Sunday, 31 July 2016

Brief flutter & leg stretch

July seems to have run away all by itself and has ended with a brief game of garden hide and seek. The game took place on July 27th and players were the gardener tidying the potting shed, the first small tortoiseshell butterfly garden sighting for 2016 and the tadpoles having an extended holiday in the garden pond ;-)

Both the small tortoiseshell and the tadpoles made a great job of hiding from the gardener’s camera but they were finally tagged out. As the other buddleja plants with white flowers get close to flowering, verbena bonariensis and cone flowers too, more games of hide and seek can be expected with visiting butterflies and other pollinators.

July 27th, the small tortoiseshell butterfly begins its brief game.

The small tortoiseshell butterfly finally gets tagged by the gardener's camera.

The small tortoiseshell butterfly gets tagged hiding in the lawn too.

A quite different game of hide and seek can be expected with the tadpoles during August. This is really going to be a fun month with the wildlife of the garden pond. After much garden pond watching, July finally ended with a brief back leg stretch from a tadpole - yay!!

Gotcha - with a bit of alteration to colour levels in photoshop :-)
The hardest garden hide and seek game of all – evidence of tadpoles with legs!

I wonder if anyone else has playing hide and seek during July? What have been your fav July moments? I must get blog browsing to see. Wishing you all a great August for wildlife and gardening :-)

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in July 2016.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Glasshouses revisited – Glasgow’s Kibble Palace

It’s July, we are supposed to be in summer, what better month is there to celebrate garden visits than now? As my blog sidebar chat states, you don’t need sensible shoes here. I should probably add - you don’t need an umbrella or the current month either ;-)

Today, we are clicking our heels back to April 13th. You may well ask why. Answer: Old pheasant’s eye wasn’t the only plant that caught my eye on our wander through the Glasshouses at Glasgow’s Botanical Gardens. We particularly enjoyed our visit through The Kibble Palace which went through a restoration lasting three years from 2003-2006. If you follow the link you can take a virtual tour and find out more on its history.

I wonder if the handle above is operational today - I love its aged look.
The Kibble Palace holds a national Tree Fern collection (planted back in the 1880’s).

Some Tree Fern trunks were stunning clad in a living green tapestry.
As much as I’m embracing plants for colour & pollinators, I still love green & foliage.

The neat foliage of the aluminum plant (Pilea cadierei) always catches my eye.
A glasshouse favourite perhaps – seen at Edinburgh Botanical Gardens too :-)

A strange curtain of leaves is spotted in another glasshouse, what was this?
The leaf patterns made me think of metal work & rivets – a sculpture subject?

The underside of the leaf reveals a neat pattern of collections of fern spores.
Back in the garden I’ve grown a variety of ferns, I'm getting more selective now.

Just inside The Kibble Palace, a pretty wood sorrel in a Scottish heath collection.
I really should add this is delicate flower & foliage to the garden wildflower list :-)

Just inside The Kibble Palace, a fantastic collection of carnivorous plants.
I lost a different variety a few years ago – under glass may work here too.

Back to another glasshouse with a large flowering cacti - wow, what spikes!
Real flowers & buds are so much better than false glued-on ones aren’t they?

The finale photo, eye catching Bird of paradise flowers in The Kibble Palace.
It’s great to see tropical rainforest plants growing in Glasgow’s West End :-)

It’s fair to say that Glasgow and Edinburgh’s Botanical Gardens are completely different in style and planting. Edinburgh I am very familiar with and have many fond memories, here on my first visit to Glasgow, I found it had a charm all of its own. Different is good when it comes to gardens, giving the gardener inspiration in a variety of ways.

Where I find Edinburgh more of a tourist attraction, its scale and location makes it so, Glasgow came through to me to be a garden of the people and I guess its location makes that so too. I loved the idea of a garden for the locals and anyone just passing by. Being a plantswoman at heart, Edinburgh, I love for its plant collections especially in the Chinese Hillside Garden.

