… Or should that be ‘September RuBEE’? 😉
I have never seen so many butterflies at once, and so many different ones on a single day as this year. Here is a selection of some I managed to snap with my phone last week.
Map (Summer brood)
Painted Lady (rather weather-beaten, poor thing!)
Queen of Spain Fritillary
And the same with a Cabbage White
Lesser Marbled Fritillary
And there were a couple more I couldn’t get a snapshot of, including the elusive Old World Swallowtail. 😃
What is flying in your garden today?
I just saw Eliza’s post about World Bee Day, so felt compelled to post something before this day goes by unnoticed. Like Eliza, I ask all gardeners please not to use chemicals to get rid of weeds or pests. There is almost always a kinder alternative that will not harm pollinators.
This is my Peony ‘Claire de lune’ which opened yesterday, with a bee in her ruffles. 😃
If you visit here regularly you will know I had two new flower beds dug at the beginning of the month. Well, I was extremely lucky and our beautiful October weather continued long enough for me to get the plants in that I had ordered, as well as several hundred bulbs.
Here is a photo of the herb bed in the sunshine…
… and on a frosty morning (We even had snow flurries today!)…
This contains my kitchen herbs as well as some for pure decoration such as a red-leaved Hypericum. I added some grasses – a couple of Pennisetum, an Erogrostis trichodes and several small Stipa tenuissima (will the Stipa survive our winter I wonder?) – and a Viburnum (‘Eskimo’) as a focal point in the middle. The rosemary has been planted out, rather optimistically, from a pot. Depending on how cold the winter is it should survive with a bit of coddling (i.e. mulch and fleece). (Any tips on overwintering rosemary?)
The other bed is the ‘Butterfly Bed’…
… and has already been visited by a few late butterflies, including this one (no idea what it is), posing on this newly planted Aster pringlei ‘Pink Star’…
I have also planted a lot of different grasses here as wind protection as well as for their love of dry and open positions. But among the grasses are geraniums, lavender, verbena, Japanese anemones, Perovskia and three buddleias. I am not sure if I should cut the buddleias back as they are only about 1m tall anyway. Any buddleia experts out there?!
I also bought this lovely Hellebore “Ice ‘n’ Roses, rose” from a garden centre. It is a new hybrid from the north of Germany and is supposed to flower from December to April! Well, this one is already in flower, brought on early for the nurseries, and it is so very pretty.
It will be nerve-wracking to watch these exposed beds through the winter, but most of the plants were small, well-rooted specimens from my favourite trusted online nursery (in southern Germany) costing only a few euros each, so hopefully any casualties will be minimal and not too expensive to replace. With our last two springs being so very warm and extremely dry, I have become wary of spring planting and am taking some risks.
Do you prefer to put in new plants in autumn or in spring?
As I write the rain and sleet is hammering against the window – a fine start to our ‘winter time’, as we turned our clocks back last night. Do your clocks change soon too? The debate is on in the EU whether we should finally get rid of daylight saving and stay with ‘summer time’ all year. But it may take some time before a decision is made. I will just wait and see, as I can’t see much of an advantage either way!
(If you don’t like tiny creepy crawlies, I suggest you go and look at a different post!)
On our walks in the woods recently we have once again noticed little black specks on the snow. Until now we thought it must be dirt from the machinery used for forestry or from old tractors driving through the woods, but this year it was extreme and so we took a closer look…
Here we saw that where tracks are (from tractor tyres, deer, our footprints, skis etc) there is more of this ‘dirt’. Could it be soot? Is our air so bad? Here, in the middle of nowhere, with no industry for miles…
When we got home my Man of Many Talents googled for ages, trying to find something about it, and when he showed me what he had found I was AMAZED! He went back to get more photos so we could check the facts!
Now I’m going to get even closer…
They are SNOW FLEAS! Now, maybe we are the only people in the world who have never heard of snow fleas before, so I hope I am not showing my ignorance, but aren’t they simply incredible? Here are several hundred or even thousands of them gathering in the hollows of tracks.
Now a little information that we found in German, summarized:
Snow fleas come out of the ground in February/March when the temperature is just above freezing. They are often thought to be soot, as they cover the snow quite thickly in places. But these ‘specks of dirt’ are all the same size (around 1 millimetre long). They can crawl and jump (about 10cm high). However, they aren’t actually fleas, but springtails, so Wikipedia says they are technically not insects.
They emerge at temperatures of about -3°C, and live on fungi, pollen or algae which provide them with a special protein that functions as a kind of antifreeze. They prefer damp forests with evergreens. It is a real migration at this time of year, as they use the snow to move more easily and to search for food and for new ground where they can increase their population.
For scientific purposes my Man of Many Talents let some crawl across his hand, and we think they are actually smaller than 1 millimetre…
So, please let me know if you have ever encountered these fascinating little creatures and any extra information would be very welcome!