Saturday, 31 July 2010

Even when it is grey and overcast it is worth having a look in your garden to see what is visiting

It has been grey and overcast here in Staffordshire for what seems like ever, I know in June we were all enjoying a fantastic start to the summer, and we have remained fairly warm throughout July, but I am longing for a long sunny day here again now. When it is grey like this you don't particularly feel like spending a lot of time outside, but I have been trying to get out into my garden for an hour or so every day when ever possible, either to do some weeding or to make lavender bottles or sit and make jewellery, today I sat out with my camera to see what would appear!
I knew I wouldn't have to wait long as the lavender is constantly humming with bees and hover flies, at the moment, and now the marjoram is in full bloom and the buddlea has just started to flower there is plenty of nectar sources for butterflies.
So these are just some of the visitors to my garden this afternoon:

These flower heads of some of last years onions which we left in the ground are a magnet for these hover flies.

One comma butterfly visited very briefly 

                                                                Large white butterfly

Small White butterfly


Meadow Brown Butterfly


Micro moth

It is always good to see that the hazel nuts are forming too, just hope we get to them before the squirrels!

Friday, 30 July 2010

How to make lavender bottles

When Mr S's parting comment this morning is 'this lavender is beginning to get in the way' it is my cue to do something about it.  I love having lavender edging our drive, it smells wonderful when a car brushes past it, but of course when it is has been raining and you are getting in or out of the car you end up wet! so it does need to be managed.

I could just pick it dry the flowers and make lavender bags, as well as have my bunches of lavender in vases around the house, I prefer to make lavender bottles and it is so easy, so I thought I would spend a few minutes showing you how.
First pick your lavender, as long as possible! Today was a good day to do this as the sun wasn't out so the stalks won't dry out too quickly, it is always best to make these first thing in the morning while stalks are still moist.

Arrange stalks of lavender into a neat bunch, I keep turning the bunch as I am adding a new the stalks. I also strip the stalks of any flowers or leaves below the main flower, this makes it easier later. You can vary the size of bunches I make one bottle with thirty stalks and then several with nine or ten.

Tie the lavender stalks together just below the flower head  using string our coloured thread. knot tightly.

Carefully bend the stalks back over the flower heads, arranging the stalks evenly and neatly to make a cage over the flowers.
Tie stalks together with ribbon

Cut the ends of the stalks evenly and leave to dry for a several days.

Once dry you can remove the string or thread from below heads    

Monday, 26 July 2010

A Nuthatch is a real treat

I know it is a common bird in many gardens, but not so common in ours. This is the first one spotted in our garden this year and it could be as long as two years ago since our last sighting here, I'm afraid I wasn't keeping records before I started this blog, and years do seem to blur together now too, so another great reason for doing this blog.

This nuthatch has been visiting our bird feeders all afternoon.

Another new bird for this year also made its debut appearance today; a willow warbler, which chases the great tits off the feeder and any perch they might find in the hedge. We observed the same behaviour last year, and I really don't understand it. I thought willow warblers were insect eaters not seed eaters so I am presuming it isn't for the food, and why just the great tits which are so much larger than the warbler too.
This is happening far too quickly to get a picture, but if last year is anything to go by this will continue for a good week or so, so I might still manage to get some photos later!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Visitors to my lavender bush

Last night when Mr S and I arrived home from a lovely afternoon and evening with friends,  we approached the front door and started commenting on how many moths were flying around our lavender, it was just like a blizzard. The lavender is situated next to our front door, and above our door is a light, the moths I guess are attracted to the light as well as the lavender. In turn the moths would provide a tasty feast for predators on the search for easy easy pickings.
So imagine our delight when this tiny fluffy Tawny Owl arrived on the outside table next to the lavender and started dropping into the bush to pick out the moths!

So adorable, I  forgave it immediately for waking me on several occasions throughout the previous night, it is far too young to screech or hoot, all it does at the moment is squeak! every two seconds or so a short squeak. We stood watching it through our front door window for a good ten minutes before it flew onto our gate and then into the hawthorns at the back of the house (outside our bedroom window) where it remained for the rest of the evening.
This morning I went out looking rather too optimistically for some evidence of it's visit, a downy feather or even a pellet would have been good, but nothing,
While I was searching, though,  this beautiful Comma butterfly landed on the lavender along with two Small Tortoiseshell butterflies.

I will keep watching my lavender and garden throughout today and will post any other new sightings later, if anything else appears!

It is now the end of the day and I am afraid not a lot of new visitors to the lavender or even the garden today, just three new butterflies to add to my butterfly list including this gate keeper butterfly,

a large white  butterfly

and a small white butterfly.

I also managed to get these two photos of small tortoiseshell butterflies which I would like to share with you too .

Looking forward to seeing the young tawny owl again tonight!

Friday, 9 July 2010

Lavender Blue dilly dilly

I don't ever remember seeing my lavender looking so blue, it is absolutely stunning at the moment, I keep promising that I will make some lavender bottles with the flower stems, but I need to cut the stems in the morning and I never remember until later on in the day.

This bush is situated by my front door, there have been occasions when I have woken up early in the morning not able to get back to sleep, so I have opened the door and rubbed my hands over the stems, before going back to bed, it has such a soothing scent that it really does seem to help! I've certainly gone back to sleep every time.

I think you can almost imagine the of scent of the lavender when you look at this picture.

It is also attracting the butterflies too, although I am very sad to say there has been a noticeable lack of bees humming around it this year.

Meadow Brown Butterfly

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

We also had this Ringlet butterfly visit today

The lavender isn't the only plant with a profusion of flowers, this is our 'Rambling Rector' Rose This is the flower I look at ever day when sat at my computer, I think it is just gorgeous!