A Butterfly Diary (July)

JulyTortoiseshell

Flutter by, butterfly,

Floating flower in the sky.

Kiss me with your petal wings—

Whisper secrets, tell of spring.

~

(Author Unknown)

~~~

There have been butterflies in numbers, but not much variety this month. I am still waiting for the elusive Swallowtail to visit me… a friend in our small village has already seen one, but it hasn’t flown in my direction yet! I am also still waiting to see a Comma and more Hawk Moths, with only two different ones making an appearance so far… so I will include them in my August diary.

~~~

The Cabbage Whites, Skippers, Common Blues and Brimstones are still very profuse, but the main visitor this month has been the Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina, Großes Ochsenauge) with the characteristic orange and the eyespot on the upper wings…

MeadowBrown1

They have been feeding on the lavender, Marjoram and Oregano, and of course my prized Centranthus ruber. The larval foodplants are mainly grasses, oats etc. They are most commonly seen in this position with the wings closed, but I also managed to get one resting with open wings, and it suddenly seemed much larger – about a 4 or 5cm wingspan…

MeadowBrown2

This was a male – less colourful then the female.

~~~

Next, the Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus, Faulbaum-Bläuling) – such a delightful sight! A small speck of blue light flashing past, and then when it stops a moment the closed wings are equally pretty, reminding me of the fans used by Japanese ladies in hot weather

HollyBlue1

The air is like a butterfly
With frail blue wings.
The happy earth looks at the sky
And sings.

(The words of Joyce Kilmer)

HollyBlue2

They are common here and are typically found in and around deciduous forests. The caterpillars feed on all sorts of hedgerow plants and shrubs such as Prunus, Dogwood, Buckthorn, Vetches, etc.

~~~

The Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta, Admiral) is still around. You can see a photo of its outstretched wings in my June post and this photo shows it with closed wings, which I think have such an interesting texture, as well as the beautiful markings of course.

RedAdmiral2

~~~

The Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia, Kaisermantel) has been a regular visitor and I just have to share another photo, although this already made an appearance in my  Butterfly Diary in June

Kaisermantel

Thou spark of life that wavest wings of gold,
Thou songless wanderer mid the songful birds,
With Nature’s secrets in thy tints unrolled
Through gorgeous cipher, past the reach of words,
Yet dear to every child
In glad pursuit beguiled,
Living his unspoiled days mid flowers and flocks and herds!

(from Ode to a Butterfly, by Thomas Wentworth Higginson)

~~~

The Mint Moth ((Pyrausta purpuralis, Purpurrote Zünsler) featured in my April post has also been around again, very happy on the Marjoram, which has been flowering all month and has attracted so many bees and other insects…

