30 Days Wild – Day 10

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_10Day 10 of 30 Days Wild and it’s our wedding anniversary! Seventeen (in)glorious years! 17 doesn’t seem to be one of those anniversaries where you buy something special – 2 for paper, 25 for silver etc., but Chris has just bought himself (sorry us!) a Pit BBQ, so I guess it’s become the BBQ anniversary.

ProseccoI had planned to eat outside this evening anyway – I’d ordered American crayfish (the ones you’re supposed to eat to protect out native ones) from our fish supplier at work, but sod’s law being what it is, they couldn’t get any this week. So it’s a burger instead – not quite got the same cache, but what can you do. I’m sitting typing outside while the coals heat up and it’s starting to drizzle – sometimes life just doesn’t quite live up to expectations. But it is at least warm drizzle and it’s Friday night and I’m outside, so not really complaining.

When we got married in Scotland all those moons ago, the dolphins in Aberdeen harbour appeared and put on a display that felt like it was just for us. 17 years later and we haven’t got anything quite so spectacular to help us celebrate, but I’m honestly just as happy watching the wildlife in our garden. There’s something special about knowing that the bees and the birds are all there in part at least because of our lazy attitude to weeding and organic approach to gardening.

Asparagus beetleWe decided to grill some of the asparagus from the garden, but first we had to remove its residents – the asparagus beetles. They are such striking beetles, it’s just a pity they have quite such a taste for our asparagus. Fortunately for them there was a lot of asparagus left that we’d let grow too big – so it was too tough for us to eat, but the beetles didn’t seem to mind.

Even though it was not exactly a sunny evening, the bees and hoverflies were out in force. I particularly liked this Early Bumblebee, such a brightly coloured  little guy.

Early bumblebee

Managed to get photos of 2 species of hoverfly tonight – one large one (Narcissus Bulb Fly) and a much smaller one (Marmalade Hoverfly).

Narcissus bulb fly

Marmalade

Bought flowersChris had bought me a large bunch of flowers, which we took outside to decorate the table for the BBQ. They were big, bold, beautiful flowers, but for all the time they were out in the garden, none of the bees or hoverflies came anywhere near them. They clearly preferred our native weeds, as they flew right past the vase even though it was very close to the natural flowers. Again it sort of justifies our decision to have a “wild” garden, as we’d much rather have the subtler British flowers buzzing with insects, than the showier cultivated varieties.

Corydalis 30 WEEDSAnd finally as always the latest weed in my 30 Lazy Weeds from our garden – Yellow Corydalis. This is apparently a garden escapee that originally grew in the Alps, but has now spread round Britain. I probably shouldn’t like it as it is a non-native plant, but it’s hard not to like. I’ve always been attracted to plants with more unusual shaped flowers or leaves and the little yellow trumpets fit into this category. It grows easily in shade and unloved areas of the garden, so brightens up our driveway no end.

 

30 Days Wild – Day 9

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_09

 

Day 9 of 30 Days Wild and I managed to finish work early enough to get out and about. I decided to stop at a little nature reserve on the way home, but first I went strawberry picking. The season is just starting and the local fruit farm hadn’t even got their sign out advertising the strawberries. This meant the strawberry field (well poly-tunnel actually) was deserted apart from me.  It was lovely and peaceful and the lack of people meant there were lots of bird and bees about instead.

StrawberriesI took my punnet of strawberries with me to Boynes Coppice and Meadows Nature Reserve which was just round the corner. (No I didn’t scoff all of them, but those I did were very nice eaten in the fresh air!) The reserve consists of a series of meadows managed by Worcester Wildlife Trust. They have a wide variety of flowers and grasses and consequently attract plenty of insect life.

View

There were lots of hoverflies about – a group of insects I know nothing about, but once again the Facebook community identified a couple for me. The Common and the Large Tiger Hoverfly.

Helophilus pendulusHelophilus trivittatus (2)

Having chased Common Blue Butterflies round the last couple of sites I’ve been to, I was amazed to find a mating pair of them today. They even stayed put to let me take photos (I guess they had other things on their tiny minds!)

Mating common blues

There were bees everywhere and lots of different species – below (I think) are Honey Bee, Buffish Mining Bee, Hawthorn Mining Bee and Ashy Mining Bee. The whole meadow was humming with the sound of bees, although they were drowned out sometimes by the hoverflies!

Honey bee

DSC_4779

Andrena haemorrhoa

Andrena cineraria

There were a few small moths about, a Burnet Companion which I’ve seen before and a Common Yellow Conch which I hadn’t.

Burnet Companion

Common Yellow Conch (2)

The final two additions to today’s insect selection were a grasshopper (possibly a Meadow one) and some kind of huge sawfly. The sawfly really was a whopper, sitting on the gate, guarding the meadow!

Meadow Grasshopper

Xiphydria sawfly

I find Boynes Coppice an incredibly relaxing place to visit. It’s off the beaten track, away from traffic noise and quite often I’m the only one there (as I was today). You can sit on the path and watch the insects buzzing all around or just watch the clouds drifting by. I love these little nature reserves that feel like your own little secret retreat!

Aquilegia 30 WEEDS

Latest weed for 30 Lazy Garden Weeds is the Columbine or Aquilegia. I love the fact that Columbine comes from the Latin for dove as the flower is supposed to look like 5 doves with their heads together. We have a huge variety of these in the garden – everything from pretty much white, to deep purple. Some are two toned, some all the same colour. Some have additional layers or ruffles, others like this one are slightly more restrained. All of them though have got here under their own steam and generally seeded themselves around the place. They are great for bees, some of whom go in the conventional way, but others cheat and drill a hole in the top to access the nectar directly. Lots of the flowers in our garden have tiny holes where the bees have cheated!