THE GARDEN IS A BLESSING

Yes it is great to be able to get out into the garden and see all the young growth, as well as the insects that are about already. So far I’ve seen two butterflies, small tortoiseshells, a bumblebee, a bee and some small fly types. The photo above is of an hoverfly if I am right. It is great to see the return of the insects. It gives us hope during these surreal days.

I actually spent time in the garden to plant out my 14 broad bean plants, and as today we had a lull in the stormy and very wet weather of recent times, it was ideal to do my work. Two broad bean plants the only ones left of what I sowed in the autumn are in flower.

We have been self isolating for a week as a precaution against the corona virus because of our age. For us it is not a problem as we are both retired and we can shop online for food. Of course as this whole situation is developing sometimes it feels to me like a surreal film that I am watching. Stay safe all my friends and followers. Much love to everyone.

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.

MY GARDEN UPDATE ~ JULY

It has been a while since I did serious work in the garden, seeing that I had not sowed nor planted anything this season, I had let the garden be for the bees and the insects, they of course took full advantage of the wilderness, and though there were not as many insects around this summer, I was still able to find some today. I had my little helper with me all day, Ruben, my grandson, came over and we both put on our wellingtons and out we went, we soon started to pull some of the overgrown cleavers away from other plants, also some of the ivy was removed. The two cold frames were totally overgrown some of the plants were pushing up the plastic and some had grown through it! Ruben, being almost 6 and a very enthusiastic worker was lifted into the frame and soon had pulled all the ‘weeds’ out, they then went on to the compost heap. We covered the earth in one of the cold frames with comfrey leaves, that will be good for the soil.

Ian came and cut the grass so we could use this for mulching as well.  We spotted quite a few insects and I am happy to say that Ruben does not mind them at all, he is just very interested in the little creatures and seems to quite love them.  Here is one beauty sitting on the flowers of a parsley plant, there were several others on the same plant.

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Then there were all these weevils, and several different types of beetles, spiders, and caterpillars, lots of woodlouse as well. And the snails and slugs could not be counted, so many.

We have at this moment quite a few of these most beautifully scented white clover growing, I sowed them last year to improve the soil and they are giving a lovely display this summer.  They will be good for the soil.  The flowers of the parsley are quite beautiful too, they seem to attract many different insects.

And so the summer is moving along, there is more work to do, is lots to prepare before we leave for Gozo in autumn, though the garden will not be unattended while we are gone as there will be people in and out of the place all the time, still, I must make sure that when we return the garden will be ready for me to start more planting.

GOZA’S NATURAL HERITAGE

This morning we made our first walk in Gozo. We are staying in Xlendi which is a little place on the South-West of the island. It consists of what looks like a ravine, or a mini-fjord, and is flanked on the one side with apartments built in honey coloured limestone, and with rocks and short shrubbery on the other side.

DSCF4526We are staying in one of the apartments, ground floor at the front door, but a very high fourth floor on the opposite side where the balcony is.

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The apartment does not get much sun as it is NW facing, only when the sun is about to go down do we see any of it, nice to get the setting sun, however, it does make the place here rather chilly for the time of year, and for the first time since we arrive on the Maltese island have I had to wear thermals inside. Outside, though it is glorious, lovely and warm in the sun, and the sky blue without any cloud. Obviously we are going to be outside most of the time, soaking up the sun as much as all the history and architecture of the island, but this morning I concentrated on the natural heritage which is simply amazing and so interesting.

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We walked down a path only a stone’s throw away, and discovered a wealth of wildlife and flora, we also saw the most beautiful blue sea and rocks stretching as far as the eye could see. I got working with taking macro photos of the flowers and insects while Ian strolled on and sat resting on one of the many benches. One of the most pleasing factors was the sea breeze which was both refreshing and warmly scented.

The flower of the Mallow plant, and an ant lost on the large hot rocks. The shrubs and wild plants are low and stay small mainly because there is such a water shortage here, it is April right now and the people have not seen any rain since the New Year. The rocky soil also contributes to the stunted growth of the plants. Everywhere we see lizards, beautiful little creatures, very fast, though they love to just sun bathe, difficult subjects to take photos of.  Their colour varies, but like this one green seems to predominate.

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There is a steep road down to the little harbour, apparently at some time there are many of the Gozitan fishing boats anchored there, but now, now we only saw clear aqua marine water and fish of which I do not know the name.

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This is the path leading down to the sea, there is also another path that leads over the hill towards the tower seen on the left and to some of the salt pans. But that is going to be a walk for another day.

 

 

In the photo on the right, Lichen, these lichen are growing colourfully on some of the rocks, the rocks are mainly limestone, with plainly to see fossils.

Here is one of the fossils, they are so interesting and make for an exciting walk, to think that these creatures are the makings of the sedentary rocks surrounding us.

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One of my favourite photos and views of the morning was this flower, the name of it escapes me totally, please if someone knows can you tell me.  It was delicately scented.

DSCF4590Among other plants and trees I’ve seen are the African Tamarix trees here, they are considered an endangered species, but seem to do well here.

And yet another creature I came across, a type of beetle I guess.

I know that there is a lot more to explore in nature here, this is only the first day and we have a whole month here.  I hope to keep writing about what I discover and illustrate with my photos.  Thanks for reading, I hope that you enjoyed.