Category Archives: wildlife

Colourful plants in the stumpery mid May 2024.

Mid May 2024 Colour in the garden.

Hooray – the sun is finally shining and it is warm!  The plants (and weeds) are romping away.  There are lots of colourful flowers open now, the aquilegias with all their different pinks, purples and whites, and the foliage colours are just as amazing.  I do love the bronze foliage of some of the younger leaves especially some of the ferns and the rodgersia.

bronze foliage on Osmunda regalis 'Purpurascens' fern.
Osmunda regalis ‘Purpurascens’
Bronze leaves of Rodgersia podophylla
Rodgersia podophylla

There are different green and purples in some other ferns and browns in the ones with ‘hairy’ fronds.  I think the hairs are actually called scales although they don’t look like scales.

green and purple foliage of Athyrium otophorum var. okanum fern
Athyrium otophorum var. okanum
Green fronds of Asplenium scolopendrium 'Cristata'
Asplenium scolopendrium ‘Cristata’
Close croziers of Dryopteris crispa congesta fern.
Dryopteris crispa congesta
Bushy green croziers of Polystichum setiferum Cristato pinnulum fern.
Polystichum setiferum Cristato pinnulum
'Hairy' fronds of Polystichum polyblepharum fern.
Polystichum polyblepharum
Silvery and purple fronds of Athyrium niponicum 'silver falls' fern.
Athyrium niponicum ‘silver falls’

The tree heath Erica arborea is flowering it’s heart out and the bees love the tiny flowers the centre of which a purple.  It has come back very well after it got big chop in 2021. The rowan was covered in blossom last year but this year is very disappointing.  You can just about see a few clusters at the top of it in the left side of the next pic.

White and purple flowers of Erica arborea alongside the pink flowers if the Hebe Pink paradise.
Erica arborea and Hebe ‘Pink paradise’.
White flowers with purple centre of Erica arborea.
Erica arborea close up

The amazing purple (garnet) foliage  of the Acer palmatum ‘Dissectum Garnet’ is looking  gorgeous just now contrasting well with the bright greens around it.  Although it looks very purple, the closer you get to it you can see a green tinge to it.

Deep garnet foliage of the Acer palmatum 'Dissectum Garnet'
Acer palmatum ‘Dissectum Garnet’.

The stumpery has plenty of colour with the white primula Snowflake which has a pink tinge to it,  blue ajugas mixed in with white galium odoratus, purple honesty, pale blue forget-me-nots,  a few pulmonarias and the pale blue Veronica Gentionoides Blue streak and more dark purple foliage of the huecheras.  We have borrowed the dark foliage of next doors tree.  The lime green of the Acer shirasawanum aureum really shines.

Colourful plants in the stumpery mid May 2024.
The stumpery in mid May 2024.
Blue Ajuga reptans bugle mixed with white Galium odoratum in the stumpery.
Ajuga reptans mixed with Galium odoratum.

A few beasties that I found this month were a Rosemary beetle (Chrysolina Americana) which looks absolutely beautiful.  The RHS says just to live with them unless they become a problem.

Purple and green shiny Rosemary beetle (Chrysolina americana).
Rosemary beetle (Chrysolina Americana).

A rather lovely white-legged snake millipede (Tachypodoiulus niger).

White-legged snake millipede (Tachypodoiulus niger).
White-legged snake millipede (Tachypodoiulus niger).

We are always told that slugs and snails don’t like moving over sharp objects but I have found slugs and snails going up the very sharp prickles of my moss roses.  This slug doesn’t look bothered at all.  I have found the tell-tale slime trails all over a very prickly cactus in the conservatory before too.

Slug going up prickly moss rose stem.
Slug on the very prickly moss rose stem.

And lastly for now the heather beetle (Lochmaea suturalis).  Apparently it wasn’t just my garden they were swarming into but even on beaches elsewhere. It isn’t a great photo. They have been quite a problem in the moorlands so I am hoping they are not going to be a problem here too.

Heather beetle (Lochmaea suturalis).
Heather beetle (Lochmaea suturalis).

