We were two weeks in the U.K. and returned home to sunshine to find all was well with the garden.
The broad beans had popped through while we were away.
The courgettes had, not unexpectedly, finished but had left us three courgettes which went into some soup.
The brussel sprouts are great. You either love them or hate them and I love them.
The medlar are still hard and their leaves look better from a distance providing a splash of yellow.
I was pleased that the cotoneaster were full of berries. After such a dry summer I thought the birds might be in short supply of food for the winter but it has not been the case.
Our first loquat or Eriobotrya japonica flowers are progressing happily.
The “Althea” which our friend Michel has given us is still flowering. It is not a Hibiscus syriacus as those have larger flowers and have long since formed fruit and succumbed to the autumn. The honey bees know it is not, as they are attracted to its flowers. Perhaps it is a variety of Lavatera. It is a much finer shrub with softer and more delicate leaves than the Lavatera I have.
For me the star of the back garden just now is the Elaeagnus. The wonderful perfume can be smelt metres away (I must check exactly how far) even when temperatures are as low as ten degrees centigrade. I admit the flowers are far from stunning but it is all worth it for that delicious perfume. In addition, the flowers provide nectar for the over wintering queen bumble bees.
Not far away in the grass is the basket fungus Clathrus ruber with a diferent odour. I am fascinated by its complex globe structure but you would not want to stay too close too long. The rotting smell, thankfully, does not carry too far so I am quite happy when it pops up in the autumn.
Close beside it another fruiting body has pushed out of the soil. This “egg” shape will eventually split and I will be treated to another red basket display.
The birds in the front garden have started feasting on the first ripe Persimmon. We have since removed the ripest fruit to finish ripening in the house but we have left the birds their share too. The greener ones will continue ripening slowly on the tree and we will collect these later.
This foray looked like a family affair with Mr. and Mrs. blackbird although I thought male blackbirds had much yellower beaks than this male.
Our pleasure at returning home received a shock when we visited the bees. The Asian hornets that had seemed fewer this year had profited from our absence and targeted the bees. We saw hornets exiting from “Iris” which we fear lost. We immediately put on a muzzle on the front of Poppy to see if it would protect her. We chose her as the front of her hive is flat and so easier to fix the muzzle. We have not decided whether this is helping or not.
Despite rain, which we thought would protect them, we found eight hornets had entered the muzzle in front of Iris. There were not eight dead bees in the trap so perhaps they immediately took fright. Once they realise they are trapped, the hornets lose their hunting instinct and will seek an exit until they die exhausted.
I phoned a friend to see how she was getting on and discovered she had experienced a surge in the hornet attack in the past two weeks (just when we were in the U.K.!). She fears she has lost at least two of her four hives.
Sad news to end on.