Or should I say sugar rush. The bees and peacock butterflies were certainly tucking in when I went into the garden at lunch time. The Doronicum is clearly dish of the day.
copyright 2020 Tish Farrell
Today in the Sheinton Street garden we have both sunshine and warmth, elements that have been lacking so far this month. And so amongst the Doronicum we also have a profusion of peacock butterflies, sip-sipping like mad at the tiny compound flowerlets. I watch them as I hang out the washing – the survival imperative played out before our very eyes.
The squeezing of HeWhoBuildsSheds’ new shed into the small back garden last year meant the loss of a herbaceous border. I didn’t mind too much, although it was a challenge to find new homes for the plants. Some were sacrificed altogether; some were thrown over the hedge to take their chances; some were planted outside the back fence in the guerrilla garden, some were put in next door’s guerrilla garden (I’ve started a trend) and others were just put somewhere.
Then in the spring, as soon as the tulips were over, Shed Development Phase 2 was thrust upon me. This meant moving more plants in order to create enough space to turn one flat bed into a raised bed so that the shed could have its own gravel forecourt and thus be accessible in all seasons. This also included digging up what was left of the lawn. The upshot of this HouseThatJackBuilt ‘school of gardening’ (fortunately no cows’ horns were crumpled in the process) is that much of what is happening out there now is a complete surprise.
For instance, I have no memory of how this crocosmia arrived among the doronicum. On the other hand, I do feel I need to give it a round of applause for cutting such a horticultural dash. Well put, that flower, however you got there.
Please visit Debbie. This week she has some handy advice!
When I tell you that this crab spider is sitting on a zinnia bud and the zinnia bud is less than an inch across, then you can see, that in real life, this spider is very very small. Even in the next shot it’s still twice its actual size.
It’s fascinating to think that the hunting instinct is embodied in such a tiny entity. These spiders (Misumena vatia) do not spin webs to catch their prey. They sneak about in plants, sometimes seemingly taking on the shades of particular flowers as camouflage. And then they pounce!
I think the spider in this next shot is being a trifle ambitious. Can you spot it, lurking on the Doronicum? Also an ID for the bee-like fly would be welcome – Ark, Pete, Brian…
And now here’s a view of the garden, where all of life and death goes on – and under our very noses.
Pyronia tithonus also known as the Hedge Brown or the Gatekeeper. The latter name apparently derives from this butterfly’s habit of feeding on clumps of flowers in gateways or along field margins. It is a midsummer butterfly and common across England from Yorkshire southwards. I spotted this one yesterday morning having a very good feed on one of my doronicum flowers, but refusing to open it wings. Then it moved to the nearby apple tree, and I caught a momentary display. When not visiting gardens it prefers the nectar of Wild Marjoram, Common Fleabane, ragworts, and Bramble. Interestingly, the Common Fleabane flower does look very similar to the doronicum.
Also known as Leopard’s Bane, and another wonderful member of the daisy family. I am not entirely sure which variety of Doronicum it is, but am plumping for D. plantagineum as this name means plantain-like in reference to the leaf shape. Most Doronicum varieties seem to have heart-shaped leaves, and flower earlier in the season than the one in my garden. But if anyone has a better idea, please tell me.
Nor do I know if this particular variety has any noteworthy therapeutic properties, but we do have a powerful lack of leopards here on Sheinton Street, so it clearly has some very active big-feline-defence ingredient. It is also standing up bravely against the hot, dry weather and, along with the drumstick alliums, is the most vibrant bloomer in the garden at the moment. Not for long though. The golden rod, which is all over the place, is about to do its stuff. I’m looking forward to the all-yellow garden.