I have seen plenty orange tip butterflies and holly blues and a few speckled wood butterflies so far.  And the usual bees, wasps and flies are around, but so far, no more wasp nests in the raised bed.  Our next-door neighbour had a lovely garden visitor the other day.  Our gardens back onto a golf course where the is a small herd of deer, and one of them got through her broken gate.  On the one hand, I would love to have them visit our garden, but on the other hand, they may cause a lot of damage.  I have no idea what plants they would eat.  It is back to chilly weather and overcast skies now.  It was nice to see the sun while it lasted.


oxalis palmifrons succulent plant with white flowers.

Beginning of October in the garden.

I know that I am forever going on about the weather but we have been having quite a bit of rain just now and all my small plants in small pots are waterlogged.  I have been trying to keep them under the table during the worst of the rain but then we had the strong winds so I had to turn the plastic table upside down so it wouldn’t blow away.  Then I put them under the bench with a sheet of black plastic over the bench, with large stones holding it in place, and that helped a bit.  They are still waterlogged so I really want some nice sunshine and gentle breeze to help dry them out.

I do like how the garden looks after a rain shower though and there is still plenty of colour around.  We did get a few nuts from the tortured hazel tree (corylus avellena contorta), the squirrels missed a few, and there were plenty berries on the elder (sambucus nigra ‘Black lace’).  The newly planted crab apple (malus sylvestris ‘Evereste’) has a few tiny, orange crab apples on it,  the rowan (sorbus hupehensis ‘Pink pagoda’) has loads of deep pink berries and the variegated holly ( ilex aquifolium ‘ variegata’) has a few berries too.  We trim the holly to keep it in shape so we can get past it without being jagged, but that can mean we don’t get many berries.  We tend to leave them all for the wildlife.  You can tell it is autumn by the huge number of spider’s webs about that catch the mist and look fabulous.

rowan berries with spider's web
Deep pink rowan berries with spider’s web
hazelnuts from contorted hazel tree
hazelnuts from corylus contorta (contorted hazel)

The astrantias are still looking good in pots on the patio although the dark red one is turning purple as it is going over.  The pink one is a seedling from a white variety ‘shaggy’ and it is quite a lovely pink shade.

dainty pink astrantia flowers
Dainty pink astrantia flowers.

After the rain the view from the patio is quite nice.  I don’t like the very white garage so I cropped it out, maybe one day we will get it painted  a nicer colour (except the house is also bright white so maybe not).

view of the left of the garden from the patio
View of the left of the garden from the patio.
view of the right side of garden from the patio.
View of the right side of garden from the patio.
view of the garden from the patio.
View of the garden from the patio.

In the conservatory I have planted a few purple crocus and some tiny narcissi for some colour in late winter.  My cyclamen have had their summer rest and are staring to flower now.  one in particular is in full bloom while the others have yet to catch-up.  The oxalis palmifrons is looking lovely just now.  The little bulbs were planted just a few weeks ago and they are flowering now.  I love how the flowers untwist.

Single white oxalis palmifrons flower
Single white oxalis palmifrons flower.
oxalis palmifrons succulent plant with white flowers.
Oxalis palmifrons

The small unnamed cactus has had a few fluffy buds on it for the last few months and despite food and water they have failed to open.  It did have a few that opened into fabulous large white flowers that smell divine earlier in the year but not these ones.  I will leave them on and see if they do something next year.

Fluffy buds on a small cactus.
Fluffy buds on the small cactus.

I found some damage on a couple of plants during my checking and watering of the plants.  It is good to catch things early so any diseases don’t get passed onto other plants.  One poor little lithops has damage at the base of a leaf but I don’t know if it is slug damage or perhaps there was a bit of water sitting there.  I probably don’t need to worry about that as these leaves will wither and it will produce new leaves after that.

Lithops damage caused possibly by slugs.
Lithops slug damage?

