It has rained at last. It has been such a dry year that it is time to rethink strategies. The potager gets watered within reason but during a prolonged dry spell it is like watering a patch on top of a sponge. I sowed dill twice and each time it came up and flowered almost instantly. There was no glut of courgettes but just sufficient salad stuff to keep us going.
There is a hazel tree just beside the potager. We have pruned it over the years and it has given us some excellent straight poles but its nut production has not increased and it is now over-shadowing an old peach tree and I feel it may be taking water away from the vegetables.
Now the hazel tree has gone I may have another victim in my sights! The Christmas tree was left by the previous owners and has grown so large in such a short time. I do not know how much taller it will grow and if it too is draining too much water and nutrients from the garden. I must admit that I do not have a master plan for the garden from the design point of view and I would be interested in any comments from experienced gardeners.
On a more upbeat note the quince tree has come through the drought with no visible sign of stress and the quinces are already ripening. I have already been enjoying the quince stewed and have bottled some but I will wait until the main crop ripens to get on with the jelly, jam and chutney.
Likewise the medlar tree has plenty of fruit but that will not be ready for another month or so.
The persimmons or kaki are just starting to show a little colour but it will be probably Christmas before they will be ripe. It is nice to have some more fruit to look forward to when the pears and apples will be finished.
The apples and pears ripened early and the harvest was on the low side. There is always fallen fruit and the good advice is to clear it away to reduce infection from pests that may use it as a food source.
There is an advantage in not clearing the fallen fruit away immediately as the butterflies are attracted by the fallen fruit and I presume feed on the fermenting juices.
This Comma is kindly showing the white “C” mark, like a comma on the underside of the wing.
The Speckled Wood butterfly is a common visitor to the garden and is also enjoying the fallen apples.
The Small Copper seems also interested so perhaps an extra tidy garden is not always so good for for attracting the wildlife, it certainly is a good excuse for not being too tidy.
The butterflies are common visitors but the Praying Mantis is less visible and remains well camouflaged while it stalks its prey.
It preys on a variety of insects, it would be nice to think it was the ones that could cause me trouble but unfortunately it will eat anything that it can lay its long hands on. This one had a relatively friendly disposition until it got bored and headed back into the apple tree.
During the long dry spell I did not forget the birds and I have had various containers of water around the garden. These containers take various forms including old pots, frying pans and gravel trays. Not a very ornamental collection but very appreciated by the birds, among others.
After a recent visit to a brocante (explanation – a notch lower than an antique shop in France) I was tempted by an old pan for seven euros which seemed just the right size to add to the collection. (I try to avoid going into brocantes as they have such interesting things and even if you do not find what you are looking for you find something you did not know you needed, but at least at seven euros I got off lightly this time.)
The house belonged to a builder at one time and we have inherited a good deal of his stones which have come in very handy. A quick hunt at the bottom of the garden in the secret store and the right base was found.
As the stone is old and the pan is old it seems to have always been there.
I could not do a post about the garden without mentioning the bumble bees. They are still active although I have not seen any red-tailed or garden bumble bees for a while. The dahlias are still very popular with the white-tailed and the carder bees.
The fuschia is still flowering and is well-visited by the bees.
Now that it has rained there is so much to do in the garden and plants that have outgrown their space must be moved. Autumn is a busy time.