Asters in the Entrance Garden

Asters in the Entrance Garden 


We are coming to the end of our first year at the Flatford Wildlife Garden, but we remain open throughout October on weekends, Thursdays, and the school half-term (24-28th). There’s still a lot to see as late-season flowers like Aster and Ceratostigma continue to provide visual interest and food for visiting insects. I’m also looking forward to some of the foliage colour-transitions that go with the season, particularly the coming red of the Viburnum opulus, as well as the slow-reveal of the multicoloured willow-spilling, as it loses its leaves later in the season.


Viburnum opulus 'compactum' with berries and colour-changing leaves

Viburnum opulus 'compactum'


No gardening autumn would be complete without the glowing orange form of a decent pumpkin or two and we are ecstatic to have a good sized and quite beautiful specimen, nestling on the vegetable-bank on the high side of the garden. All of the pumpkins on this bank were a bit of a surprise, as the plants were donated to us as unknown Cucurbita. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.


Ceratostigma willmottanium flowers and leaves

Ceratostigma willmottanium 


On the wildlife front, it was the hummingbird hawk-moth that caused the most sustained excitement, visiting several times a day for a couple of weeks. It seemed particularly fond of the Ceratostigma willmottanium that I’ve already mentioned, but also visited the Verbena bonariensis and Dianthus carthusianorum. For me this moth drove home the importance of maintaining diverse planting in the garden as its flower preferences were quite different to that of most of the other insects we have in the garden.


Dianthus carthusianorum and Verbena bonariensis (with bee)

 Dianthus carthusianorum and Verbena bonariensis (with bee)


We’re continuing to make good use of the excellent compost bins we constructed, and we will be thinking about how best to manage them while maximising their value to wildlife. Compost heaps are particularly important for reptiles such as Grass Snakes which enjoy the warmth when incubating their eggs. It’s key to have such a good mix of nitrogen-heavy (‘wet’) and carbon-heavy (‘dry’) material that turning the heap isn’t so necessary.


One of our 'home made' compost bins

One of our 'home made' compost bins


If you’ve not yet found time to come to the garden, or even if you have, do come along to Feed the Birds Day on Sunday the 30th October, 11-2:30. It will be a great chance to see the garden, and to learn about helping your garden birds through the winter. 

I'd like to leave you with a picture and a challenge: below is a photograph of a nicely colour-coded hoverfly, resting on one of the last few Sisyrinchium flowers, can anyone identify the species?! Answers via the comments system please!


hoverfly, resting on one of the last few Sisyrinchium flowers