There is something on one of my Christmas cactus cuttings that I think might be botryosphaera dothidea that causes a kind of canker.  Just in case it is that I binned the plant, washed my hands, then checked all the other seedlings and plants in the conservatory.  The good news it that it was only one plant that had it.

possible botryosphaera dothidea infection on Christmas cactus
botryosphaera dothidea ? on Christmas cactus

The conservatory attracts many pollinators into it but sadly some of them can’t find their way back out again.  I have seen loads of different hover flies, bees, wasps and other insects happily buzzing around the flowers but this  male (I think) twin-spot centurion fly (Sargus bipunctatus) caught my eye with its metallic colours.  It has gorgeous metallic  green, copper and blue on its body and iridescent wings.  In the first photo I was trying to capture the colours in its wings.  The second photo it had sadly died and the wings were apart revealing the beautiful colours on its body.

Sargus bipunctaus fly iridescent wings
iridescent wings on Sargus bipunctatus.
Sargus bipunctatus metallic green, copper and blue colours on body
Metallic colours on the Sargus bipunctatus.

It is now getting colder so we are getting fewer insects in the conservatory, although it wasn’t plagued by the usual greenfly this year.  I have to remember to water more sparingly now and I still need to check the plants daily for any signs of disease.  Slugs are still coming in so I also need to check underneath the plants.

view of the garden from the patio

Moving plants around in the garden.

If a plant is struggling to cope with the conditions in its allotted area it is better move it to somewhere it will thrive rather than just survive.  So I have moved a clematis over the to the far side of the garage wall where the roots will be in more shade but the plant itself will be in the sun for a good part of the day.  In its place is a more vigorous clematis which should cope with the conditions better but I will put something over the root area to protect the roots from getting too hot.  The periwinkle which was way too overgrown was removed as I have loads of periwinkle around the garden.  The blue centauria has now gone as I was sick of it being covered in mildew.  It is a shame as the bees loved it, but,   I will find something else for them to enjoy, although in the mean time I have put a colourful fern in its place.  The fern was originally over by the wall and although it did like it there  it was hidden from view by the foxgloves.  I have dotted some erigeron seedlings (left over from the plant sale) in various places that looked a bit bare.  Now then, the dark leaved hardy geranium is a conundrum – I have two planted about a foot apart and only one is mildewy and the other is just fine.  I think I will dig up the sick one and give it some TLC on the patio.   Both the red astrantia and the pink one are looking great just now as I dug them up from the garden and put them in pots on the patio where they are less likely to get damaged but the huge slugs.

Red astrantia in a copper pot
Red astrantia Gill Richardson group
red astrantia single flower
Red astrantia flower

There is still a lot of colour in the garden – the Japanese anemones are out in their full glory, as are the persicaria, purple cyclamen, fuchsia, and the phlox.  Still going are the heuchera, erigeron, gaura, oregano, sellinum and there are sporadic flowers still on the roses, hebe, viburnum, and low growing campanula.  The grass flowers of the miscanthus ‘Red chief’ are just coming out and they look great next to the deep purple of the acer palmatum dissectum.  In the pond the purple loosestrife is just going over and there are still some pink water-lily flowers, blue pickerel weed and some yellow monkey flowers.  The deep pink berries of the rowan are looking splendid and the deep purple – almost black berries of the elder will soon be picked off by the birds and squirrels.  The dark purple foliage of the cotinus, heuchera, elder and acer really stand out amongst the greens and golds of the other plants and for bright highlights there are the silvery leaves of the snow in summer and the wormwood.

Gaura with one white flower
Guara lindheimeri The bride
view of the garden from the patio
From the patio

Indoors there are still flowers on the stephanotis and a few of the sempervivums.  There is one indoor cyclamen which is in full flower while the others have yet to get going.  I have one little flower on one of the lithops which is exciting as I didn’t think I would get a flower so quickly.  I also found a couple of bright pink cactus berries this year on the Old lady cactus (Mamillaria hahniana).  Apparently the slugs like the berries – I took one berry off to photograph it and the next day it was almost all eaten.  The colour scheme indoors reflects the garden colours with the deep purple shades coming from the foliage of the sempervivum chocolate kiss and the aeonium voodoo.  The variegated leaves of the cheese plant, spider plants and mother-in-laws-tongue  bring some brightness and the echivera have a lovely pale silvery aqua colour with a soft pink tinge.  Kalanchoe tomentosa ‘Dorothy Brown’ may look boring to some but I love the hairy green leaves tinged with brown.  Of course you can add more colour with your containers too. Upstairs during the summer I need to keep the blind closed to prevent the room overheating so only plants that do well in shade can cope so they are all the dark green foliage plants like Dracaena fragrans and Dypsis lutescens, the peace lily copes well too.  My air plants do get a day light as they wouldn’t cope at all in the deep shade.

