Wordless Wednesday – Making a beeline for the poppies

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New to me this year, the absolutely stunning: Papaver rhoeas ‘Pandora’

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The ever popular Papaver somniferum

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A slightly disappointing form of Papaver orientalis ‘Royal Wedding’ (from seed)

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Set-aside strip of field poppies along side the wheat crop in Newton

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Wordless Wednesday – Rain-induced Bad Hair Day!

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Paper mulberry tree, Broussonetia papyrifera, in flower 6th June 2019

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Wildlife Wednesday – Water: The Great Attractor

Apologies, I know that it’s Thursday, but you know how things get. Regardless, I wanted to quickly link up with Tina for her monthly Wildlife meme, to share some of the babies and new creatures I’ve seen in the garden over the last month.

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This baby crow was on the path next to our house. It is fresh out of the nest by the looks of it. I didn’t see a parent and I don’t know what happened to it.

The best place to look for wildlife in this hot, dry weather is where there is water, be that a dish, a birdbath, a fountain, a rill, waterfall or pond.

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We have two ponds and both are unfortunately growing blanket weed at an incredible rate. We pull it out regularly, but always leave it at the edge of the pond for a day so that sludge-based wildlife can crawl out of the mess and back into the pool. Last week the weed seemed to be full of wriggling dragonfly nymphs and this week they are stepping back out of the pond by themselves and also out of their ugly grey skins …

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A dragonfly exuvia. The white stringy bits mark the hole through which the dragonfly emerged. Check out this article to see how a dedicated enthusiast captured this transformation.

They have turned into beautiful, metallic-painted winged creatures. Here are some of the newly emerged ‘dragons’ we’ve spotted:

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 A four-spotted Chaser, Libellula quadrimaculata, alert for easy prey

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 A Large Red Damselfly, Pyrrhosoma nymphula, filling out its new wings

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Female Broad-bodied Chaser, Libellula depressa. (The male has a powder blue body and while I’ve seen them patrolling over our pond, I’ve not caught one on camera)

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Male (marked by the black spot on its wings) Banded Demoiselle, Calopteryx splendens

Meanwhile, the stone bubble fountain is attracting an ever increasing range of birds, including crows, rooks, magpies, woodpeckers and this rather glorious sparrowhawk:

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Sparrowhawk taking a drink at the bubble fountain

And our newly resident blackcap (he definitely overwintered here this year):

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Blackcap, Sylvia atricapilla, on the drilled stone bubble fountain

Plus various common garden birds. These young long-tailed tits seem to linger and play around the fountain for hours.

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Baby long-tailed tits enjoying the bubbles

Most don’t seem to mind sharing the resource, but size matters!

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Song thrush bathing, watched by a patient blue tit

Goldcrests have recently reappeared in the garden after an absence of half a year or so. They are very shy and mostly wait until other birds have gone before approaching the fountain. They don’t stay long, but come back several times during a washing ‘session’.

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Goldcrest, Regulus regulus

I’ve finally managed to take a decent photo of our other shy visitor: A lovely little wren, Troglodytes troglodytes. I’ve just read that it is the most common UK breeding bird with 8,600,000 territories. That seems amazing to me. I would never have guessed!

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Wren bathing in the waterfall.

I am also happy to say that a couple of days ago I saw a newt in the smaller pond on the patio. I will keep watch for it again so that I can try to get a picture for next month.

Meanwhile, happy wildlife spotting!

 

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Wordless Wednesday – Sadie and the Daisies

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Now you see her

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Now you don’t … hidden in a field of Leucanthemum vulgare aka. Dog or Oxeye daisies

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Ah, she’s sneaking round the edge

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In a Vase on Monday – A Wild Flower Explosion

At this time of year the local meadows are positively bursting with colourful early summer flowers. Last Monday I collected bright, glossy salsify, goats beard, cow parsley and field buttercups for a vase, which didn’t quite make it to a post:

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They looked great at first, but were ultimately frustrating, because Salsify closes itself up tightly by midday and cow parsley drops its tiny spent flowers in droves that made it look like I’d been throwing salt around the table every five minutes. Ah well, lesson  learnt!

This week’s wild flowers are better behaved, thank goodness:

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We have a Foxglove that I managed to accidentally snap off whilst weeding:

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I do like the way that the colour and freckles change down the spike, as the flowers mature.

