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'
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.
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)
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
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!