stone plants with a little bud showing
Flower bud in a lithop
a lithop (stone plant) in flower from above
Lithop 1st flower
lithop (stone plant) flower from the side
Lithop flower side view
fluffy spiky cactus with a pink berry on top
Mamillaria hahniana (old lady cactus) with berry.
pink cactus berry - seed pod
Pink berry (seed pod) from Old lady cactus
green furry succulent with brown tinges on the leaves
Kalanchoe tomentosa ‘Dorothy Brown’
green succulent plant in a colourful plants pot
Crassula ovata cutting in a bright colourful pot

Just now the tiny baby frogs are all around the garden so before doing any work in an area ii is best to just ruffle the vegetation before cutting or digging anything up.  They are so well camouflaged and so very tiny!

tiny baby from camouflaged on a rock by the pond.
Tiny baby frog on a rock.
Tiny baby frogs beside the pond.
Two tiny baby frogs by the pond.

And to finish August with a lovely butterfly.

Red admiral butterfly on a rose leaf
Red admiral butterfly.
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.

Mid July, flower combinations that work.

You often hear that beauty is in the eye of the beholder but within the garden there are certain plant combinations that work better than other.  I happen to think that if there are too many different textures, colours and shapes all together then you can lose the overall effect, they all battle for your attention.  I usually have a picture in my head of what the overall effect should look like when I pace my plants together and sometimes things workout the way I had imagined them and sometimes they don’t.  For example I planted a purple leaved cotinus behind a pink climbing rose and a white astrantia: the flowers of the astrantia have a pinky/purple colouration in the centre when young  and the zephirine drouhin rose is a nice pink and these should look great against the purple leaves of the cotinus.  The dog had other plans and crashed around behind the cotinus and broke a few branches and it is still only about 30cm high.  The rose doesn’t appear to like that spot and is struggling.  I will replace the rose with a honey suckle to grow up the arch instead as it has purple tinges to it’s leaves but has vibrant flowers which should look good against the cotinus (once it does get going).

The pale pink climbing rose Generous gardener looks good against the purple leaved Sambucus nigra ‘Black lace’ and picks up the pink of the flowers too, but I will have to make a decision soon of how high I want the sambucus to grow as I don’t want a huge tree.

Generous gardener and Sambucus nigra

The relaxed habit of the moss roses go well with the rather straggly foxgloves in the woodland stumpery, and the purples look good together.  The purple of the moss roses fades to almost lilac as the rose goes over.

Moss rose William Lobb with foxgloves.

The dark purple of the Munstead wood rose is picked up in the verbascums (possibly Raspberry ripple) behind it.

Rose ‘Munstead wood’ against Verbascum ‘Raspberry ripple’.

By the patio I have a pink combination that works well.  I did have a struggle to get the Cistus parviflorus to thrive as the rather heavy wood pigeons kept trashing it.  That area is quite heavy clay that holds the water well and these all thrive there now.  The rose Gertrude Jekyll is still quite young but I do like the way that even though they are all pink flowers – all the pinks work together as the flower shapes are different,  and each plant has a very different habit  and leaf shape, so it keeps the combo interesting.

Gertrude Jekyll, pink astilbe and Cistus parviflorus combo.

Beside the ramp into the back garden is a shady,  damp corner.  The front of the corner gets a bit of sun and the cowslips enjoy that area.  Being yellow they add a bit of colour in what could be rather a dull area.  They go well with the ferns.

Primula sikkimensis with Osmunda regalis ‘Purpurascens’ and other fern.

As you wander around the garden your eye should travel easily along as the colours repeat themselves on the way.  I have dots of deep purple in every bed, pinks, and blues with highlight plants with white or yellow or gold.  It doesn’t matter if the colours are in the foliage or the flowers or even the containers or background.

