Sunday, 10 June 2018

#30DaysWild Day 9 - Moth Night, this week

Moths weren’t captured by camera on my first garden wander at 9pm last night. Wild flowers and a snail were. It was a cooler night after some rain breaking through at some point earlier in the evening. I didn’t see how much but looking around the garden I could tell it was a sprinkling. My attempt at filling watering cans from my water butt to top-up my suffering wildlife pond confirmed that.

Moths were on my mind with a second wander just after 10:30pm as it was being to turn dark (although it never gets properly dark at this time of year). I’ve noticed white flowers attract moths, but have seen them resting on ivy leaves too. I went to a border I expected to see them and a couple moved, one briefly in range of a photo. Getting photo captures though, I struggle with that.

There’s something about moths that don’t make me feel completely relaxed. I’d guess their visits indoors buzzing about lights is behind that and I’m not the only one. However, through blogs and twitter I’ve seen fascinating images of quite beautiful moths and I’d love to capture images and identify which ones visit my garden. I just have to not jump holding the camera when they move towards me!


JUN 9: Orange flowers of Foxes & cubs opening & yellow Bird’s-foot-trefoil


JUN 9: Snail tucked away, tucking away on Dog’s tooth violet leaves


JUN 9: Yay… first of Ox-eye daisy flowers open! I love daisy flowers :-)


JUN 9: 10:35pm with outside lighting, the glorious Wisteria flowers :-)


Moths did fly below and towards the Wisteria flowers which was great to see. Ha-ha, they were moving away from me! Anyway, I will continue to take odd evening ventures into the garden to see what visits. Please do share your tips on capturing moth photos from your garden, using moth traps (especially homemade ones) and your moth stories in comments :-)

If you are in the UK and moths are your thing you might be interested in this week’s event, Moth Night 2018 which will be held between 14th - 16th June. They have a theme which is Pyralid Moths and you can take part in day and night events. Some info from their website below. @MothNight on twitter is also a fun way to follow this event, hear stories and see images too.

"Organised by Atropos, Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Moth Night is the annual celebration of moth recording throughout Britain and Ireland by moth recording enthusiasts with local public events aimed at raising awareness of moths among the general public.

Moth Night is normally confined to the warmest months; each event will last for three consecutive nights (Thursday – Saturday) and will take place on different date periods every year. You can participate on any one or more of these days or nights.

Participants are not required to comply with the theme and are encouraged to do their own thing.

In association with the Biological Records Centre at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, we have designed an easy-to-use Indicia-based online recording system available from the first day of the event until the deadline for data entry."
Moth Night, 14th -16th June 2018



This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in June 2018.

Friday, 8 June 2018

#30DaysWild Day 8 – Trees, living and dead

Short on time today, but the message for 30 Days Wild is big – plant a tree :-) Living or dead they are winners all round for both us and a variety of wildlife from birds to insects. Here’s a little garden moment from this morning to add to the case.




Newly fledged coat tits excitedly explored the garden early this morning. The light wasn’t good, but above are a few record shots, showing some of the places they stayed still enough to capture. They perched on a branch structure feeding station made from posts with branches from a neighbours felled apple tree. They crossed over to the living pine tree and it looked like they were all at a children’s playground! So lovely to hear them from indoors – what a lovely start to the day for me too.

Early lunchtime and there was a straggler coal tit fledgling spotted perched on a previously living garden Rowan tree. This part of the trunk was planted in a garden border, not to grow, as a perch on route to lower feeders with winter in mind. It works too plus a great spot to capture photos of visiting birds.

