There is still a buzz in the garden


Tomorrow is November and my sunflower “Vanila Ice” is just as confused as I am with the summer sun and temperatures.  the Halictes bee is still looking for nectar and being warmed by the daytime temperatures reaching 26 and 27 degrees Centigrade.

Carpenter bee

I associate the Carpenter bee with the summer but she seems just as happy here visiting the late flowering Nerine bowdenii.

Fuschia and bee

I think I am seeing more honey bees in the garden at the moment and the fuschia interests them more now.

Pink Salvia

The pink Salvia that none of the bees looked at earlier in the year is now receiving some attention.

Bee on Salvia

Look you are not going to get anything like that!  Your tongue is not long enough to reach the nectar.

bee on fallen Salvia

You have to be more patient and when the flowers fall it is much easier to attack the problem from another angle.

Carder bumble bee on Dahlia

There are plenty of Dahlias still around for the bumble bees but I notice the Carder bumble bees getting paler

Carder bumble bee on Nepeta

and paler.  These are worker bumble bees so I presume there are still nests with queens although there is not much pollen gathering.


The Hypericum is still flowering with no sign of let up and looks summery supporting the grasshopper.

Lycaena phlaeas Small Copper
Lycaena phlaeas Small Copper

The butterflies are still around.

Parage aegeria, Speckled Wood
Parage aegeria, Speckled Wood

These ones with the Peacock and Red Admiral are the common ones that I see in the garden at the moment.

Bee in Hollyhock

Some of the Hollyhocks are still attractive and attracting the bees but there are others I would like to cut down and get the garden more tidy.


But early yesterday morning I noticed a pair of Goldfinches near the patio.

Goldfinch eating Cosmos seeds

It was early and my husband has done well to get me some photographs through the window in the poor light.  I noticed they were eating the Cosmos seeds.  I did not realise they did that.  I always leave the Rudbeckia to be stripped of their seeds but it looks as if the garden will have to stay looking untidy for a little bit longer.

Broad bean seedling

I had hastily planted my broad beans when I returned from my trip to the U.K. two weeks ago.  They have now germinated.  I always plant the broad beans now to allow them to flower as early as possible.  Spring plantings flower later and totally succumb to blackfly.  I only tried to plant again in spring once when it was very early but I would never try it again it is not worth the hassle.

Rock Samphire germinating

The other thing that is germinating is the rock samphire that I saw growing on the cliffs in my post “Gardening on the Beach” and I want to see if I can get it to grow on rocks in the garden.  It is only in a small tray of gravel at the moment, the tricky bit will be getting it to take to a more convenient spot.


There is no doubt about it summer must finish soon but it has been a wonderful year in the garden.

The Savill Garden visit October 2014


I was very fortunate on my last trip back to the U.K. to be able to visit the Savill Garden on a beautiful sunny day.  In addition, they are exhibiting sculpture in the garden between the 1st. September and 31st October 2014 and I was interested to see how I felt about sculpture in gardens.

Bronze pheasant

There is a bronze pheasant running across the grass in the first picture which is quite in keeping with the garden as there are real ones here too.


The next sculpture I passed was “Flora” who was beautifully set against the background of the autumn woods.  She is much too grand for my garden but the sculptures are for sale.  I am not sure how I stand here as I am not wanting to advertise them but if you visit the garden you can see how many copies are available and what the price is as they are labelled.  You would need more than two thousand pounds if she is just the perfect addition to a corner of your garden.


This cheetah, made out of bronze/iron resin, is almost half the price and perfect for the garden with an African savannah feel.

Hibiscus trionum

I was more interested in these Hibiscus trionum which were flowering profusely in a rather shady part of the garden.  They are also called Flower of an Hour as the flowers only last a day but the abundant flowers also leave attractive seed heads.  I would have thought they would have preferred a sunnier spot and I want to try them in my garden next year.  They are annuals or short-lived perennials and best sown annually from seed.


Not all the sculptures were over a thousand pounds and these black wire mesh crows could be bought singly or as a set of three.

Roe buck

The Roe Buck and fawn in bronze resin did not have me fooled as they rested near a screen of greenery.


I do not have an artistic nature but I was surprised at the pose of some of the statues.  This little owl in bronze resin had been placed in a beautiful old tree but perched on a piece of wood totally foreign to its environment.


