Thursday, 18 September 2014

Mists and mellow (also more creepy-crawlies)

One day last week we woke to mist and an awful lot of very visible spiders' webs. The kids were delighted! As was I actually - it all looked absolutely magical. There's something very calming about walking in fog. We've done a lot of walking recently because there's some fairly epic digging-up-of-the-roads-to-lay-cables going on in our area with four-way temporary traffic lights and other such joys, so going on foot is working out as less stressful. Fortunately my occasionally charming offspring are proving quite accepting of this.

Other mornings have been damp but mild. This year the local council* planted long thin patches of wildflower seeds (possibly an oxymoron there, but I'm sure you know what I mean) here and there and the result was long strips of flowers by the roads, looking absolutely gorgeous.

There weren't many patches that I saw, but maybe there'll be more next year (and with self-seeding perhaps this year's patches will be bigger next year) and it's a good start.

Sorry about the wonkiness of the picture but I was distracted by unexpectedly wet feet - it had rained in the night, and I was wearing trainers. I always forget that the ventilation mesh bit on top of my trainers lets water in. You'd think I'd learn, but there you go.

Meanwhile (actually on a completely different day, so not 'meanwhile' at all) my sunflowers continue to attract the bees - buff tail bumblebee also approves, so I think we can label the sunflowers a success.

They also attracted this... thing: 

I don't know what it is, and it's not exactly a vision of loveliness, but it's oddly fascinating to look at. Anyone got any idea?  Update: I put the pic on Facebook and my very knowledgeable friend Wendy found out that it's a yellow dung fly (scathophaga stercoraria).  I've probably seen them loads of times before but never up close like that.

* Presumably - I remember reading of a plan to grow some pollinator-friendly plants at the roadsides, so this would seem to be it.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

creepy-crawlies (nice ones)

I'll start with a poppy which has suddenly flowered and is providing the only splash of red in our garden. They're not lasting long as the slightest puff of a breeze seems to de-petal them, but they are gorgeous.

I'll follow the poppy with something which should be red but isn't:

This appeared on my arm while I was driving back from the school this afternoon - it wandered up and down my arm and then onto my hand, but as I was driving I couldn't take more than a very quick glance and think 'ooh that's tickly' and 'funny, it looks like a ladybird'. When we got home the Boy retrieved my camera from my bag and I got this one decent picture before it flew away. Actually I got a picture of it opening its wing cases just prior to flying away but unfortunately it's blurred. Then we googled images of ladybirds, and apparently it's a larch ladybird, something I'd never heard of before. I knew there were other ladybirds than the usual seven-spot ones, but I'd no idea there were plain brown ones. Nice to learn something new!

Meanwhile the sunflowers are finally flowering and proving popular with carder bumble bees and hoverflies. When I started getting interested in bee-friendly gardening I looked at some websites that suggested that sunflowers are popular with bees and some that said the conplete opposite, so I'm glad to find out that they're popular with at least some bees.