On entering the Kibble Palace, where tourists were also seen, I will always remember the trio of smart looking, elderly ladies (locals we were guessing) on a very sculptural bench. They looked like they were just in for a natter – fantastic to see. Our wander felt like we were on a park walk, but indoors, under glass and with tropical plants. There was a warmth and welcome felt here.

Our wander outside, again a park feel with beds of seasonal bedding and mature trees, didn’t take in the whole garden as we had a time limit on our visit. We did pass a nice well-equipped children’s play area enclosed to the side of a main path and there seemed to be a community garden too – what a great idea! Making a search for a link I found this to be, The Children’s Garden and felt it would be great to share this too.

“Our aims are to promote good healthy food, healthy outdoor exercise, friendship, arts and music, and to support schools (but not necessarily all at the same time!) In the ten years of The Children’s Garden we've done some of that, but there's plenty of scope to develop this remarkable project further..”
The Children’s Garden website

The Children’s Garden website

I love the request for help with the heavier work. Artists and storytellers in a garden setting is just great to see too. I expect storytelling may be found in the extensive and impressive list of events run by Edinburgh Botanical Gardens and connected gardens, Benmore, Dawyck and Logan Botanical gardens too. There’s also an Edible Gardening Project at Edinburgh.

The Kibble Palace was my favourite part of Glasgow Botanical Gardens. I loved the building, atmosphere and plants - especially the walk through the tree ferns. There is no charge to visit it or any other Glasshouses at Glasgow which are open 10am – 6pm (4:15pm during winter). It’s no surprise then that the glasshouse benches see friends meeting up :-)

The gardens themselves are open from 7am to dusk all year round. On street parking is available but limited on Queen Margaret Drive so you may have to drive around nearby streets to get parked, as we did.

Garden Tour over, sadly no Painted Lady butterflies toured my garden over the weekend. I do hope other parts of the UK saw them. Rain visited many times, as it has this past week. Friday evening was dry, so it was a late blast of garden border clearing to get the Monarda plants finally in - ready for the Painted Lady and any other passing butterflies and bees.

Needless to say, here in Scotland and with my small pond edging this border, the midge was out too. I may have completed the garden border by artificial light, but by gosh there was nothing artificial with the Scottish midge bite. At 11:30pm this was my latest gardening end on record too - word must have got around that there was a mad and tasty gardener out! I blame the bright night for keeping me out so long - the outside light didn't come on until around 10:45pm.

I hope you had a great weekend, I suspect many of you may have been out visiting gardens. I hope so too. I’ll have to click my heals and do some virtual garden visiting myself now. See you soon :-)

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in July 2016.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Share your Painted Lady story, join a documentary

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED: Video footage, photos and stories of the Painted Lady butterfly arriving in the UK are urgently being sought for a one-off documentary for BBC Four all about the migration of the Painted Lady butterfly, currently being produced by an ITN Productions company based in London. It will be presented by Martha Kearney of BBC Radio 4's lunchtime news programme, The World at One.

Working with Butterfly Conservation UK, the production team are really keen to get as many people as possible out with cameras looking for this butterfly - right now! They are trying to live track it through the UK and their deadline for us is July 11th. They would love to include our sightings in their documentary :-)

If you haven’t got a video camera, photos will do, if you haven’t got a camera – your phone images will do nicely, thank-you very much ;-) They are simply welcoming all footage and stories of the Painted Lady butterfly as shared by enthusiasts. Please don’t be put off sending clips if you think the quality isn’t good enough – it’s the real life, unprofessional captures of the moment they are looking for :-)

Painted Lady video footage captured in garden, August 2015.
Your footage doesn’t need to be edited like this, nor does it need to be in HD.
The production team would love footage straight from your camera as is :-)

If you are camera shy like me, then ask a family member to tell your stories of where you were when you saw your Painted Lady sighting. You can also share that you went out looking and didn’t find any sightings where you might have expected to. This is about your experience, looking for and seeing the Painted Lady butterfly.