I have my favourite plants in the garden now and I was heading for the temperate house and the Mahonia X Media “Charity”.

Carder bumble bee in mahonia

I was not disappointed as this beautiful plant was in flower and full of honey bees and bumble bees enjoying the nectar in the sunshine.

Magnolia seed pod

Close beside the Mahonia there is a Magnolia tree with surprisingly rose red seed pods, much different from the seed pods I get on my Magnolia so I checked out its label.

Champion Tree

I mentioned to my husband that I never knew that another name for Magnolia was Champion tree.  It was not until I got home and looked into it further that I discovered that it is this particular Magnolia that is designated a Champion Tree because it is a registered tree.  As you can see it has been recorded and measured in 2010 and you can follow the link to learn more.

Juglans nigra

We were very taken by the beautiful walnut tree that was dropping its ripe fruit, but when my husband accidentally stepped on one we noticed the different odour given off by the green case around the nut.  Checking on the label we noted that this is a Juglans nigra, or Eastern Black Walnut which is native to eastern North America and not the Juglans regia that I am more familiar with.

Juglans nigra

The fruit looks just the same from the outside but the shells are harder and more difficult to crack than the European walnut.  I would imagine the flavour would be slightly different too but I have never tasted one.

Arbetus arachnoides

Close by is another favourite tree, Arbutus arachnoides.  I find its peeling bark more attractive than Arbutus unedo , the strawberry tree that is native to France, but I have never seen the arachnoides variety on sale.

bumble on Arbutus arachnoides

The flowers look exactly the same and the bees were feasting on them gratefully.


Another flower attracting a lot of attention from the bees was the Persicaria vacciniifolia.  I would like to have a bank of low flowers giving colour in the autumn in my garden,so I treated myself to a Persicaria to take back with me, but it was the Darjeeling Red variety that I found.

Shaggy dog

This “Shaggy Dog Story” in bronze resin is the ideal solution for the gardener with allergies and at just over a thousand pounds must work out a lot cheaper than the real thing counting food and vet bills.


Some of the sculptures were in metal.


A metal dragonfly hovered over the waterlillies.

dragonfly on pond

This picture gives an idea of the scale and positioning of the dragonfly.

Savill Garden

With gardens like this I would not feel the need of any man made enhancements.


But perhaps this “Pouncer” would add some drama.

Self contained man

Or the “Self contained Man” might provide a centre point, although I find his positioning here beside the metal railings far from sympathetic.

Ligularia fischeri

I preferred discovering flowers and plants in the garden that are new to me like these tall yellow Ligularia fischeri, “Cheju Charmer”.

bumble on Ligularia

And it is not just because the bees liked the flowers but I think they would appreciate growing in a garden with moister soil than I could offer them.


It is just sheer coincidence that this photograph of Cardiandra formosana “Crug’s Abundance” happens to have a carder bumble bee in it.  I was taken by its colours which are so different from the usual autumn colours.  Another plant for my wish list.


It was such a beautiful visit and perfect timing to see what can be done in a garden in the autumn.



Heatwave October

Saffron patch

Anyone wanting to grow saffron should not leave their garden in October.  Of course, that is exactly what I did to catch up with the family in the U.K. but I was lucky and I don’t think I had lost too many of the flowers when I returned a couple of days ago.

I was very pleased to see that almost all the bulbs that I had planted last year had come up and some will need to be lifted and split again this year.  This year we have had a lot of rain and we had been told by a saffron producer in the area that some of her bulbs had rotted in the ground, so I was concerned that I might have lost mine too.

I find saffron my most pleasant crop to harvest.  The flowers are not produced over a long period and picking the flowers on my small scale is not tiresome.  All that remains for me to do is fold back the petals and remove the three bright orange stigma and place them on a plate to dry.

I would like to grow an annual plant over my saffron during spring and summer, especially one that might enrich the ground and save me constantly weeding.

Any ideas?


Bumble bee asleep in saffron flower

I was a bit late last night collecting the flowers and this bumble bee had already settled down for the evening.  I’m afraid I turfed her out but she was so sleepy she did not mind me swapping her saffron crocus for another just as comfortable flower.


My self-sown tomato plant is still happy and producing tomatoes beside the ferns in the well.  It seems not only happy to produce tomatoes in this strange place but to continue producing them into late October.