Wishing you a great weekend, I wonder if you will see fledging birds or be planting a tree? Do share in a comment :-)


This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in June 2018.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

#30DaysWild Day 7- Silent reminiscing

No bird sound tonight with my, later in the evening, garden wander with a camera, little traffic noise either. I love this silent time in the garden almost as much as with full bird sound. It almost feels secretive as you look around, like I shouldn’t be wandering around my own garden. I’m guessing others may understand what I mean :-)

As is my plan for 30 Days Wild this year, I am not planning posts ahead. On queue the photos I’ve captured tonight have tied in with the day. Just how does that happen? I’ve many plants to pick from but each night/morning particular ones draw me in. Here’s my contribution tonight…


Colour of the day was purple, my favourite colour, 3x gift bouquets to be precise.
Checking in on the clematis from yesterday’s post – it’s flowering well :-)


Plant of the day was the Lupin from my Mum’s friend’s garden, bees loved it!
Added this year, above pre Chelsea, I had no idea this was making a come back.


Reminiscing with an old friend, Erysimum linifolium 'Bowles' Mauve' :-)
So nice to see it this evening, so nice to see so many familiar faces today xo


Ha-ha… and just when i thought there was no wildlife in the garden :-)
How I spotted this in lower light I’ve no idea... serious reminiscing here :-)


Wishing you happy reminiscing in your garden, be it silent or noisy! Tonight, the trail camera is pointed towards the hedgehog feeding station entrance (Hedgehog Manor). Will I see diners in the morning? I’d say a mouse for sure, hedgehogs a maybe. I reminisce often about hedgehogs visits in the garden. Here's one of my favs from a hedgehog house my daughter made in High School as an exam project :-)


This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in June 2018.

#30DaysWild Day 6 - Appreciating romance

Morning sunshine and evening light across a garden can create a romance through the plants that we only notice, if we stop and take time to notice. What a wonderful sense of calm and healing a garden can give us. I for one have always felt it. Do you? Media is talking about how important gardens are for our mental health and well being but we gardeners have probably known that for a very long time. It's good that there is wider awareness of this now.

Evening watering of the garden doesn’t sound that romantic but the quick phone image below was taken tonight when I saw the romance through my border with the evening sun lighting the water drops in the background. Could this possibly be a contribution for 30 Days Wild? I’d say so, I was appreciating just one single moment in the garden and it was magical (way better than my phone capture shows).




Romance was also in the background of a more practical garden job tonight. My, now, son-law bought me a birthday gift of a Clematis last year which was part of a combined gift with a ladybird bug house from my daughter. They felt one would support the other and help the wildlife in my garden which they both knew I like to do. So, I just had to plant the clematis near the location of the bug house :-)

My plan for the clematis climb was up the garden twine supports I had given it through my pine tree which has bottom branches already pruned short for visiting birds going to the feeders. It was working too. The clematis however, had other plans and was sticking to the brief of this gift and had made its way over to the bug house. It sneaked over when I wasn’t looking.




Aww… I appreciated the romance in this too so helped them be together, adding support trellis up the posts and carefully relocating the plant over and tying it in. It was one of the loveliest of garden jobs today and I will really look forward to seeing how this romance blossoms :-)



This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in June 2018.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

#30DaysWild Day 5 – 15 mins by the pond

My recommendation for building a garden pond can’t be said enough times. It really is a magnet for both wildlife and humans alike. Returning home at lunchtime to blue skies and sunshine, once again, my pond drew me outdoors to see if there were any large red damselflies around - they have been spotted recently.

Being so tiny, length 33-26 mm (1¼ ins to just under 1½ ins), the ‘large’ red damselfly is pretty hard to spot amongst pond plant leaves, roots and stems – especially the red ones. My tip is just to stand still and wait for movement and then the flying little red ‘sticks’ can be spotted!

I stood less than a minute when I spotted a flash of red clash in the air above the water, then one damselfly landed on a sunny rock at the water’s edge. At first I couldn’t spot where the other went until I spotted movement again and the reason for the clash above the water became clear. The pair of mating large red damselflies moved around the surface of the pond with the female depositing eggs on vegetation just under the surface. I always find this fascinating to watch.

After lunch (not by the pond in this occasion) thoughts went to an experiment for today’s contribution for 30 Days Wild. 15 minutes by the pond was the plan, when there wasn’t a damselfly there already, would one come and how long would it take? I was pretty confident seeing as they had already been spotted. The timer on my phone was set...



Success! 5½ minutes in and a large red damselfly perched itself to the leaf of a short red stem - it blends in so well. Can you spot it in the full picture above?


The damselfly maintained its horizontal position throughout the 15 minute experiment allowing me time to look around. Oh dear, the drop in water level due to lack of rain has the main waterlily crown exposed – we need rain soon! This is a beauty of a plant :-0




Movement of a long legged fly catches my eye as it lands on a pot of mud. It wasn’t until I uploaded my photos to get a closer look that I realise that this pot had a small waterlily variety that likes a shallow depth! Now this doesn’t look good at all – there’s no rain in the forecast for at least a week either :-(

I take a step back from the pond to notice three cheddar, trollius flowers. A breeze is catching the cupped flowers in the partial shade. The flowers are just opening but something dark in one of them catches my eye. Photo captures were tricky but I got some angles showing what was inside. I had been expecting a bee when I walked over!


First thoughts on ID were of a soldier beetle, then a long horned beetle.
Twitter confirmed the soldier beetle - Cantharis nigricans (Buglife Scotland)


Back at the pond edge again I confirm the large red damselfly is still there.
Now, Blackbird calls can be heard, I turn around to see a juvenile appear :-)


Also appearing all around the pond, on flowers, rocks and in the sandy edges were hoverflies – this one was stepping over flowers. I loved its stretch.




The 15 minute alarm went off on my phone and the statue damselfly remained, still, well passed it. Well, that was a fun and successful experiment. I moved away on a garden wander with my camera returning to catch it moving to a very sparkly spot before flying off. It was very tricky trying to get any focus on this stem! Enjoy sightings and capturing images from your garden this month of June. Maybe you might enjoy a similar 15 minute experiment :-)



This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in June 2018.

Monday, 4 June 2018

#30DaysWild Days 3 & 4 – Evening sounds and ants

Weather-wise, Day 3 for 30 Days Wild was much cooler, thank-goodness! We had clouds but we didn’t see much rain. On my mid evening garden wander, I could hear swifts calling but couldn’t see them through the clouds. I decided that would be my contribution – last bird sounds from the evening garden. I, for one love hearing them quieten down as the light goes. I bet I’m not the only one?

The Knapweed/ Perennial Cornflower Centaurea montana 'Carnea' had been catching my eye, fully in flower in my front garden. It was gently blowing in the wind so the plan was it would be pretty background image for the swift calls heard above it. However, as I have found many times throughout gardenwatching, I got a 'bit' of a surprise when I uploaded my images.

The Crawling ants really did catch me by surprise. I had been looking to the skies and not paying attention to the flower in the camera screen. So, as with all surprises like this I went web browsing. One link led to another and (don’t know where now) I read that foraging bees can be chased away from flowers by ants wanting to keep the nectar for themselves! Here's last night's wildlife surprise...


Day 3's video length 35 seconds, turn volume up to hear swifts.
Warning, for the squeamish, many crawling ants.


For the squeamish, still capture of crawling ants, discoverd on Day 3.


Weather-wise, Day 4 for 30 Days Wild was still much cooler, thank-goodness! Although a cloudy morning, I thought I’d take a look out to see if any bees would be feeding on the knapweed flowers. I had something to look out for now! Yay, there was one small bumble bee ...


Morning of Day 4, bee feeding, tucked away deep in the flower clump.


Day 4's bee goes deeper, foraging around flower stem bases.


Day 4’s duller morning capture of this stunning wild flower.
It's name again - Centaurea montana 'Carnea'


Day 4’s surprise was that I was too busy following the bee around (not so smoothly, sorry) with my camera that I didn’t notice the small number of ants below the bee until I uploaded my video clip below. I’ll leave you to decide for yourself, but, I’ve possibly captured the ants biting the leg/s of a bee to chase it away! It went quickly too and it was fascinating to watch the ants look like they were patrolling their flower.


Day 4's video length 20 seconds, noisy background, music added.


If you are in the UK and insects are your thing, you might be interested in National Insect Week later in the month of June. Will I be on the look out for more ant video footage? Perhaps not ;-)


What is National Insect Week?