Colours working together around the garden.

It goes without saying really that this applies to the pond too.

Purple Lythrum salicaria with Thalictrum flavium Glaucum yellow.

I just had to show a few other photos of plants that caught my eye this month.

I planted this fern (Dryopteris erythrosa ‘Brilliance’ or Japanese Rosy Buckler fern) a couple of years ago but the shrub along side it grew right over it so I moved it last year.  It has taken a while to get going but I just love the vibrant copper colour it brings to the shady woodland area. It really shows up against the predominantly green background but goes well with the purple/bronze  shade of the heuchera in the front.

Dryopteris erythrosa ‘Brilliance’ (Japanese Rosy Buckler fern)

In the conservatory it is the flower spike of the Sempervivum Mint marvel with the white flowers with reddish/purple centres  that stands out amongst the pinky/peach colour of the other sempervivums.

Sempervivum ‘Mint marvel’ flower spike.
White and reddish/purple flowers of Sempervivum ‘Mint marvel’

Wildlife I have spotted in the garden (and managed to get a photograph of) in the last couple of weeks include: a seven spot (?) ladybird larva, a mottled grass hopper (Myrmeleotettix maculatus) and a few meadow brown butterflies (Maniola Jurtina).  The photographs are not great (taken quickly with my phone) and I have yet to see a meadow brown on an actual plant – I only see them when they have come into the conservatory).

Seven-spot ladybird larvae (Coccinella septempunctata)
Myrmeleotettix maculatus
Maniola jurtina (female I think)

Now it is back to rain, rain, and more rain so not much gardening happening just now.

Quiet time in May.

Usually I am rushing around in May keeping the weeds down, clearing the duck weed from the pond, scraping in between the slabs on the patio, front garden and back garden, sowing seeds, taking cuttings and photographing the changing scenes in the garden as spring turns to summer.  However, this May I was laid low with pain.  My whole back, shoulders, upper arms, neck and head were all far too painful (despite painkillers)  to do much of anything.  I saw an NHS physio and followed their instructions which didn’t help AT ALL.  Just the other day I saw a private physio who released some of the very tense muscles and gave me different exercises to follow so I am hopeful that I can soon be as pain free as I can to carry on gardening.  So in the mean time here are a few quick snaps of some of the wildlife I found when I did get into the garden. I still haven’t seen the newts so Harry took the newt photo in the evening.

The ladybird was sitting in the little notch of an indoor cyclamen leaf.

ladybird sitting in the notch of a cyclamen leaf
peek-a-boo ladybird
two newts

I found a few of these tiny pea clams (fingernail clams) Sphaerium corneum in the pond and that is the first time I have seen these.  The photo is just taken quickly when I put it on a towel on my knee before I returned it to the pond.

pea clam found in our small pond
Sphaerium corneum

I know this is a very poor photo but I just quickly snapped this holly blue butterfly while I was watering the patio plants.  I have seen a few of these this year flitting around the holly bush.  I think this one is a female.

holy blue butterfly on holy bush
Celastrina argiolus


In flower mid August

There are still plenty of flowers for the pollinators to make use of in mid August: cyclamen are beginning to flower just before their foliage comes up, persicaria, Japanese anemone, nepeta, erigeron, plox, selinum, potentilla, heuchera, tierella, geum, salvia, sweet peas, roses, verbena, lamium, wooly rock jasmine, some hellebores, some verbascum, honey suckle, fennel and oregano all still going.  Just going over now are the  purple loosestrife, pond lily and pickerel weed.  There are a few sporadic flowers on the astrantia and hardy geraniums and campanula.  Some shrubs and small trees think that autumn has come early and are colouring up and leaves are falling so it is time to get the pond net out to start clearing the fallen leaves off the surface.  The rhododendron still looks poorly. Everything needs a good drink but we are still just getting the odd small shower that is hardly getting very deep so I am still having to water certain plants.  The white phlox is looking great but the label says Phlox paniculata ‘ice cream’  but when I googled it they should be pinkish flowers or white flowers with pink centres.  This may have been wrongly labelled and could be ‘White admiral’ instead.

