While I can no longer go on about months without rain, because last Thursday we did in fact have steady rain for a few hours, we have not seen any since and the ground is still solid. There are plenty of signs that the local wildlife are taking advantage of any moisture and easy pickings to be found. For instance, I am continuing my daily task of re-seating various plants that are dug up by our visiting badger (looking for grubs etc in damp i.e. watered places). I also noticed that the squirrels have accelerated their consumption of the ripening walnuts (Juglans regia), to the point where I can’t actually see any left on the tree (in August!!). Normal autumnal sources of seeds (like teasel and arum) have been stripped by the birds already. And finally, our vegetable crop of courgettes and squash are getting badly nibbled by either squirrels or rats. I prefer to visualise squirrels chewing on them, obviously! In fact I am going to share the current state of my black pumpkins as my first of today’s Six.
1 Dental Records
Oh my, what big teeth you have! I certainly have a pretty clear dental records for the culprit, but which creature does it match exactly? I’ve never seen damage on Cucurbitas like this before. 😦
2 Morning Glory ‘Split Personality’
This was billed as a new flower shape for an Ipomoea purpurea: perfect stars in magenta pink. I envisioned our long fence covered in masses of startling blooms. Well, I hate them. The flowers just look they’ve been randomly torn to pieces. A few of the flowers are split regularly and they do look quite nice and a bit like stars,
but more often than not, it is just one or two tears in each flower, making them look dreadfully tatty.
3 Coleus Campfire
This cultivar feels like a big departure from those bright, rigid, high-contrast varieties you see used as bedding. Coleus ‘Campfire’ looks wonderful planted in containers on its own. I’ve placed several around the patio as bold focal points. Elsewhere I’ve planted them in combination with silver plectranthus and geraniums. They are not as rusty orange as I expected, but I still like the deeper red tones mine are showing. They really glow like little bonfires in the early evening sunlight.
4 Agapanthus ‘Purple Emperor’
This was a recent birthday present from my sister. Thank you. I love it!
5 ‘Queen Victoria’ Lobelia and mildew resistant Busy Lizzies
Having seen that Busy Lizzies are now back on the market, resistant to downy mildew, I couldn’t resist buying a few for the first time in years. I chose cherry red to cheer up a north-facing narrow border that runs alongside the house. Then up popped the Lobelia cardinalis ‘Queen Victoria’ that I planted there last year for the same reason. Thankfully they don’t clash!
6 Late summer vegetable sowing
I’ve been reading various posts from allotment holders who are getting organised with regard to sowing vegetables to take them through the winter. I’ve never bothered before, but with the way everything seems to be in short supply this year, I’ve decided to give it a go. So I bought seed last week from MoreVeg, who specialise in smaller (and cheaper) seed packets. I sowed kale, lettuce, mustard, endive, winter purslane and mizuna in modules last weekend and already I am seeing germination across the board. By the time these have grown their second or third set of leaves, there should be space ready for them on the plot (when the courgettes have been pulled).
Fingers-crossed that they are a success.
Six-on-Saturday is hosted by Jonathon, who is currently on a 3-day run around Anglesey. Hope it goes well! Meanwhile ‘Six’ contributors are carrying on as normal and you can check out their posts through this link.
Have a good weekend!
At first glance I thought the Black Futsu pumpkin was a spotted squash until I realized those wee bites. Can you salvage what’s inside?
The bites look like they are healing over just fine, so I imagine I will be able to use the squash as normal. I doubt it would store well though.
I’ve been concerned that it is going to be a lean winter for the wild ones as they are eating up the winter stores now, but other than offering seed and suet, there’s isn’t much else I can do. I guess lean years are to be expected. Nature isn’t always kind.
I love your purple agapanthus… it is stunning!
Thanks Eliza. Yes, I am worried for wildlife this winter too. We do what we can and I know it makes a small difference!
The ‘Purple Emperor’ is really lovely! A colour you don’t usually see.
About your pumpkin, the pests came in groups and must have attacked it at the same time…Snails or slugs to me : it’s really weird because usually there are one or two bigger holes. However, you can still eat it.
Thanks Fred! I will definitely eat the pumpkin still, but peel it thickly 😉
Your comment about your badgers grubbing around for grubs reminded me of a first sight after rains soften our earth; the ibis show up, sometimes in large groups, working over lawns, golf courses, and so on for the various insects that become available. If there’s enough rain, the crawdads become reachable, and those long ibis beaks become even muddier!
It is interesting how rain rejuvenates. We’ve had frequent enough rains now that trees like crepe myrtle are putting on new blooms, and fungi are popping up all over. That should make the squirrels happy. I didn’t know until last year or so that they gather mushrooms and dry them in “pantries” for use during the winter.
Thanks so much for your comment about squirrels storing mushrooms. I didn’t know and have had a blast following up on that thread! We get green woodpeckers here doing the same as your ibis, except not for anything as exotic as crawdads, just ants.
Speaking of woodpeckers, here’s my favorite video of what those birds can accomplish. It’s titled with ‘squirrel,’ but woodpecker(s) were involved. Truly, amazing and hilarious.
Your pumpkin is looking like abstract art!
🤣 Yes! Or possibly aboriginal or pointillist??
I agree with you about the morning glory. Those grow wild here on the banks of the Indian River and are cobalt blue. You made me wonder what the squirrels are eating here. Wild grapes, I think. I am glad you finally got some rain. We did too. Good luck with the fall veg.
Thank you! All the vegetables are going quite mad since the rain. I thought the courgettes were over, but have picked 6 in the last week. I do prefer blue morning glory … next year!
Fred beat me to it, I was going to suggest slug damage to your pumpkin. The slugs are delving into my squashes before they can mature. Perhaps it is because so much else had been crisp fried. I don’t think it has been a good year for the delicate Morning Glory, I had only one grow to any significance and that was in the shade.
Hope that your morning glory is looking better after all this rain. Mine definitely is. I was thinking that it is rodents eating the pumpkins as there are grooves in the bites and quite a lot are paired together.
The Coleus are really pretty. We have got mice nibbling everything now, especially roots….
Thanks. Oh dear! I don’t know about crops below ground yet. The carrots have been OK so far.
What a well-nibbled pumpkin that is – most artistic! It’s hard to beat Busy Lizzies for staying power, whatever the weatherand
Sadly, the nibbling has continued and no longer looks artistic 😦
Hmm, I can imagine a point then that would become the case… 🙄