A Butterfly Diary (August)

Swallowtail 2012

Swallowtail 2012

“I dance above the tawny grass

In the sunny air,

So tantalized to have to pass

Love everywhere

O Earth, O Sky, you are mine to roam

In liberty.

I am the soul and I have no home,

Take care of me.”

From The Butterfly, by Alice Archer (Sewall) James

~~~

Since March this year I have been carefully recording the butterflies, along with a few other beautiful winged creatures, that have visited my garden or the meadow just beyond my garden gate. This month I have again seen many regular visitors; Tortoiseshells, Meadow Browns, Common Brimstones, the occasional Blue, and of course the Small and Large Whites, which despite their profusion have been practically impossible to photograph due to their incessant fluttering!

~~~

Last month I posted a photo of the Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta, Admiral) with its wings closed. At the beginning of this month a couple were regular visitors to the garden again and rested with open wings for longer periods…

RedAdmiral2

~~~

An unnamed Verbena (maybe someone out there knows which one it is!) attracted this Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene, Braunfleckige Perlmutterfalter)…

SmallPearlBorderedFritillary2

There are so many similar fritillaries, so if anyone spots I have made an error please let me know, but the Small Pearl Bordered is one of the most common ones in our region – actually fairly large with a wingspan of about 3-4cm. Like other fritillaries, the main foodplant is violets. The second generation caterpillars drop to the ground beneath their foodplant for protection in winter and remain hidden until spring, only then forming a chrysalis.

SmallPearlBorderedFritillary1

~~~

Another Fritillary, perhaps a High Brown Fritillary? (Fabriciana/Argynnis adippe, Feurige Perlmutterfalter)

Fritillary

~~~

The oregano and marjoram plants have been particularly favoured by the Meadow Browns featured last month, as well as this butterfly; the Map (Araschnia levana, Landkärtchen). The wings when closed explain the name it has been given, with a network of lines…

Map1

And the upper side of the wings (see below) does also remind me of the colours found on old maps. This one is a second generation one – the early spring ones, which I haven’t seen here, are more colourful with a lot more orange on the upper wing. Apparently the Map is only seen in central and eastern Europe, and not in the UK. Have you ever seen one?

Map2

The Map lays its eggs on nettles and prefers the edges of woodland as its habitat. There humidity is higher and there is some shade for the larvae/caterpillars, while the adults can then fly beyond the woods into sunny areas with nectar-rich flowers.

~~~

The Hummingbird Hawk-moths (Macroglossum stellatarum, Taubenschwänzchen) have been visiting the Centranthus since it opened in May and although there have been phases with fewer numbers, I’d say I have never seen so many as in this summer. The early spring warmth must have suited them.

HummingbirdHawkMoth1

The early ones were small (only 3cm wingspan) and flew very fast, but as the year progressed they became larger and very slightly slower – acoording to Wikipedia 70 to 90 wingbeats per second! Other interesting facts: the proboscis is about 2cm long and they can fly backwards! As our climate has slowly got milder they now overwinter in most of central Europe, but many still migrate quite far north. Do let me know if you’ve seen one or even several this year. The ones visiting us may be both those that have overwintered and migratory ones. The second generation appears mid-August.

HummingbirdHawkMoth2

 They fascinate me with their tiny fat soft bodies and distinct faces and I love having them brush past me while working in the rockery.

~~~

Apart from a very brief glimpse of a Bedstraw Hawk-Moth (Hyles gallii, Labkrautschwärmer) the only other hawk moth I have seen this year is the Broad-bordered Bee Hawk-moth, (Hemaris fuciformis, Hummelschwärmer)…

BroadBorderedBeeHawkMoth3

Beautiful creatures!

This one has a slightly larger body than the Hummingbird Hawk-moths, but the wingspan is about the same – around 4 to 5 cm. From the information on the German Wikipedia page (the English one is minimal!) I assume we have two generations here, and they overwinter here too. The foodplants include all Lonicera, as well as Galium, Deutzia, Knautia and – to my surprise – Cephalaria, which I recently put on my autumn planting list after seeing it in Janet’s garden (Plantaliscious). :) They are found in open woodland and chalk hills with conifers and shrubby honeysuckles – precisely what our region offers.

BroadBorderedBeeHawkMoth1

Other hawk-moths I have seen in previous years were the Small Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila porcellus, Kleiner Weinschwärmer) and the Bedstraw Hawk-moth (Hyles gallii, Labkrautschwärmer), which I posted about in 2012 here.

