In the back garden the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) has changed to its autumn colour and today the leaves are falling waiting to be gathered in for composting.
My Hydrangea from the Savill Gardens in the U.K. is keeping dusty pink flower heads, the soft colours in keeping with the autumn tones.
In the front garden I am still enjoying sitting outside and eating lunch on a small portable table as the big one has been stored away as we felt the warm weather could not last – but it has.
Our Salvia leucantha growing in a pot in the patio supplies us with plenty to watch as the bumble bees love it.
The carder bumble bees are Kourosh’s favourite.
The hummingbird hawk moth is a constant visitor and has the right equipment to get to the nectar of these salvias.
This bright blue salvia is in a pot too but will get put into the garden as soon as it has finished flowering.
This salvia has a beautiful flower.
I find it grows too tall. The wall is about two and a half metres. I thought it might grow less when I moved it to the front garden last year as it gets a lot of sun here. It has grown just as tall in its new position and I just think it looks leggy. Any suggestions?
We are still waiting for proper rain to give the garden a good soak after this hot, dry summer.
Nothing is the same this year and now our spring flowering Prunus “Accolade” has started flowering.
The rape crop for next year has already been planted in fields nearby but the weather is so mild that the sunflower seeds that have fallen from the plants harvested in the summer have now started to grow and bloom in between the rape plants.
This must be an unexpected treat for the bees.
Elsewhere in the garden, Kourosh’s lemon tree is enjoying the exceptionally warm and sunny days and it looks as if we will be able to take all the lemons off the tree before it needs to be taken indoors. There is a crop of about fifty lemons which is not bad for such a small tree.
I will be gathering in my peppers “Havana Gold” in a day or two. I have two pots and I find them very decorative, especially at this time of year. They are just right for me as they provide a good flavour in sauces and soup without being too hot. I just wash and deseed them before freezing them to store.
The Asters are just about finishing so I will have to say goodbye to my little blue butterflies that come into the garden for the nectar from the asters. I have been so pleased with them that we are going to enlarge the border to provide more space for them for next year.
The Salvia leucantha steals the show in the garden just now. It is delicate but I am going to try again this winter to see if I can over winter it in the soil. I did not succeed last year so I must increase the protection.
This is another of the Salvias that has been flowering throughout the summer and is still going strong.
I noticed that whereas the bumblebees push straight into the Nerine Bowdenii flowers that the honey bees take a more indirect route and find nectar by prospecting around the outside base of the flowers. I find these flowers very rewarding. Once you take the trouble to plant the bulbs, they pop up to brighten the garden when other flowers are fading.
My Cosmos is overgrown and falling but I cannot tidy it up as the Goldfinches have it marked and return faithfully as they seem determined to have every last seed.
This morning on my way to take the photographs of the sunflowers, I spotted a “sanglier” (Sus scrofa) running across the vines into a wood. These wild pigs live in the woods in France and can cause damage if they root around in the garden, or if they run in front of a car because they can be very large.
The misty morning convinced me that autumn had finally arrived. The rain too has started but more in a drizzlying sort of half-hearted, mean-spirited, grudging manner.
In anticipation of a better rainfall I decided to sort out my pots of bulbs.
In Autumn 2020 I tried planting a layered pot with bulbs to come through in succession in the spring of 2021. I was very pleased with the effect and left the bulbs in place to see if they would reappear this year. They did, but the Muscari was over successful and I preferred the more orderly first year appearance.
The crocus and tulips have more than doubled and the muscari were so numerous that they were transferred straight away to the bottom of the garden which is very inhospitable in the summer but hopefully the muscari will invade and thrive in the spring.
I have no sunny borders left to plant these bulbs so they have been deposited at random in a hole in the grass near our old plum tree. The theory is that they will flower in spring and then be cut down by the lawnmower once the leaves die back. Time will tell if this will work.
In the meantime, I have ordered a new set of bulbs for my now vacated tub and I look forward to planting those.
On a mission to sort things out, I decided to find a better place for my “Poire de Terre” (Smallanthus sonchifolius) that had been languishing for a couple of years.
Indeed, it did look quite like potato (pomme de terre, in French) except that the roots were more pear shaped rather than apple shaped. I saved a couple to cook before I planted the rest in a better position. Perhaps, I should have waited until I tasted them before replanting them as I cannot recommend them as a culinary plant. Has anyone else tried them?
I was on a roll here and my next victim was my liquorice that had been growing peacefully, untouched for a few years but was now throwing up new stems that I wanted to transplant and taste!
This was all I felt I could spare to put under my teeth. I think it has had a difficult life in my dry sandy soil. As I chewed the root hopefully, I could detect the same flavour that drifted up through the misty past from my childhood when we bought the roots from the chemist shop (pharmacy in the U.S.). The roots I had chewed as a child were thicker and more yellow inside, still with more water the plant may improve.
Overall I think I am better sticking to growing tomatoes and broad beans.
We have three large clumps of Asters in the front garden. I took these photographs last week when we were still waiting for the rain that has come at last. These Asters are pretty drought tolerant and are starting to spread invasively but I am going to enlarge the border to give them more space as they attract such an interesting variety of beautiful insects into the garden.
The Adonis Blue (Lysandra bellargus) female is brown.
It is the male butterflies that have soft blue wings.
The Blue Argus (Ultraaricia anteros) female has brown wings too but has fine blue hairs on her body.
The male underside is softer in colour and is well camouflaged until he flies.
This is a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui). I often confuse it with the Red Admiral, it is different, but at least it is in the same family.
This is a Queen of Spain (Issoria lathonia) butterfly. A regal name for a beautiful butterfly that even I could not confuse with another. The underside silver spots are really silver and iridescent. We used to see flocks of them by the roadside on our walks, but that was many years ago. I think the flocks of butterflies have been laid to rest by over use of pesticides.
This was a new find for me.
I could not find it in my butterfly book then as I looked at the thick head I realised it was probably a moth.
It is Autographa gamma. Although the moth and its caterpillar are nocturnal the moth frequently flies during the day so it looks like I could be seeing more of it as the caterpillar can feed on a lot of plants and the moth takes nectar from many garden plants.
I did manage to see where the letter gamma came from in its name. It is the little white mark like a thick “Y” on the mid wing.
The Asters provide me with a perfect viewing station for watching bees. Here this Dasypoda is just starting to gather pollen so the silky golden hairs on her hind legs are uncluttered with pollen and you can see them perfectly.
This is the best time for me to watch my little golden bee. One of my favourite bees.
It really is golden. I do not know if there are any ways to make this clearer in a photograph. (Tips?)
I think it is Seldonia subauratus but correct identification can only be realised by a much closer examination and I am quite happy to watch my golden bee without disturbing it.
This elegant bee is a male from the same family as my golden bee. I think it is a male Halictus scabiosa and a much more common visitor to the garden.
A less welcome visitor was what looks like to me an Epeolus fallax which is a cuckoo bee. This bee will follow an Ivy bee back to her nest and lay her eggs in with the Ivy bee’s eggs. As you can guess the cuckoo bee larva will then usurp the Ivy bees and hatch out the following year at the expense of the Ivy bee’s brood.
I just hope she does not find my Ivy bees in the back garden.
Asters can become invasive but are drought tolerant. Once the flowers are finished your flower beds can be tidied up and why not pass on the new shoots to some friends?