Wednesday, 2 September 2015

A window in the weather

We have had lots of rain recently and, for the end of August, it has felt quite chilly at times. Today however, we had a fine morning and I was able to do some weeding, dead-heading and so on.

A Peacock butterfly warms up on garden furniture.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 1 September, 2015

Garden furniture warmed up rapidly and this Peacock butterfly, Inachis io, seemed to appreciate the conditions so much so that it was reluctant to fly. Perhaps it was still a little torpid.

Hollyhock Rust in garden. Stefen Hill, Daventry.
1 September, 2015

I looked around I was generally pleased with what I saw although my hollyhocks are displaying quite a bit of Hollyhock Rust, Puccinia malvacearum. This is a nuisance, but the plants, being biennials, will die back this winter to flower next year - hopefully without the rust.

Cardoons in flower at Stefen Hill, Daventry.
1 September, 2015

In the back garden the purple heads of a Cardoon, Cynara cardunculus, with much brighter colours than my photograph suggests, were attracting many insects. This member of the daisy family is occasionally used as a vegetable but I grow it for the handsome flower heads.

Eristalis pertinax on cardoon flower. Stefen Hill,
Daventry. 1 September, 2015

Hoverflies, so often mistaken for bees, were exploiting the nectar and, to some extent, the pollen too. Here Eristalix pertinax is tucking in. This is one of the commonest of these insects and, despite having two wings instead of four, is very honey bee-like. 

A hoverfly, Eupeodes luniger, on cardoon flower. Stefen
Hill, Daventry. 1 September, 2015

Eupodes luniger was also there, trying to make photography difficult by delving in to the flower head. This kind of inflorescence, a feature of the daisy family, is known as a capitulum; similar structures are found on members of the Dipsacaceae family, such as teasels.

This bumble bee, clinging to a cardoon, was very wet and it may be seen that the furry hairs are clinging together. It may have been caught in a shower but normally bees are quick to find shelter during rain. So this specimen could have been carrying an internal parasite following an attack by a conopid fly. Sometimes its a tough life being a bee. I am no expert on bees but I believe this species is Bombus lapidarius. It is among the success stories in the bee world and is spreading northwards into Scotland.

This is probably Bombus terrestris; I say probably because the workers are very difficult to separate from Bombus lucorum. I don't capture bees for the necessary hand lens or microscope scrutiny so we'll never know.

Thunbergia alata will flower until the frost. Stefen Hill,
Daventry. 1 September, 2015

The Black-eyed Susan, Thungergia alata, is flourishing but it seems to receive no insect visitors. The flowers are clearly designed for insect pollination and in South Africa it is visited by bees; it also shows nectar guides when viewed under U/V light - another adaptation for entomophily. In warmer parts of the world this plant has escaped from gardens to become a serious weed.

The front garden is still full of colour. Stefen Hill,
Daventry. 1 September, 2015

By and large I am pleased with the front garden but nature never stands still so I'll tweak things in the autumn.

Female Common Blue on Erinus alpinus. Stefen Hill,
Daventry, 1 September, 2015
A plant of Fairy Foxglove, Erinus alpinus was past its best, but it still managed to attract this female Common Blue, Polyommatus icarus. The plant is one that will probably spread by seed to become almost a nuisance, so I'll have to be vigilant. Both this and the common foxglove have been transferred from the much truncated Scrophulariaceae family into the Plantain Family, Plantaginaceae. (Not to be confused with the banana-like plantains of the Musaceae.)

Primula vialii has flowered again after dead-heading.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 1 September, 2015

I have done quite a bit of dead-heading and this Primula vialii has flowered for a second time. The plant has been given lots of 'common' names, some quite imaginative, some rather silly. I simply call it Vial's Primrose. It too was attracting the occasional insect - always a bonus in my eyes.

So, although there remain numerous tasks, we're getting there. But as I have said, a garden is a dynamic creation and there will always be work to be done.

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