Small Beauties


Dear Readers, we’re into my ‘busy week’ at work, which means lots of reports have to be written and lots of project managers need to be talked to. Some days I plonk down at 7.30 a.m. and suddenly realise it’s 5.30 p.m. and I’ve only broken for a twenty-minute lunch. So it feels even more important to schedule in a quick walk around the garden, even if it’s only for ten minutes. It’s astonishing what you can find!

For example, I had never really noticed the snakeskin pattern on the fritillary before (even though one of its names is ‘snakeshead fritillary). This was a very fine example, especially against the bright leaves of the mock orange. Let me tell you now that half an hour spent popping in the bulbs in October provides an excess of joy in spring. You can never have too many bulbs!

I’ve grown some very pale blue grape hyacinths this year, but as usual the ‘ordinary’ blue ones seem to be doing best.

Grape hyacinth

The marsh marigolds are just coming into bud, and when did the flag irises start to get so tall?

I pop into the shed to dig out some bird seed (mainly for the squirrel it has to be said, if he gets any chubbier he won’t be able to walk) and I noticed this stunning cobweb behind the door. We have so many spiders that I honestly think the shed will be listed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest soon. This web was probably made by a cellar spider (one of those very skinny chaps who vibrate up and down when disturbed). Strangely enough, these etiolated-looking spiders, who wouldn’t appear to be strong enough to say boo to the proverbial waterfowl, are themselves spider-killers, finishing off all manner of other species.

And finally, the flowering currant is still going strong, and is now attracting female hairy-footed flower bees. These are tricky to photograph, being fast and flighty, but I did manage to one satisfactory photo. If you look closely you can see the ‘hairy’ ginger legs, used as a pollen basket by the female.

And finally, I was sitting back at my desk, just about to tackle my most imposing project, when there was a fluttering outside and this butterfly landed on the windowsill. This is a female small white (Pieris rapae), described in my Garden Wildlife book as being often the first butterfly of the year to emerge from its chrysalis. No doubt she will be off to find a) a male and b) a cabbage to lay her eggs on as we speak.

And so, it’s back to work. Roll on Friday!




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