We’ve got oodles of Ox-eyed daisies growing in our own meadow patch. They are fresh-faced and so cheerful:

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And finally there are beautiful blue Nigella flowers, which have their own fizz and energy.

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OK, Nigella is not strictly ‘wild’, but it does seed itself around everywhere, especially in our gravel driveway … so is game for a little culling. The flowers have strangely complex parts, but somehow, overall, feel like stick drawings.

The problem with this bunch of flowers is that they are so attractive to insects. With the back door open all afternoon I’ve had to keep chasing out bumblebees!

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I am joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her popular In-a-Vase-on-Monday meme. I admit to feeling a bit cheapskate sharing bunches of wild flowers, but if you check out Cathy’s post you find the whole gamut of pretty and glamorous blooms and arrangements.

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Wordless Wednesday – Postcards from The Salutation Gardens, Sandwich

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The Salutation Gardens in Sandwich, Kent are a triumph of structure, symmetry and planting

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The garden is 3.7 acres of ordered lushness

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A series of rooms, cleverly folded along axes and diagonals like an origami napkin

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It was early May when we visited and the gardens bold lines were just blurring as fresh growth spilt across hard and soft boundaries

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Bananas and tropical plantings were newly unwrapped

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Colour was beginning to show

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Interestingly, both house and gardens here were designed by the architect Edwin Lutyens (1912).

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Even the ordinary are interesting here. This is a deadnettle:  a Balm-leaved red deadnettle, Lamium orvala. Its flowers are large and showy.

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Vibrant tapestries have been woven from exotic and common-place flowers

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A very green view, from the house down the main perennial borders towards the sea

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Sadie was able to explore with us, because these lovely gardens are dog-friendly

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Six on Saturday – There aren’t enough hours in the day …

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I’ve been fighting off a virus this week and while I have finally enough strength to wield a fork and spade again, it feels as though everything is rushing away from me. I am desperately playing catch up with a long list of gardening jobs. Meanwhile, we are still basking in some pretty fantastic sunshine. (This will last only as long as the exam season of course.) Rain is forecast for tomorrow. Sadly, only at 16% likelihood here.

But now it’s time to select some gardening vignettes for Six on Saturday. I join a growing band of Sixers to link up with The Propagator for this fun meme. A warning though: Since starting this meme my plant wish list has grown exponentially.

Black Lace Elderflower

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Black Lace Elderflower (Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’) is beginning to open its pink frothy flowers

It is a favourite annual activity to collect plenty of elderflowers to make cordials, syrups and fizz. There isn’t quite enough open flower to do this yet, but I am beginning to smell that distinctive sherbet aroma in the lanes. It is a reminder to stock up on lemons and sugar. Mostly I use wild elderflower in these recipes, but I have discovered that Black Lace flowers colour the end products an attractive shade of pink, so I shall be using these as a priority.

Gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus

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Gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus

I have planted these in clusters around the garden, especially in the meadow patch (where they haven’t done particularly well it must be said), but I have found that they thrive best in the bone dry, sunny spots in the front garden where they are spreading. I love that intense magenta hit against all the spring greens and the fact that the flower spikes are fluttery and delicate and so much nicer than ordinary glads.

A New Geranium

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A bronze geranium

I found myself bartering half a dozen echiums for the chance to possess this geranium. I don’t actually know what it is called, but it has quite wonderful bronze leaves. I’ve tried to google it and it may be Geranium pratense ‘Okey dokey’ or ‘Hocus Pocus’ (any ideas?), but it cast a spell on me on a dull day when its, what then looked to be ghostly pale lilac, flowers floated over that ominous dark ruff. It looks lovely in the sun too, but I think its moment will be at dusk.

It’s Poppy Time

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The poppy season has started

Suddenly, they explode on the scene. So transient, but equally irresistible. This is my first oriental poppy of the year. Don’t you love them?

The Deer Protection Scheme

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Fortifications

Protection AGAINST deer I mean. Yes, the fortifications around the vegetable garden are nearing completion. Soon I will be able to grow beans and peas and … oh everything in safety again. Well, there are some doubters who think that 4’6″ (it’s timber, so it’s imperial!) won’t be enough to stop those jumping muntjacs. Then there are the wags who suggest grisly scenes of impalement on those spikes.

Only time will tell.

Ferns

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The Big Fern Reveal

There is nothing more satisfying than seeing ferns unfurl.

Well that is my six. What are yours?

Posted in Flowers, Six on Saturday | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments