ODE TO OUR POLLINATORS

This week has been the week that we remember and show appreciation for our pollinators.

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I read recently in the Irish Times that here in Ireland, bees are a crucial link in the supply chain of our apples, raspberries and other soft fruits. and that a third of the Irish species of bees is threatened with extinction. One can imagine what problems this will cause down the line. Personally we are having a great crop of raspberries and the pollination, as far as I have been able to observe, has been done by bumblebees. There is of course a large number of different pollinators, luckily.  I can’t resist taking photos of any wildlife I find in the garden, so here is a series of pictures taken this spring/summer of our pollinators.

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This bee was just lying there, I guess it was almost dead, but it soon revived with a little honey.

Also many other pollinators visit the gardens.

Thanks to Murtaghsmeadow’s blog for bringing Pollinators Awareness week to my attention.  This is a link to her blog.

https://murtaghsmeadow.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/a-week-in-celebration-of-pollinators

Here is another interesting link:  http://www.biodiversityireland.ie/projects/irish-pollinator-initiative/all-ireland-pollinator-plan/

 

 

BUTTERFLIES, HONEYBEES AND THE NEIGHBOUR’S CAT

A happy Monday morning wishes to all, hope that your week has started well. My week could not have started any better when early on I woke up to glorious sunshine. I happen to glance out of the window to the front garden and the buddleia bush and there I saw the most beautiful butterflies, five different species. They were fluttering among the honeybees of which there were over half a dozen.   I stood watching them for a long time and only then thought about taking some photos and I’m glad that I did because in a way I feel that I have captured their beauty to share with so many others, and that makes me happy!

What a beautiful time of the year it is!
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This is a peacock butterfly, it is found all over Ireland. It hibernates during the winter. It’s got to be the most beautiful of the butterflies in Ireland.
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This was amazing, so many species on the one flower spike, there is the red admiral, these feed on over-ripe fruit and also in particular you see them on the buddleia bush. There is also a painted lady and a small tortoise butterfly.  Not to forget the lovely honeybee, it’s so nice to see many of these around isn’t it, knowing that they are on the decline.

Painted Lady butterfly
Painted Lady butterfly

After I had stood there for a long time watching them, there came a neighbour’s cat and she could think of nothing better to do but to try and catch the butterflies, she managed to get hold of one branch of flowers and destroyed that, but the butterflies were able to escape and of course, much as I love cats, she got chased away very quickly by me.

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MEMORIES OF FLOWERS

What better to think about and plan while the weather remains wet and stormy, and yet we feel that the new gardening year will soon enough be upon us. Flowers, wild and cultivated, beautiful and colourful, reminding us of summer, of sunshine and warmth.

Looking back at many of the flowers we had in the garden last year, I know that some of them I will certainly repeat this time around. The sweetpeas gave us such pleasure, we picked bunch after bunch, the scent was heavenly and made for a very cheerful breakfast table, so that is a definite Yes. The coriander and oregano  are also a definite Yes! These are herbs my kitchen simply cannot do without, and the flowers, though small are pretty, when plentiful they can be used as part of a herbal flower decoration. The nasturtiums are always there also, I sow them yearly, they are pretty for their flowers but I also use both leaf and flower in salads, or I might eat some of the leaves while walking in the garden. As for the hydrangea, I have four different bushes growing, a deep lapis lazuli blue one, a pretty pink one, and two pure white ones. Some years ago I tried to change the colour of one of my white hydrangeas with a product I bought in the garden centre, but I did not succeed, and it did not matter, I will try again some time. The Ph of the soil here in my raised beds is 7, so total balance between alkaline and acid, and the colour depends on the Ph of the soil.
Marigolds grew profusely in the garden last summer, they just kept on flowering, I like the orange types, they are definitely on the list for this season also.  The poppies are self seeding, they are beautiful and great for the bees and other flying creatures, but they do have a habit of coming up among the vegetables and become too large sometimes.  The fuchsia flowers are seen all over West Cork, in a good year some of the hedgerows are coloured red with them, lovely.  They flower from May onwards, and might still be in flower in November.  I have them only at the back of the garden, in the hedge.

The big bright yellow flower was going to be a lovely round pumpkin, only last summer all my pumpkins rotted, so while the promise was there in the flower, it did not come to fruition.   The blackberry flowers are frilly and white, they also just form part of the hedge and I let them grow mainly for the bees and butterflies.  It is great to see all the insects and butterflies come and feed in the garden.

Finally after about three years my wall flowers have started to produce lots of dark rose velvety flowers, nice, and they give off a faint scent, it brings me memories of gardens and flowers in another period of my life, precious memories of flowers.

ODE TO BORAGE FLOWERS

Cleared away the destroyed Borage plant today, but before I took it all away to the compost I had to get a nice bouquet to be enjoyed still by the bees and us too. I had left it on the patio table, and the bumblebees did come and feasted on the pollen of the still fresh enough flowers. It broke my heart almost to have to cut it all down, but then I remembered that the comfrey plant is also fully in flower now and has plenty of pollen for the insects, bees and all. Took some pics of the lovely bumblebees, and some other creatures that came across my path today.

Somewhere else in the garden, another borage plant is already getting big and is flowering.

To date I have not used the borage flowers for producing anything really, and I am not even sure what I would make, but it is supposed to be used in a skin cream. It’s ok because I cannot try everything at the same time, there is so very much that one can use and make with plants, and there is so much information about it all these days, interesting books, like for example, Sof McVeigh’s ‘Treat Yourself Natural’ which gives many ideas and recipes for making and using things out of the garden. A book beautifully produced and well recommended.
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These creatures, a wood lice, and a little red mite were hidden under a stone that I disturbed today.

I TOOK A WALK AROUND THE BORAGE PLANTS

Today I spent some time around the Borage plants, I wanted to count the amount of Bees, or Bumblebees, if any, that would be visiting. As it was a sunny day there were quite a few Bumbles feasting on the delicately coloured Borage flowers. This year I let the Borage plants, about half a dozen of them, grow in one of the raised beds, I did it especially to attract the Bees, and it seems to be working, the plants became huge and all of them are flowering profusely. I just enjoyed staying with it for a long while and clicked with the camera, and was able to capture some of them. Meanwhile I had forgotten that I put a pot of soup on for warming up and if Ian would not have discovered it the pot would have burnt to a cinder! Oeps! Thank you Ian.

Borage is such an easy plant to grow, it basically starts growing all over the garden, where I leave it as much as is possible, I think that it is very important to grow as many wild flowering plants as possible to help the declining Bee populations.  It is also very attractive to have wild flowers among the vegetables.

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Above:  A beautiful Bumblebee

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Above:  More Bumbles, of two different types.

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Above:  and more of them I am happy to say.

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These are my Borage plants in full flower, they are next to the Strawberry plants (also in full flower)

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Above:  Detail of a Borage flower, and view from above.