With temperatures between 26 and 28 degrees Centigrade these past few days it is hard to believe we are in October.  The Cosmos is looking tired but I cannot lift it yet as it is still flowering and is being visited by the Carpenter and other bees.


The Dahlias are still going strong and are a magnet for all the bees – this one is a male Halictus bee.  My sister brought me some seeds of the dahlia “Yankey Doodle Dandy” and although I planted them in early June I now have several flowering plants like the one above.  I’m not sure if it was the flower shape or the name that spurred her to purchase the seeds.


One of the Philadelphus has pushed out a flower on one side whereas it looks as if it is going into its autumn shut down on the other side.


The Tradescantia has popped up again.


And the some of the Hollyhocks are on their second flowering.  The bees are still busy but some of the bumbles, like the one above are getting tired and their colours are fading.

The cool weather must arrive soon but until then I can enjoy another “last day at the beach for this year”.

Plants behaving badly

Misty chairs

There is no doubt about it.  Summer is coming to an end.

Misty arch

Still, September has been an amazing month and even after the occasional early morning mist the sun burnt through later on to give us sunshine.

Misty gardens

I have to thank my husband for venturing into the back garden in his pyjamas to capture these images!   I was too happy contemplating the mist from inside over my second mug of tea.

Vanilla Ice
Vanilla Ice

In fact, I’ve been doing quite a bit of contemplating about the garden.  I’ve been happy with my sunflowers Vanilla Ice and the darker ones which are the offspring of my last year’s Earth Walker.

Earthwalker cross

I can’t get enough of sunflowers.  I like the early single head ones and these multi-headed ones really brighten up the garden in the late summer.

Salvia coahuilensis

My new Salvia coahuilensis is going to be success against the Cosmos sulphureus once it has got established.


My Salvia guaranitica has flowered again.  I have to thank “Arthur in the garden” for the ID as I thought it was a Nepeta last year!

IMG_4748.Salvia guaranitica

It grows so tall.  I never knew Salvia could grow so tall.  I would not have a chance of getting any close up photographs of bees on them unless I had a very tall ladder!


I have another beautiful tall Salvia grown for me from a cutting by my friend Linda.  This is not so tall and has very fragile stems and several stems bearing flowers have been snapped off – I presume by birds landing on them.  At least the broken stems seem to catch well as cuttings.  I’ve seen no bees on these flowers and I wondered if the flowers were too long for the bees to reach inside them, but I have now seen a hummingbird hawk moth happily flitting from flower to flower.  It stayed at each flowerlet for a long time drinking the nectar – long enough to get a really good photo – but I did not have my camera.

I have some really lovely tall plants now but I feel I am not showing the tall plants off to their advantage.


Of course, the plants themselves don’t play fair.  These Cosmos have burgeoned to more than a metre and a half tall.  I grew the seeds from a packet and then transplanted some here and others grown from the same packet I planted elsewhere but those were much shorter.

Aster blue. Sweet Lavender

I tenderly cared for my Aster “Sweet Lavender” which flowered for the first time last year.  I bought it a fancy plant support in the early summer but  that turned out to be ridiculously too short.  It is tied up unceremoniously to the fence and looks very sad as if I am trying to garrote it.

Tomatoes in well

Plants don’t do what I expect of them.  This year the tomatoes in the vegetable garden put up a poor show but we let a little tomato plant that had seeded itself down the well continue to grow, to see what happened.  Actually, it has managed very well (sorry about the pun).

Close toms

I don’t understand how an uncared for plant can grow on a stony well wall and then provide us with tasty tomatoes long after the ones in the vegetable garden have gone.

I must try and sort out my taller plants, I would be grateful for any ideas or suggestions.

A plant I have been very impressed with this year is the Common Fleabane (Pulicaria dysenterica).

Megachile 2

It is a wild flower but in late summer it is a magnet for all sorts of insects.


I have collected lots of the seeds and I want to introduce it to the wilder parts of the back garden.

Fritillary perhaps

I think this might be a Fritillary butterfly.  The Common Fleabane does attract lots of different insects, it is just I tend to photograph the bees.  I am a little nervous of introducing a wild flower into the garden in case it gets out of hand but it is as attractive as many cultivated flowers.

My only worry is that it too may behave badly once it is inside the garden.