CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL

It was the beginning of spring of this past year that I decided to let our garden become an Ark, and to let everything that wanted to grow be there without interference from me. And it worked, the garden became one large ecological wonder, Thistles, Foxgloves, Nettles, Comfrey, Dandelions, and so many more wild plants seemed to be in competition with each other to produce the most foliage and flowers. Needless to say the garden became a haven for insects and the butterflies were found in abundance too. Everyday I was out there filming and taking photos of all these delightful creatures, too many of which I don’t quite know the proper name of. First time seeing the Orange tip butterfly and also the Meadow Brown. At some point the Leek flowers were visited by several Peacocks, Red Admirals, and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies. Besides the ordinary Whites I also had a visit of a Green Veined White, and of course not to forget the Painted Ladies of which there were several this past summer. I had a Meadow Brown which was also a first here in the garden, and of course the yearly Speckled Wood. Such a delight!

At some stage there were numerous Tortoiseshell, Red Admirals and Peacock butterflies on the same plants in a rather smallish area, they seem to love the flowers of the leeks which I had let grow out.
And then there are the Hoverflies and the Bumblebees, and the honey bees, I am afraid that I still have issues with identification, maybe I might have some time during the winter to look over my photos and do some identification, I would love to know more about them all right, and there are good websites to help me.
Several times during the summer I have had to step in to help rescue bees. A little honey later and they fly off again.
This photo shows what was like a little invasion of creatures but my photo is too unclear to identify, it was an amazing happening I thought.

And even though we had such an abundance of creatures in the garden in this past year, I am having to re-think my gardening plan for this coming season 2020, the reason for this is that by now the garden is totally overgrown. I have let it get out of hand and now will find it hard to find space for vegetables, the growth has been so enormous and so I will be planning differently but still with insect life in mind.

Let me know please what you do in this regard, do you just let every wild plant grow where it wants, or do you keep some order in your garden or plot. I would be very interested in learning from your experience my friends. Thank you.

THE GARDEN IS AWAKENING

I guess it is – or rather – the gardener is awakening! Because a good crop of herbs and vegetables was growing all winter long in our little garden. But today I started getting organized because there is lots to do, and I cannot wait to get going!

Vegetables in abundance – overwintering colourful Chard, Rosemary, Kale and Celery.
The Lavender is in good condition after the winter, and the Rosemary bush is getting larger by the day.

Much of my space is still taken up by winter vegetables but some of the beds are ready, one for potatoes, and another one for flowers, this season the emphasis is going to be on food for the insects, that is so important today.

This book I took out of the library, lots of information on what to grow to help butterflies survive, great for ideas.

So yes there is lots going on even as early in spring as right now. We have enough food coming from the garden, and that helped me make the decision to grow a lot more flowers seeing that insect population is under such threat. But personally I am also very happy with this decision because I am very fond of flowers.

Dear friends, followers, and readers of my blog, I would like to thank you for all your encouragement. I’m coming up to 800 followers now and I treasure everyone of you.

GREEN-VEINED WHITE – Pieris napi

Today while gardening a lovely butterfly came to check out some dark pink Oxalis flowers, it was a warm and sunny day here in West Cork, and because the two previous days we experienced soft Irish rain the garden was fresh and beautiful. The colours and the green shades were easy on the eye. And since we have quite a few wild flowers in bloom, we are visited by a good variety of visitors from the insect world. But today it was the butterflies that took away first price.  Yes, since I started reading the book “The Butterfly Isles: A Summer in Search of Our Emperors and Admirals” by Patrick Barkham, my interest in butterflies has intensified. Patrick Barkham first went butterfly spotting as a child with his father in Norfolk. His book documents his search for different butterflies found in the British islands. It is a slow read but quite interesting, I am hooked.
I think that the butterfly in my photos is a Green-veined White (Pieris Napi).

Biodiversity Ireland is holding a Butterfly Bash this week and we are sending records of all the butterflies we see into https://records.biodiversityireland.ie/start-recording

Lovely to have seen this striking butterfly today and I will be on the look out for more. I hope you enjoy them too.