MintMoth

~~~

Another flying wonder (although not a butterfly but I’m using poetic licence here to include it!) was this dragonfly: the Broad-bodied Chaser dragonfly (Libellula depressa, Plattbauch). I showed you the male back in May, and in July the female spent several days in the rockery…

PlattbauchFemale

Her colouring is completely different, with no sign of the blue of the male. She really shimmered like gold in the sunlight. Don’t we have some amazingly beautiful creatures passing through our gardens!

I have also seen many of those already featured in my past Butterfly Diary posts – Peacocks, Tortoiseshells, the Marbled White and lots of Skippers.

In the UK there was apparently a Butterfly Count last week…. if anyone hears about the result, please let me know as I might miss it! Thanks! :)

Please share with us the butterflies you have seen this month!

Links:

Beautiful North American Meadow Butterflies Video

Rare Blue Butterflies UK

Tuesday View (29th July)

I waited all day for the sun to come out properly, as it was hiding behind a humid haze, but then we had a thundery downpour… look at that rain!

TuesdayView29th3

The ferns on the far left, which I cut back almost a month ago, have grown so rapidly and filled out again – the weather suits them very well.

Then, a few minutes later, the sun came through and everything was glittering, the Perovskia looking lovelier than ever…

TuesdayView29th4

I found this butterfly waiting until the rain stopped completely – a Common Blue I think. (I’ll be posting my butterfly diary for July in a couple of days.)

ButterflyIn Rain

Have you had thunderstorms too?

In a Vase on Monday: Parsnips and Carrots

I just could not decide what to pick this week for the In a Vase on Monday meme, hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden. While driving home from town at the weekend I noticed that the Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) is in full flower, and so this morning I took a short walk beyond our garden gate to see if I could find some as a starting point. Then I also found some lovely yellow flowering Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) and a few pieces of white Sickleweed (Falcaria vulgaris), both of which have a similar shape flowerhead to the Daucus.

Vase28th4

I started off with this vase, but then changed it and tried a photo indoors, which I much prefer:

Vase28th1

I absolutely adore Queen Anne’s Lace, and insist on using the name only for Daucus carota, and not for Cow Parsley, as has become common.

Here you can see the flowerhead fully open, with the dark spot at the centre said to be the drop of Queen Anne’s blood as she pricked her finger making the lace. (This isn’t a feature of cow parsley….) The single red floret is actually there to attract insects, which it does very efficiently. I had to shake these flowers several times to get rid of beetles, flies and other bugs.

Vase28th8

I really love the buds, tinged with pale pink…

Vase28th3

But I also like the way the flower curls up when it has gone over, and then turns in on itself to form tight bunches of seeds… I think it looks like a lttle nest!

Vase28th9

Queen Anne’s Lace is in the carrot family, hence the title – the parsnip speaks for itself. The flowers of Pastinaca sativa look like fennel, but the leaves are quite different, and the scent of the flower heads when crushed is sweet and aromatic – not unlike aniseed/fennel, but far less pungent. I won’t dig them up in autumn to eat, although I would love to as parsnips are hard to find in southern Germany!

Vase28th5

The third plant is basically a weed (aren’t they all?): Sickleweed – what a name! But I am very pleased it grows here as it was almost completely eradicated in Germany when herbicides were first used in large quantities on farming land. Now Sickleweed (Falcaria vulgaris) is creeping back, especially in areas where the ground is very limey….

Vase28th91

The overall effect is a reflection of what we see on the edges of our roadsides and fields right now.

Vase28th7

Can you see any wild flowers at the roadsides near you at the moment?

Thanks again to Cathy – do take a look at her post for this Monday where you will find links to all the other vases people from all over the world are putting together from what’s in/near their garden today.

Maybe you’d like to join in?!

Just Beeing

A hot July afternoon

JustBeeing1

And the garden is buzzing

JustBeeing2

Lazily

JustBeeing5

Hazily

JustBeeing6

There’s climbing

JustBeeing3

And ambling

JustBeeing4

And bumbling

JustBeeing7

And swinging

in the hammock

Swinging

That last picture surprised you didn’t it?! ;-)

This is the nearest I will get to posting a “selfie”, which was the recent subject of a great post by my dear blogging friend Nancy at “Life is Color“. Nancy also wrote a post about why she writes, after I invited her to take part in the blog hop. Take a look at her site some time. It’s precious!

:)

Tuesday View (22nd July)

It’s extremely humid today after heavy rain last night and this morning. The garden looked a little bedraggled earlier, but the Perovskia is standing up again!

TuesdayView22nd1

Everything is looking incredibly green for the end of July. The Scabiosa is opening, one solitary crocosmia is flowering for the first time, and the pink rose (back, centre) is excelling itself…

TuesdayView22nd4

And the hover flies think it’s wonderful!

TuesdayView22nd3

My favourite plant this week is the Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Firetail’ that has just started flowering. I love its big leaves, but the red spiky flowers are pretty too. The insects love them, and they flower until the first frost. A robust, colourful addition to the rockery and the snails ignore them too!

TuesdayView22nd2

What’s your favourite plant today?

In a Vase on Monday: Sunshine and Sand

MondayVase21st1

I bought a dear little yellow bucket on impulse last week, and have been wondering what would look good in it. The Cosmos mixes I sowed this spring are gorgeous, and I have several pots of them in front of our living room window. The Shasta Daisies have also flowered well this year. So putting these two flowers together just made me think of long stretches of sandy beaches lined with colourful beach huts.

MondayVase21st3

Golden sand and sunshine!

MondayVase21st6

Makes me want to run along the beach and feel the hot sand between my toes, then jump into the ocean! (It’s been hot here!)

Well, that won’t be happening, as the nearest beach would be a 6-hour drive or so! ;-)

Are you going to a beach this summer?

MondayVase21st4

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting the In a Vase on Monday meme. Why not join in and pick something from in or near your garden to put in a vase? It’s fun and you might just get addicted and find yourself looking forward to Mondays as much as I do!

:D

Lavender Shortbread

LavenderShortbread2

Lavender is one of the loveliest perfumes, and a lavender bag retrieved from a drawer in the middle of winter conjures up images of summer, bees and warm nights. Most of my lavender is slowly going over after flowering early, but I also have some sorts that have only just opened. While it is in flower I like to use it fresh, not dried… in Lavender Ice Cream, Lavender Syrup, and here’s my latest lavender recipe:

Lemon and Lavender Shortbread

LavenderShortbread1

You will need:

  • 55g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh organic lavender flowers for just a hint of lavender – if you want a more pronounced flavour use 2 tsps
  • 115g (1 stick) softened butter
  • zest of 1 small lemon
  • 170g (1 1/3 cups) plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • extra sugar for dusting

Place all ingredients in a food processor and whizz together to form a smooth dough. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 160°C and place a sheet of parchment on a baking tray.

Roll out the dough to about 5 mm and cut into rounds or hearts etc using a cookie cutter of your choice. Place on the baking tray and prick all over with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes, when they should just begin browning. Mine needed a lttle longer today. Check them at 12 minutes as they can burn really quickly.

Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with sugar. After a few minutes’ cooling, transfer carefully to a cooling rack. They will still be soft and crumbly, but crisp up as soon as they are cold.

LavenderShortbread4

Best enjoyed on a summer afternoon with a cup of tea!

(These shortbread biscuits are the same recipe as my Rosemary Shortbread, posted here. Change up the herbs or flavourings as the fancy takes you! ;-) )