Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Lilyturf

Liriope muscari 'Royal Purple'

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in September 2015.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Alternative companion planting

Silver Anniversary Rose with a scattering of Confetti (Mix)

Confetti for this wedding related rose wasn’t a planned companion planting.
It was only in reviewing photos I realised this fun, accidental spin.

Virginian Stock ‘Confetti Mix’ seeds sown direct in border back on May 23rd.

Confetti mix was intended as summer filler in area of limited planting depth.

Traditional companion planting is much more practical. Growing French marigolds near tomatoes is the first planting that comes to my mind here. I have childhood memories of my Mum doing this (the strong smelling Marigolds were believed to be good at repelling greenfly and blackfly). Ha-ha... the Marigolds certainly repelled myself and my siblings from touching the growing fruits that's for sure!

Companion planting is all about creating plant communities which have mutual benefits to each other. It can be an organic way to protect your crops from pests or it could help improve pollination of fruit and vegetable crops. Although there is limited scientific research surrounding companion gardening, many gardeners find it extremely beneficial to their plant’s performance. In this article we’ve put together the best known partnerships in flowers, herbs and vegetables to help you improve the health of your garden plants without needing to resort to pesticides.
Companion Planting Guide, Thompson & Morgan

Combining your plants in the right way can be good for their health and growth, as well as from an aesthetic point of view. This guide explains which species can work together and what the key benefits are.
Companion planting, Gardening guides, BBC

Planting combinations for pollinators can be seriously rewarding for the gardener too. This year our small front garden, main border above, has been an absolute joy to see grow and become a-buzz with bees, butterflies and other insects. This area was given a raised path edge earlier this year and has become everything I hoped it would be and more.

Last year’s plant residents enjoying this sunny spot (Buddleja ‘Buzz Ivory’, Drumstick Alliums, Sedum, Foxglove 'Milk Chocolate' & Acanthus) have been joined this year by new edging strips of Lavender & Thyme, a white Echinacea (Coneflower), Verbena bonariensis 'Lollipop' and Aubrietia cascading over the rocky wall edges.

August just had to bow out with a few more images to look back on. The next sunny evening we get, I’ll take a seat out here and sit with my cameras… that will be my reward for the hard work in removing a tired but well-loved, well-behaved bamboo that has given up a prime sunny space for plants to attract pollinators.

Lucky iPhone capture of small tortoiseshell butterfly :-)

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in August 2015.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Look out for Painted Lady butterflies in 2015

What a surprise to see you yesterday – just as I was leaving the garden.
(runs for video camera) 52sec compilation with background music, try HD quality.

Yay… early evening and we meet in the garden again (runs for still camera).
It’s been 6 yrs, last sighting in 2009 during mass migration year here in UK.

“The painted lady migration is one of the real wonders of the natural world.

Travelling up to 1km in the sky and at speeds of up to 30mph, these small, fragile-seeming creatures migrate hundreds of miles to reach our shores each year, even though none of the individual butterflies has ever made the trip before.”

You look so small on the sunny rock, but with a wingspan of 6cm you are one of the largest butterflies here in the UK (shame your friend was camera shy).

Buddleja ‘Buzz Ivory’ has arrived in the garden since your last visit, a tasty evening drink (all Buddleja’s are a great food source for bees and butterflies).

Your circus act of hanging upside down looked like a practical solution in breezy conditions (loving the eyespots and marbling of your hindwings, so pretty).

Ta-da… you beautifully demonstrate that a real butterfly is a much better wall decoration than ornamental ones. Thank-you for decorating my garden
last night (wishing for more sunny evenings to see you again).

Catching sightings of butterflies for surveys like the Migrant Watch by Butterfly Conservation can be tricky as you need the right conditions for them to be out flying (best chance in sunny days without wind). Catching sightings in your garden is also based in you being in it to see them too. By providing food plants for butterflies you help them survive and have a better chance to enjoy their beauty in your garden.

So could 2015 be a good year for the Painted Lady butterfly? Will we see it visit in good numbers here in the UK? Well, seeing two in my Scottish garden yesterday might suggest so. If I had read a few news items, then I would have known to be on the lookout for it (British butterfly bonanza could see 'painted lady summer and Fluttering back to Britain, millions of painted ladies: Distinctive orange and black marked butterflies expected to arrive from North Africa within weeks).

Perhaps other garden blogger’s have posted on this (sorry missed it) but I thought I’d give the thumbs up on looking out for the Painted Lady butterfly this year just in case you hadn’t heard and would like to see it. I also wanted to share my excitement at seeing it again by sharing images from my garden :-)

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in August 2015.