National Insect Week encourages people of all ages to learn more about insects.

Every two years, the Royal Entomological Society organises the week, supported by a large number of partner organisations with interests in the science, natural history and conservation of insects.
National Insect Week



This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in June 2018.



Saturday, 2 June 2018

#30DaysWild Day 2 – Creating memories outdoors

Take a relaxed woodland or beach walk, for example, just a wander. So often we are oblivious to what our eyes have seen, our ears have heard or what smell our noses have picked up. We are creating memories all the time, many still strong from our childhood and I believe they become part of the garden spaces we create many years later.

Perhaps that sounds a bit of a romantic notion, but I’d say we put way more of ourselves into our gardens than we realise and once we become aware of what we are doing we open the gates to creating an outdoor space that connects us to nature and truly refreshes our soul. Gardening ‘isn’t just for summer’ :-)

My contribution for 30 Days Wild today is to celebrate being in the outdoors as much as possible, especially if you have young children/grandchildren. Create many memories. Here’s three from my garden tonight…



Pebbles and rocks along waterside edges, as shown above in my, seriously in need of rain, wildlife pond tonight. Something drew me to the water’s edge of a local river when I was growing up. I found myself rearranging the rocks and the angles of larger stones to help the water flow through routes. Creating small pools I became transfixed by the reflections and the patterns they created both above and below the water. At the time, I had no idea that I was connecting to the natural world. My memories were of the most peaceful of places.

Having finally taken the plunge and committing to the build of a wildlife pond in my garden a few years ago, it is the most special place in my garden and I absolutely recommend adding one if you have space. I also recommend the 'gardening' fun of planting up a water garden :-)




Common Bird's-foot-trefoil arrived in my garden a few years ago, deliberately. Again, coming from my childhood memories where it was seen growing along the grassy edge of a pebbled river with colt’s foot, violets and many other wild flowers. I grew this plant from seed many years ago and it always makes me smile, growing by the edge of my pond. It was the one of the first wild flowers I brought into my garden :-)




The herb, Chives arrived in my garden a good few years ago and is one of the very few plants that I have never moved! It gets a gold star for that alone. Strictly speaking, I’ve no childhood memories of this – just the loose connection to the intense smell of wild garlic on woodland walks. However, growing herbs in mixed garden borders is one I’d like my daughters to take forward to their gardens of the future. They are fantastic for pollinators too and we seriously need to help our bees.


This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in June 2018.

Friday, 1 June 2018

#30DaysWild Day 1 – The value of climbing plants

Perhaps an unforgotten group of plans in terms of wildlife, pre blogging I never considered their value other than to add height, colour and interest to my garden. Vertical gardening is great for a small garden too, so the garden presenters and designers say and I’d agree.

This morning’s wander with a camera stopped me at the golden hop and then today’s topic for 30 Days Wild was decided. My contribution today is to celebrate climbing plants. Here’s three from my garden today…



Golden hop Humulus lupulus Aureus, a plant I added many years ago for its fantastic yellow-green colour. Little did I know then, that it’s a great Comma butterfly larvae foodplant. Now that’s a bonus to it and me as it has been moving further north to my parts in recent years. I’m delighted to report I’ve spotted garden visits back in September 2012 :-)




Hedera colchica Sulphur Heart (Persian Ivy) was a plant save from a search and rescue sales area at a garden centre many years ago. It was in a sorry state at the time but its rescue was a serious success for wildlife from nesting, flower nectar for pollinators, winter berries for thrushes and wood pigeons to homes for spiders and countless other insects. I guess I was creating a garden for wildlife before I knew it.




Chinese wisteria Wisteria sinensis f. alba was a plant that took many years to deliver its first flowers and still to this day the excitement of them opening is still there. Little did I know when I made this plant choice, purely for aesthetic reasons and the promise of scent that bees enjoy wisteria flowers as much as me. Again, I had planted for wildlife without knowing it at the time:-)



This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in June 2018.