I have moved the succulents that were in the conservatory onto the bench now as we did have a start date for getting the conservatory fixed in August.  That has now changed  to September so I have just left them on the old bench for now.

The front garden is not looking great just now as the perriwinkle is all dried and brown and there is nothing in flower except the weeds.  The mahonia and epimediums are looking ok as is the hedge so there is still some greenery.  The Virginia creeper is doing well so it should colour up well in autumn.  I would like to get more lavender and a few other drought resistant flowering plants out in the front garden for next year.

While I am out in the morning doing the watering I usually come across some bug or other.  I was watching a wasp trying to get a grip of a dried mealworm that had fallen from the bird food.  It had a real wrestle with it but gave up.  I try to look up the Latin names of the beasties I find but they can be hard to identify so I have no idea if they are what I think they are.

brown forest shield bug
Pentatoma rufipes (Forest shield bug)
small wasp trying to get a hold of 1/2 dried mealworm
wasp wrestling 1/2 dried mealworm
Tachina fera flies mating on selinum plant
Tachina fera flies mating on selinum
Athalia rosae turnip sawfly on miscanthus leaf
Athalia rosae (turnip sawfly)
trailing babies breath and unknown rose in pots
Babies breath and unknown  rose
Phlox paniculata White admiral perhaps
Phlox paniculata White admiral?
Honesty seed heads backlit
Honesty seed heads backlit
flowers in pots on the patio August 2022
Pots on the patio August 2022
Succulents on the old bench
Succulents on the old bench
View from the patio August 2022
From the patio August 2022

Excuse the photo of the view from the patio – yes it has the bottom of the bird feeder on it!  You can see how the deep shade creeps up the garden from the back due to the trees in the golf course.  By 16:00 most of the garden and part of the patio is in deep shade.  We used to be able to have BBQs in the afternoon in the summer sunshine, and have our dinner out on the patio at 18:30 but sadly not any more.  This year however, the shade has been a blessing in during the heat waves.

Mid July and still watering the garden.

 Yes we may be in Scotland but we have had very little rain for the last few months (despite the showers this morning).  I have had to water the garden and top up the pond every 2nd day or so.  Plus watering the patio, conservatory and house plants.  The good thing about being very dry is that the roses have lots of sunshine (but they do require a lot more water) and so have done particularly well so far.  I planted a new rose in a difficult area by the patio, Gertrude Jekyll, it is just a small plant just now so hopefully it will do well there as it is quite heavy soil and it should get enough sun.  There has been very little slug and snail damage apart from  a few plants that have been absolutely decimated.  I have Astrantia major Alba, shaggy and Rubra, but only the Rubra has been attacked by slugs (the huge Spanish slugs).  I have moved it’s position now a few times and it always comes under attack, even when in pots on the patio.   So I have now dug them up and planted something else in it’s place for the time being.  I am going to try a very dark variety called Astrantia Gill Richardson group which is on the patio just now but if it gets no damage there then I will try it out in the garden.   

Another plant to succumb to slug damage is one of the Selinum Wallichianums.  There are about six of these in various parts of the garden and only one has been damaged, even though it only about a foot away from another of the same.  I definitely know it is slug damage as I picked them off myself!  

The witch hazel Hamamelis inter Diane foliage is looking almost autumnal already but rather lovely especially if back lit by the sunshine.  The Verbascum  raspberry ripple that was divided last year is looking a bit bushier now.  The double purple hellebore that was moved earlier this year and sadly cut in half by mistake is actually flowering just now! The blue geranium with dark purple leaves has finnaly flowered.  It is Geranium pratense Midnight Reiter and when it was sold to me it had very little root system so I should probably not have planted it out as soon as I did.  That was a couple of years ago and it has hardly grown at all but it has flowered now.  And the sweet peas are doing rather well now that they can get a bit more sunshine as the next door neighbour’s large shrub has been cut back.  (We have no neighbour there yet as the house is still being worked on by the current owner who is a property developer.  Let’s hope whoever moves in will chop that blasted huge purple leafed bird cherry tree down that has taken over our left hand corner of the garden!)  I did find a ladybird that I am just not sure if it is the dreaded Harlequin ladybird or not.  The Harlequin ones are bad news for our own native ladybirds but it can be hard to identify them properly.