~~~

Mid-month my neighbour brought me a caterpillar to identify: a Pine Hawk-moth (Sphinx pinastri, Kiefernschwärmer). It was about 7cm long and very lively!

Kiefernschwaermer2

After looking it up I thought the actual moth looked familiar. In early June I took a photo of a large grey moth with black markings, then promptly forgot about it…. here it is: the Pine Hawk Moth…

Kiefernschwaermer3June

Not as impressive as the caterpillar, but still rather pretty markings. This one was about 10cm long, but I didn’t see its wings open. The adults lay the eggs on pine needles or other conifers, and are seen between May and June, and then again in August. I imagine our caterpillar will overwinter in its chrysalis then.

~~~

While looking through old photos from June to find the Pine Hawk-moth, I also discovered this picture which I had totally forgotten about as well: a Five-spot Burnet (Zygaena trifolii, Sumpfhornklee-Widderchen). I shall include it here and add it to my June post too.

SixSpotBurnet

The wings are almost black, tinged blue, with those distinctive red spots. I have since learned that the foodplant is Bird’s-foot Trefoil – another excuse not to do the weeding!

;-)

~~~

 I glimpsed the elusive Swallowtail butterfly floating elegantly across the lawn, but the photo at the top of this post was taken 2 years ago. There’s still time yet, and a Swallowtail caterpillar on the fennel provides hope!