After a surprise email earlier this week, I had a lovely chat with on the phone with ITN Assistant Producer, Olivia and was instantly able to tell the high level of enthusiasm there is behind the making of this programme and getting us all involved. Hence this blog – I’d love to help them get their footage and stories.

It’s the story behind your Painted Lady butterfly photo the team want to hear.
The story of the image above is of the buddleja bought to attract butterflies
to my front garden after 1st Comma butterfly visitor, days after my Dad died.

Regular blog visitors will know how I love to tell stories of nature from my garden here. For this blog I’m not going to chat anymore, other than to say we had a surprise Painted Lady butterfly sighting back on June 5th. So far this year, we haven’t seen many butterflies up this way at all. I doubt I’ll have any sightings here by the end of the day on Monday, but you never know.

Ha-ha, Olivia knows I’m reluctant to chat in front of the camera, but you never know ;-) If the garden gets a 'Kaleidoscope' of Painted Lady butterflies I would feel seriously obliged to! Here’s some info to help you decide…



ITN Productions and Butterfly Conservation UK invite all you avid butterfly spotters out there to help tell the story one of nature’s most unlikely and epic migrations - The Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) migration.

Every year this beautiful butterfly completes an astonishing 4,500 mile journey from Morocco to the UK. It is reaching our shores NOW and we would love you to share your spotting experiences of this delicate creature with us. So have your mobile phone at the ready, grab what video footage you can of them and turn the camera on yourself to share your story. No need to make it look professional, your phone and you is all you need!

Please get in touch with us to let us know you're taking part and we can provide you with specific details of what we need from you, what we're looking for and where to send your photos and footage. Email:

Facebook, Painted Lady, ITN Productions

So, if I wasn’t camera shy, I could put this photo up full screen on my PC monitor, sit in front of it with my video camera on a tripod and chat about how I
checked my plants for Painted Lady butterflies over the weekend :-)

”Filming – we’d like this to be as rough and unprofessional as possible so don’t worry if you haven’t got high quality equipment or a tripod, just grab your phone and camera and start filming! Please try to film landscape on your phone. No need to act like a presenter, just explain to us what you’re doing, where you are, why you’re there, whether you’ve spotted a Painted Lady or if you’re seen one in that area before. Tell us your personal Painted Lady story! If you don’t manage to see anything but have recent photos or other footage of the Painted Lady then film yourself telling us about that, with the pictures in the shot in some way, instead – covering the same topics as before.”
The Painted Lady Team

”Sending us your material – Once you’ve gathered any recent photos/footage and done your filming then click here to upload your files to us: Even if you’ve sent us any photos previously, please upload them again. PLEASE NAME YOUR FILES WITH YOUR FULL NAME SO WE CAN IDENTIFY YOUR CLIPS AND THEN EMAIL US AN EXACT DESCRIPTION OF WHAT YOU HAVE SENT US, TO:“
The Painted Lady Team

”Release forms – we require you to sign some release forms (attached) to say you are happy to contribute to the programme and for us to potentially use any photos and footage you send us. Please have a read and fill out/sign these forms and scan them back to us as soon as possible this week. “
The Painted Lady Team

This Painted Lady butterfly enjoyed the sunshine undisturbed by me taking photos. In cases like this you could get someone to take a photo or video
with the butterfly behind you and you could describe what you see :-)

I’d love to reach as many people as possible that might consider joining in with this documentary. I have enjoyed watching many other bloggers’ videos so I’m hoping some will be interested. Please pass around the word ;-)

I can’t show the release forms mentioned above but please email with any questions you have and how to get them. You will find Olivia at that address too, she suggested you mentioned I sent you and she could talk you through any queries you might have :-)

Wishing you all a great weekend. Enjoy watching butterflies wherever you are in the world. Please share your weekend stories here too. Fingers crossed that many of you here in the UK see the Painted Lady butterfly and are able to share your stories with this documentary. It definitely sounds fun to join in with :-)

Skype with Martha Kearney, previously mentioned, is no longer happening.
This post was published by Shirley for
shirls gardenwatch in July 2016.