The front garden is looking very dry but I haven’t been watering it much at all.  The small diamond shaped bed in the middle only has tulips and iris in it and is rather boring.  It looks great when the yellow bearded iris are in flower but they only last a couple of weeks then it is boring for the rest of the year.  I have decided to get a small rowan tree (Sorbus vilmorinii) and maybe some lavender to plant there instead to give a bit more interest all year round.  But that job will have to wait a bit.  So here are a few more pics for now from the back garden.

Verbascum raspberry ripple, pale pink flower spires with purple fluffy centres
Verbascum raspberry ripple

Pale pink climbing rose Generous gardener
Generous gardener rose

deep reddy pruple rose Munstead wood
Munstead wood rose

Purple moss rose William Lobb
William Lobb moss rose

Pink rose Gertrude Jekyll
Gertrude Jekyll rose

purple leaves and blue flowers of Geranium pratense Midnight Reiter
Geranium pratense Midnight Reiter
double purple hellebore flowering in July
Double purple hellebore

witch hazel foliage in July Hamamelis inter Diane
Hamamelis inter Diane

slug damage on Astranta major rubra
Astrantia major rubra slug damage

healthy foliage of Selinum wallichianum
Selinum wallichianum healthy

slug damaged foliage on Selinum wallichianum
Selinum wallichianum slug damage

possibly a Harlquin ladybird
Harlequin ladybird possibly?

native ladybird
Ladybird native?

selection of sweetpeas in a bunch in a green glass vase
Sweet pea bunch

Photos of the garden in May and June 2022

We have had so much sun and wind in the last few weeks that I have have to water the garden, patio and conservatory almost daily so it is nice to finally have some rain so I can get some other work done.

There are signs of mildew on the new variegated honeysuckle, perennial cornflower, meadowsweet, some aquilegias and some pulmonarias.  The slug and snail problems are mainly on the red astrantia (although in many books they say astrantias are slug proof! –  the white astrantia are fine however), the Jack frost brunnera at the back but not the ones at the front of the border, and the salvia Amistad and the baby’s breath.  Most of the other plants are left alone or just slightly nibbled.

I now have to cut back all the irises in the garden as they are all over.  None of the pond irises have flowered yet.  I am still waiting for the dark leaved geranium to flower – it has taken 2 years to grow just a couple of inches wide so I am guessing it will take ages to spread.

Here is a selection of  piccies taken over May and June.

orangey brown moth called the herald or Scoliopterix libatrix
Scoliopterix libatrix


unbanded yellow form of Grove snail or Cepaea nemoralis
Cepaea nemoralis


unknown white iris
white iris unknown


right side of pond
right side of pond


right side of pond taken from different angle
right side of pond different angle


honey lily or Nectaroscordum siculum by chimney
Nectaroscordum siculum
purple heuchera beside golden spirea and pink flowered hebe
Heuchera, hebe and spirea


veronica filiformus (speedwell) on log
Veronica filiformis on log


path in the garden May 2022
part of the garden in May 2022


Enkianthus campanulatus
Enkianthus campanulatus


Enkianthus campanulatus flowers against purple sambucus nigra
Enkianthus campanulatus flowers


spreading geranium with pink/lilac flowers
Geranium pink/lilac unknown


geranium wargrave pink in raised bed
Geranium wargrave pink


white geranium with pink centers in the raised bed
Geranium cantabrigiense biokvo


Geranium with double lilac flowers
Geranium double lilac unknown


Geranium with blue flowers
Geranium himalayense blue


blue iris Jane Philips
Iris Jane Philips


Ligusticum scoticum white flowers
Ligusticum scoticum


deep pink foxgloves
Foxgloves in the stumpery


white foxglove
White foxglove


blue creeping campanula
Campanula garganica Blue diamond


deep purple clematis
Clematis warszawski Nike


red astilbe
Astilbe Fanal red in the stumpery


white astrantia
Astrantia major white


tall yellow Himalayan cowslip
Primula sikkimensis


pink climbing rose Zephirin Drouhin
Zephirine Drouhin rose


pink climbing rose Genereous gardener
Generous gardener rose


velvety crimson rose Munstead wood
Munstead wood rose


selection of pots of flowers on the patio
Patio pots


mouse ornament in the trough
Mouse ornament in trough


March 2022 on a cold but sunny Edinburgh day.

