Ant takes up aphid herding inside a Bramley apple flower

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Ants and aphids have a good deal, otherwise known as a symbiotic relationship. Ants protect the aphids in return for giving them a squeeze, or at least stroking them with their antennae, in this way encouraging the voracious plant-consuming pests to excrete their honeydew waste. And ants can’t get enough of it. So they herd and manage and protect their aphid herds, moving them from harm’s way, seeing off predators, in  particular ladybirds, whose eggs they will destroy.

In the next photos you can see the aphids have been ‘parked’ while the ant goes off to forage in the blossom and then patrol the ‘perimeter’.

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Fascinating what one finds on the way home from the allotment. The photos were taken one evening last week so not the best light conditions.

Lens-Artists: Focusing on the details  Patti asks us to look at the finer points.

In my garden after the rain

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Ladybirds seem to have been in short supply this year, so I was pleased to find this one nestling in my sage bush. Like bees, we absolutely need ladybirds. They are our natural pest controllers, preying on aphids and scale insects that can otherwise cause massive damage to food crops. As I was taking this photo, I was also delighted to scare off the harvestman spider that was creeping up on the ladybird. If you look in the bottom right corner above the copyright notice, you can just see the spider’s legs. Yikes!

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And here’s more evidence of spider activity: ambush exposed by raindrops in a garden pot.

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Now for one of my favourite plants in the garden. The flowers of this later flowering phlox remind me of jasmine and are half the size of the usual cottage garden varieties. It has just the faintest subtle scent, and doesn’t mind shade.

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Heuchera is another wonderful plant, and especially for ground cover. It comes in several hundred variations, and although understated on the floral front, it more than makes up for this with colour-bursting leaves that last all spring and summer. Also I see there’s spider lurking top left. I think it’s another harvestman. The bright green leaves amongst the heuchera are self-sown aquilegia seedlings. More granny’s bonnets to look forward to next year then. You never know what colour the flowers are going to be either – mauve, purple, pink, red, white. It’s one of the best things about plants that do their own gardening.

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The tiny fruit on our Japanese crab apple are just beginning to take on their autumn colour. Soon they will be a deep russet red. I don’t think snails eat apples. At least I’m giving this one the benefit of the doubt; it’s probably just been sheltering from the rain.

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And now for a flashback-fastforward: the crab apple tree in April – spring past, spring to come…

Today Was a Good Day