Holly blue butterfly on golden oregano flowers

End of a very wet July 2023

This July has been rather dreich:  not very hot, not very sunny, but pretty wet and grey and a few unpredictable ninja showers.  The weather forecasters often told us we would be getting thunder and that was rarely correct, and even the showers never quite happened when they said they would happen.  I wouldn’t want to try and predict the weather – it is a thankless and difficult task.   We did get quite a bit of rain, but not as much as was forecast, and I would say it has been rather chilly for July, it has felt much more like autumnal weather.  Mind you, I would rather be here than in any of those countries that are experiencing floods or wildfires as they are horrendous for all concerned. Lives, homes, wildlife, and habitat can all be lost in the devastation.

I am trying to rescue some cuttings I had prepared for the Duddingston Kirk’s Garden Club’s Bring and Buy plants sale that is coming up in August.  They have been out on the patio table and got thoroughly drenched in the ninja showers over the last couple of days so I have put them on trays on the conservatory sofa to try and dry them out a bit.  The other cuttings that I didn’t haven space for on the sofa have been put under the patio table for the time being.

I have gone round the garden having a good look at what is thriving, and what is not, to see if I should make some changes.  Well, there are a few plants that consistently get covered in mildew and never look attractive because of it so I may dig them out and just dispose of them.  Things like the variegated honeysuckle that loses most of its leaves due to mildew in the spring, despite me keeping it watered in the dry weather, then it picks up a little by the end of July but it still looks pretty straggly.  Then it loses its leaves during autumn and winter and it hasn’t flowered at all.  Instead I may put Clematis Montana Freda there as it should be able to scramble up the trellis and cover the whole wall eventually and not require much, if any, pruning.  I have put some cuttings of Nepeta junior walker along that border so hopefully in summer it should look attractive, and during the autumn months there are cyclamen all along that border with beautiful leaves as well as colourful flowers once the nepeta has gone over.  In the raised bed I am going to hoick out the rose Zephirine Drouhin by the arch as it has never really liked being there.  It is looking awful this year.  I have fed, watered and sprayed and pruned it over the last few years and it has only sometimes looked ok.  There is a honeysuckle growing up the other side of the arch so that can stay as it is only a year old.  The Centaurea Montana in the stumpery always gets mildew in the spring and although the bees love it I might get rid of it this year.  I often chop it back after the first flowers go over and I get new foliage and flowers that look ok if that area stays moist.  I will have to move the Athyrium niponicum  ‘Silver falls’  fern again as it I still haven’t found the ideal place for it.  I put it in the stumpery at first but it got a little too much sun and the fronds turned brown, then I put it in the shady border next to the ramp but it is too damp there and yet again the fronds turned brown, so now it is in a pot on the patio on the shady side to see if I can get it to look a little happier.

The only gardening I have done really this July is chopping back the astrantias and astilbes and some of the hardy geraniums, and pulled out some weeds.

The good news is that we had the tree surgeons to cut down a large diseased sycamore in the golf course that overhung the back of the garden, and they raised the canopy of the ash trees either side of the sycamore.  This should allow more light and more rain to some of our plants at the back of the garden and prevent the larger branches of the ash breaking off.  You can’t really tell by my photo though.  I do wonder however, if my little rowan has ash die back as it has a couple of branches at the top that have died back.  We were advised to cut them back and keep an eye on it.  I hope it is ok and that it is just some natural die back as I don’t want to have to dig it out.

the trees in the golf course at the back of the garden
Golf course trees

I did get a couple of quick photos (using my phone again as Harry has borrowed my camera) of a few little critters.  The frog hopper (Philaemus spumarius) adults remind me of when I was a kid as I loved just touching them on the backside and seeing how far they jumped.  Their nymphs are what make all that spittle (cuckoo-spit) on plants hence the name of spittle-bugs too.  I also used to find the caterpillars of the Grey dagger moth (Acronicta Psi) on a tree in my childhood garden and I used to put them on my face (don’t know why but I did). I found a few on my rose bush on the patio under the cherry tree.  And I managed to take another picture of a holly blue butterfly (Celastrina argiolus), this time a male I think, on the golden oregano.

beige and brown adult frog hopper bug
Philaemus spumarius (common frog hopper)
grey dagger moth caterpillar which is stripy with a black spike on it's back.
Acronicta Psi caterpillar (grey dagger moth)
Holly blue butterfly on golden oregano flowers
Celastrina argiolus (holly blue butterfly – male

Well hopefully we shall see some nicer weather in August.

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