 We have had some wet, windy, gloriously sunny and warm days in March, but are now back to very chilly weather and it is trying to snow/hail/sleat in between sunny spells.  No wonder the frogs left it a little later this year to spawn.  In 2019 and 2020 the first spawn in our pond was spotted  in February (in 2020 it was as early as the 5th) but this year the first spawn was on the 18th March.  We can now count about 7 clumps of spawn which means there are at least 7 female frogs around the pond.  We haven’t seen any newt spawn yet.

7 clumps of frog spawn 18th March 2022
Frog spawn 18/03/22

Some areas of the garden are looking better than others right now.  The stumpery is looking fine as some the spring bulbs are coming through such as the narcissi and chinadoxa,  some of the primroses, anemones, pulmonaria, hellebores, vinca and erythroniums are in flower now.  Although some of the narcissi have gone over, there are others still to come out.  Some of the tulips are just ready to open.  A couple of shrubs that have scented flowers: the mahonia out the front, and the lonicera fragrantisima and osmanthus burkwoodii out the back are flowering well.  There have been quite a few bees and butterflies out in the warmer days taking advantage of these flowers.

I found this dark edged bee fly ( Bombylius major) sitting on a tulip leaf as it was watching a wasp very closely.  I have just read about it, and have found out that the bee fly will follow wasps and single bees to their nest, they will then gather some sandy soil with their feet, and flick this, along with their eggs, near the entrance to the wasp/bee nest.  The larva will attach itself to a wasp/bee and it will be taken into the nest where it will then find a wasp/bee larva to feed on.  After which it will turn into a pupa, hatch and fly away undetected.

wasp and bee fly on a tulip leave
Bombylius major (dark edged bee fly)

I will need to put the pot of Iris Katharine’s gold in a better place for next year.  It is one of the earliest flowering plants in the garden and I had the pot under the garden bench just to protect it from some of the heavy rain.  By the time I remembered it was there it was almost finished flowering.

Iris Katharine's gold in a pot
Iris Katharine’s gold

 There are lots of jobs still to do:  over the wall is now rather overgown and needs a good sorting out.  The vinca major is now acting like a climber and is growing up the fence and smothering the hydrangea petiolaris.  It actually looks ok but it needs cutting back.  There are ferns and lots of few-flowered-leek popping up everywhere so they will need to come out.  The ivy needs to be kept in check.  I am going to be quite ruthless now and any plant not earning it’s keep must go.  I have started getting rid of some of the plain brunnera in the stumpery.  It does look ok when it is in flower but it is rather plain and I wish I had planted the Jack frost version instead.  I had let a few hellebore seedlings grow a few years ago but I don’t actually like the colour of the flower so it has gone now to another home.  I don’t bin these but they go to other peoples gardens, or the local park takes any plants that would do well in the park.  I also put them in the plant sale at the Duddingston Kirk Garden Club plant sale (which this year will be held on Saturday 30 April 10:30 – 12:00).

CVinca major growing up and over hydrange petiolaris
Overgrown vinca major all over hydrangea petiolaris

Here is the view from the patio.  You can just see in the background one of the large ash trees has had a huge bough snap off during the strong winds.  The entire tree is pretty dead and I think most of the ash trees in that golf course are going to have to come out.  That is good news for us as we may get more sunshine into the garden.  What with all the shade from the trees and all the recent rain, the ‘sunny’ border hasn’t been able to dry off very well.  I have lost the nepeta again this year which were in the ‘sunny’ border.  I will just hae to keep taking cuttings each year.

view of the garden from the patio
View from the patio

This is how the stumpery is looking right now.  I love the dappled shade in this woodland area, and spring and early summer is the best time of year here before the tree canopy develops allowing less sunshine to get through. The whole garden will soon have plenty of colour.

The stumpery in March 2022
Stumpery in March 2022