Wildlife in our Gardens; Favourite Plants; April Garden Scenes

Greetings to all Cothi Gardeners, and other readers. Here’s a news post with various snippets which might be of interest. Many thanks to all who’ve sent words or photos to either myself or Elena. Do keep them coming…

Carys Williams contacted me with the following information, from WWBIC :

We are your Local Environmental Record Centre (LERC) for West Wales. We would like to encourage people to engage with nature by recording plants and wildlife on your doorstep.

During the CORVID-19 outbreak, the public are urged to work from home and practice social distancing. We think this is a good time to learn more about wildlife in your garden, if it is safe to do so.

The Common or Garden Project is a simple way of recording 6 priority species for beginners. (Hare, Common Toad, Hedgehog, Bullfinch, Blood Vein Moth, and Slow Worm).  We have chosen these six species which are included in the Section 7 list the Environment (Wales) Act 2016.   This is a list of the living organisms that are of key significance to sustain and improve biodiversity in Wales. We need to know more about these species, can you help? For more information click on the link below.

Common or Garden Poster_english

Thank you, and happy wildlife recording!

Carys Williams

Biodiversity Information Assistant

West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre (WWBIC)

Tel. 01994 241468 www.wwbic.org.uk


Many thanks to Brenda for the photo of this gorgeous clump of Ipheion uniflorum ‘Charlotte Bishop’ – An easily grown spring flower related to the onion family the foliage of which dies back during the summer. Growing amidst what looks like a wonderful clump of Snakeshead fritillaries.

And to Elena for these photos and words about her friend Susan’s amazing garden in distant Trinidad & Tobago, which has a wonderfully exotic and lush feel:

All over the world gardeners in lockdown are turning to their gardens for stress relief during these difficult times. My friend Susan in Trinidad, who I have known since primary school, sent these photos of her small urban garden. What a great use of foliage pot plants! I am sure many of you will recognise the Australian red palms, colourful crotons and bromeliads, bamboo, ferns and the orchids hanging from a tree branch. Lovely … thanks for sharing Susan!!

And back home thanks to Ruth for sending a photo of her productive polytunnel which is providing lots of fresh vegetables for the table during these tricky times, Ruth says :

This is my polytunnel with the brassicas I have been growing over the winter, plus leeks, purple sprouting broccoli, curly kale, cavolo Nero kale and chard. We are enjoying eating them now. If I try and grow them in the summer the caterpillars demolish them!

I’m guessing we’ll all be focusing more on productive plantings this year.

A couple of favourite flowers right now from the garden here at Gelli Uchaf: Scilla Bithynica, the Turkish Squill, shown below, and in more detail in the video clip later. It’s a stunning small blue bulb which flowers for a very long time. We bought a couple from Shipton bulbs several years back, and it spread so well from seed that it’s gradually making a nice carpet of blue, a good 6 weeks ahead of native bluebells.

and Narcissus pseudonarcissus, the Lenten Lily :  One of our native daffodil species, which is short and early, and always pale and dark yellow, but quite variable in form. It takes a few years for the snowdrop sized bulbs to settle in, but it’s then really reliable here, and produces quite a bit of seed unlike most daffodils, so can be spread around for those patient gardeners amongst us …

___________________________

The last 10 days of sunny weather have been a fantastic time for early insect activity in our garden, and a great opportunity for seeing just which flowers are favoured by some of our commoner insects.

Day after day of unbroken sunshine, even if the wind’s been nippy, or downright bone chilling – particularly first thing, when I’m out in my nightshirt and long johns. But I hope you enjoy the merged video clips from our garden 800 feet above sea level, in often really chilly and windy conditions

It’s such a thrill to find that after so many years of deliberately selecting and planting more and more insect friendly flowers here, it’s now (relatively!) easy to film such pieces – so many insects find our garden an oasis of provision this early in the year.

Images that reinforce the message that although we all love our flowers, millions of years of evolution have really developed them for their nutritional value to our insect fauna.  And anyone with bumblebee queens a plenty in their gardens in March will probably be familiar with the distinct impression that when walking round your garden, surveying the scene, one or two of these incredibly tough, and large insects will meet you, and if not exactly greet you, then certainly check you out.

Carefully. Circling you three or four times, before heading off on more urgent duties. Just to let you ponder whether it’s them invading your personal space, certainly far too close for safe social distancing.

Or vice versa.

Does everyone else find they get”buzzed” by bumbles?

And has anyone any idea why they do this?

You’ll see in the video clip below, in this order, these wonderful symbiotic insect flower pairings, and see how much busy work is still going on outside, Covid-19 restrictions notwithstanding, in the natural world.

And for any unfamiliar with the wonderfully adapted vegetarian adult Bee fly, it has a sinister life cycle – its larvae are carnivorous, preying on bumblebee larvae. No bumbles, no beeflies.

There’s still lots of opportunities to spot these up to the middle of May, when the adults disappear for another year. Primroses, Aubrieta and Pulmonaria all seem favoured plants for them in our garden.

Chionodoxa “Pink Giant” : Honeybee – Apis mellifera

Scilla bithynica : Honeybee – A. m.

Skimmia “Emerald King” : Honeybee – A. m.

Chionodoxa forbesii blue : Honeybee – A. m.

Primula vulgaris – primrose : Peacock butterfly – Inachis io

Muscari armeniacum: Honeybee – A.m.

Aubrieta : Dark-edged Beefly – Bombylius major

Muscari neglectum : Small Tortoiseshell butterfly – Aglais urticae

Primula vulgaris – primrose : Bumblebee queen – Bombus terrestris

Primula vulgaris – primrose: Dark-edged beefly – Bombylius major

Pieris “Forest Flame” : Bumblebee queen – Bombus leucorum

Narcissus “Brunswick” : Peacock butterfly -Inachis io


It would be lovely to hear from any members about their favourite plants, or things in their gardens as we go through the next few months. Why not write a few words and send an image or two, preferably resized down to less than 1 MB? I can’t promise to put everything up online immediately, but usually within a fortnight, and it’ll be a great way of keeping in touch, and passing on information.

Or use the Cothigardeners Facebook Page.

You can send things to me at:

Cothigardeners@gmail.com

One thought on “Wildlife in our Gardens; Favourite Plants; April Garden Scenes

  1. Thanks Julian, good post 😊

    From: Cothi Gardeners
    Reply to: Cothi Gardeners
    Date: Thursday, 2 April 2020 at 07:58
    To: “elenamgilliatt@hotmail.com”
    Subject: [New post] Wildlife in our Gardens; Favourite Plants; April Garden Scenes

    cothigardeners posted: “Greetings to all Cothi Gardeners, and other readers. Here’s a news post with various snippets which might be of interest. Many thanks to all who’ve sent words or photos to either myself or Elena. Do keep them coming… Carys Williams contacted me with “

    Like

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