for these amazing creatures.

There is a great little ladybird larvae identification chart here

 If you do find these strange-looking beasties in your garden, don’t squash them! Ladybirds and their larvae are great friends to gardeners and are extremely happy to eat all the aphids.

.

Day 1 of 30 Days Wild

Today is the start of 30 Days Wild were The Wildlife Trust challenge you to do something inspired by nature each day throughout June.  Everyone taking part will be busy bees at the moment I’m sure; taking photos, writing blogs and doing nature based activities.

I can’t believe a whole year has gone by since the last 30 Days Wild.  It only seems like yesterday I was busily planning my months worth of “Random acts of wilderness”.

This year I spent my first “Wild” day at work

…..but don’t sigh….

I work outdoors surrounded by an array of beautiful flowers which attract a variety of wondrous small creatures 🙂

20170601_095818.jpg

The wild areas dotted with vibrant red poppies entice hoverflies, butterflies, a variety of bees and other insects

img_20170601_201523_295.jpg

Caterpillars hide from the mid-day sun and from beady eyed birds ready to carry them away to feed their young family.

img_20170601_202953_604.jpg

But a silver Y moth and a small copper butterfly look like have had a few near misses

img_-p5ogvy.jpg

img_20170601_205200_211.jpg

The ladybirds however, seem to be enjoying the sunshine and are helping keep all those pesky aphids away from the plants.

img_20170601_202659_670.jpg

Of course, my favourite creatures to watch whilst i’m working amongst the plants are bees.

img_20170601_195749_092.jpg

I think they bring a ray of sunshine to even the most dreariest of days.

All of these tiny creatures have a big part to play in any garden and I think we must cherish them more.

Hopefully you’ll all have a go at doing something “Wild” this June and show nature just how much you appreciate it.