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“WE ARE ALL BUTTERFLIES. EARTH IS OUR CHRYSALIS.” LeeAnn Taylor

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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BEAUTY OF SMALL CREATURES

“This curious world we inhabit is more wonderful than convenient; more beautiful than it is useful; it is more to be admired and enjoyed than used.”
Henry David Thoreau
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“There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.” John Calvin

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“It is interesting that Hindus, when they speak of the creation of the universe do not call it the work of God, they call it the play of God, the Vishnu lila, lila meaning play. And they look upon the whole manifestation of all the universes as a play, as a sport, as a kind of dance — lila perhaps being somewhat related to our word lilt” Alan W.Watts
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“Imagination is a very high sort of seeing, which does not come by study, but by the intellect being where and what it sees, by sharing the path, or circuits of things through forms, and so making them translucid to others.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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“Looking at beauty in the world, is the first step of purifying the mind.”  Amit Ray
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“Beauty is the purest feeling of the soul. Beauty arises when soul is satisfied.” Amit Ray

CONVERSATIONS WITH A PEACOCK BUTTERFLY

Today, while waiting for Ian to finish some stuff he was doing in his boat, I noticed a butterfly caught behind the glass of the cabin, fluttering fiercely was one of our most beautiful butterflies, the Peacock.  It caught my attention. Gosh it was beautiful to get such a close up of this wonderful creature, I watched it for a long while but became worried that it could damage it’s wings even further than it had already done. After some time it settled down, I was able to gently pick it up and decided to free it into the lush fields beyond the boat yard. But how to get down the ladder with a butterfly in your hand? I decided to put it on my jumper and to my amazement it stayed there, even climbing a bit higher to just under my chin. I climbed down carefully, and it then flew off and onto some gravel which is where I made some photos with my phone (good old phone!) It then flew off further afield, I hope happy to be discovering the wider world.
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These butterflies hibernate during the autumn/winter months, usually in woods, sheds or hollow trees.  You often see these Peacock butterflies on the Buddleia shrub, I once counted many, over twenty on our bush.  Their larvae are black and often found on Nettles.  I am guessing that the specimen found on the boat was just out of hibernation, and I wonder if it will last another summer.

I got some of my information about the Peacock from the book ‘Discovering Irish Butterflies and their habitats’ by J.M.Harding.

STILL THE BUTTERFLIES and other end of summer stuff in the garden

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Bird feeder and trellis ready with a coat of ‘green’ wood preserver.

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And with a kind friend cutting the hedges, which were overdue to be cut all summer, there is plenty of trimmings to be shredded and put on the shredding compost heap, great for mulching next year.  We bought a cheap enough shredder in Lidl last year and find it very useful.

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Tucked away behind the compost bin I found these toadstools, Wow….is autumn really almost here!

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Blackberries also found totally at the back of the garden, not many of them, but enough to have a mouthful. 

It is just so delightful to discover all sorts of plants and creatures in the garden, it’s amazing what can be found over the seasons in a small plot.  Always enjoying the diversity of nature.

 

 

ALWAYS SOMETHING INTERESTING IN THE GARDEN

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The Speckled Wood (Pararge Aegeria) Butterfly was once again flying around in the garden and was not on it’s own, I saw another two of the same species, they were interested in the half rotted Blackberries that were lying on the table outside.

Late summer blooms are making a lovely blue show.  You have always seen Hydrangeas in the gardens here in West Cork, but of late they are also being planted along the roads, especially outside towns.  It is so easy to grow these plants from just a little slip, and I’ve grown them before, but only white ones, the blue one I bought.  They don’t do so well in a container, they much prefer the garden.  Their colours can vary from deep reds to deep blues and purples.

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The berries are on the Hawthorn tree, it’s mainly going to be food for the birds, but I firmly believe in the medicinal qualities of the Hawthorn tree.  I collect leaves and young buds in spring time to use as a tea. It is good for the heart, one cup a day.

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This Hawthorn tree came to grow here in the garden some years ago, I discovered it as a young sapling growing near my very old Lilac tree that had grown too old to be kept in this small garden, so I decided to get it cut down and to let the Hawthorn tree grow there instead.  I gave the wood of the Lilac tree to my brother who used it for wood carving, he made me a lovely delicate feather from the wood, which I treasure.

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Today I harvested some Celery seeds, just before the rain started at midday, I picked all I could find with seed heads in the Celery plot.  I had to hand release all the little seeds by flicking the branches one by one, a bit of a meditative job.  Finally I got a plateful of the tiny little seeds, they can be used during the winter months for cooking..  I thought that the left over branches also made a very decorative sight.

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TODAY A SMALL TORTOISHELL BUTTERFLY IN MY GARDEN

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This beautiful sunny morning a small Tortoiseshell Butterfly (Aglais urticae) was drinking the nectar from deep blue flowers in the garden, it was a lovely sight, it patiently sat until I had made about 20 photos of it.

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Intricate details of same Tortoiseshell.

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Apparently it’s main food is Nettles, and it is around between March and October, it is quite common around here but I have never quite seen a specimen with such fluorescent blue on it’s wings. It’s caterpillar is black, yellow and pale green underneath, and a bit hairy. And it is found all over Europe.