SwallowtailCaterpillar2

~~~

There is still another butterfly month left – maybe even two – so I shall be keeping my eyes peeled and will report once again at the end of September.

:)

What visited your garden in August? Any unusual guests?

Tuesday View (26th August)

The last view for August this year… hasn’t summer flown by?!

(Look at the colour of the Acer palmatum on the right of the pink rose!)

AugustAutumn5

I am no longer denying it… autumn is most definitely here.

Three weeks earlier than normal.

But nonetheless beautiful.

The large maple at the bottom of the garden is turning red and dropping leaves already. And the changing light, strong breeze and cool temperatures indicate its glory will be all too short as usual! Even the birch is slowly showing a tinge of pale gold.

AugustAutumn6

The grasses are also yellowing while the seedheads flourish.

AugustAutumn1

And the sedums are turning pink too.

AugustAutumn3

As the rain falls again tonight I am happy that my garden is finally getting a good drink.

:)

How is August coming to a close in your part of the world?

In a Vase on Monday: a Birthday Treat/Cheat

Since my parents are here for a visit and my Dad is celebrating his birthday, today’s vase for Cathy’s meme “In a Vase on Monday”  is for the birthday boy. It’s also cheating a little as

a) these were actually picked from the flower field near our home and not the garden

and b) the vase was put together and photographed about six weeks ago!

Sunflowers

There will, of course, be cake as well as flowers.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!

And have a lovely Monday everyone!

Tuesday View (19th August)

It’s been showery and cool, not at all like August. As the occasional red acer leaf drops to the ground, and the swallows gather before flying south, I get the distinct impression that summer is coming to an end.

I experimented with the wide-angled lens for today’s photo, hence the blurry bits!

TuesdayView19th

Not much change since last week.

Our hazel trees have been loaded with nuts this summer. But every morning while having my breakfast there’s a lot of rustling and crunching going on over there. One day I caught one of the culprits in the act…

HazelTree1

Now that takes a lot of skill if you ask me, so I think he deserves as many as he can eat. He invited a couple of friends one morning though – two smaller ones with their coats already turning darker as they do in winter. Fortunately we don’t have the non-native grey squirrels in Germany yet, so these red ones are safe for now. (The grey ones carry a virus that can kill our native red ones).

Here he is, a bit closer…. sweet, don’t you think?

HazelTree3

I wonder how many nuts will be left for us!

Have you seen signs that summer is coming to a close?

In a Vase on Monday: Aromatherapy

It started with a basil flower…

Vase18thAroma3

And various mints are flowering so beautifully at the moment too, providing me with the inspiration I needed for this week’s vase…

Vase18thAroma4

“In a Vase on Monday” is hosted by Cathy at “Rambling in the Garden“, challenging us to find some materials in our gardens every week for a vase to bring indoors. Today I was planning on cutting the only dahlia flower that has been worth a mention this summer… but I chickened out! So I turned to some old friends for help instead – the herbs.

Vase18thAroma2

You can never go wrong with herbs.

Not only do they taste good, they also enrich the garden with attractive foliage and flowers, as well as attracting bees, butterflies and other good creatures.

The lemon verbena has done very well in several pots this summer and should flower soon. The pineapple sage is now flowering more scarcely, but has grown tremendously. Some thyme and oregano are still in flower, so I cut a few sprigs of those, and some of the last lavender also went in. The salad burnet is flowering again, and I also added some of the trailing rosemary.

I actually remembered to add a prop this week…. the gardening catalogues have been arriving for a couple of weeks now, and my lists are not getting any shorter! The largest catalogue is from one of the new online nurseries I discovered this spring; an excellent herb seed and plant supplier. The basil flower above is their Ocimum basilicum “Christmas”, which I grew from seed. It has a lovely warm aroma, tasting slightly of citrus and spices. :D

Vase18thAroma1

The vase smells delicious.

Now, what shall I cook for dinner tonight…

;-)

Peach Crumble Cake

I was actually planning on making a peach crumble the other day, but then afternoon cake for a visitor was required and this arose from the crumble plans!

I’ve been blogging for almost three years now and as I mentioned on Tuesday I have just topped 700 posts! So please help yourselves to a slice and celebrate with me, and thanks for being out there everyone! :)

Peach Crumble Cake

PeachCrumbleCake3

  • 225g SR flour
  • 50g ground hazelnuts
  • 50g oats
  • 1tbsp cornflour
  • 100g sugar
  • 25g brown sugar
  • 175g butter

Grease and flour a 9-inch/23cm square cake tin. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.

Mix all the dry ingredients together and then rub in the butter with fingertips until nice and crumbly. Mix in about 1-2 tbsps water and put a third of the mixture in a separate bowl: this is the crumble topping. Press the rest firmly into your prepared tin. Chill both the base and the topping while you prepare the fruit filling.

For the filling:

  • approx. 700g  prepared peaches (this was 6 large ones for me), diced but not peeled
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 75g brown sugar

Mix the filling ingredients together and spread over the base. Sprinkle the lumpy crumble topping over the top and bake for 45 minutes or until lovely and brown on top and bubbling.

Leave to cool in the pan a little before slicing, and then allow to cool completely before removing from the pan.

PeachCrumbleCake2

Deliciously sweet and sticky too, I’d recommend this cake with a blob of cream or ice cream. I bet it’s good served warm too!

:)

What do YOU do with peaches?

Tuesday View (12th August)

This is my 700th post!!

I’ll be celebrating later this week with another delicious cake recipe, but in the meanwhile here’s the Tuesday view for today:

TuesdayView12th

Can you detect the yellow tinge to everything? We even saw a few orange leaves on our acer yesterday…

But on the positive side, the big heat is over. Phew. And summer is certainly here for a while yet. After all, look at this Perovskia – it’s shouting out summer!

RussianSage

I really love it, although it is starting to spread in the wrong direction. Does anyone know if you can take cuttings, like with lavender? This side of the rockery is pretty well established now, but the other side (beyond the pink rose at the top of the first picture) is very dry with poor shallow soil and lots of stones, so I should like some Perovskia to settle in on that side too.

~~~

A final picture for today: I never thought I’d learn to love this Achillea, but next to the rose, mint and Linaria this is a favourite at the moment (after the Perovskia of course!)

Achillea

Which plant is giving you the most pleasure in your garden right now?