Dear Readers, the denizens of East Finchley have become very adventurous with their tree pits just lately. At first glance, the one above seems to be mainly home to some Mexican Fleabane, but a closer look shows us some tomatoes and some very fine courgettes, with the flowers looking just ready to open.
I must admit that with all the dogs about I might be a little nervous about eating them, but I am still very impressed that someone is managing to grow not only plants but actual food in an area less than a metre square.
Just up the road is another tree pit, this time showing some opium poppies on one side….
…and what I’m fairly convinced is some redshank on the other (this is a form of bistort or Persicaria – it’s in the same family as Japanese knotweed, but is a very inoffensive little plant with none of the bad manners of its relative)
Another tree pit has been lovingly planted up with some begonias – not great for pollinators but very pretty nonetheless.
And sometimes things just plant themselves. In this tree pit we have some great willowherb on one side, and one of the smaller willowherbs (probably square-stalked willowherb) on the other.
But then I have to stop and admire this fantastic stand of lavender, still going strong a good month after mine (on the south-facing side of the street) has gone over. There are a dozen bumblebees on it, and many of them are queens. The one below looks most likely to be buff-tailed bumblebee queen, even though her ‘tail’ looks pretty white – the colour is a bit richer than I’d expect on a white-tailed bumblebee queen, but there is a lot of variability within both species.
No doubt about this one though: this is a red-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius) queen. She was much larger than I’d have expected the very similar red-shanked carder bee (Bombus ruderarius) to be. It’s lovely to see so many harbingers of next year’s bumblebee colonies already on the wing – although it’s only August many of this year’s colonies have already broken up, and the new queens are feeding up to put on weight for their hibernation.
And finally, as I was about to walk back through the front door I was interrupted by an enormous emperor dragonfly, easily the size of my finger. I didn’t manage to capture it on camera, as it was zooming about, possibly trying to hunt the butterflies and bees on my buddleia. I have been visited by one before, though, and you can read all about it here. To see a creature like this really is an event worth celebrating.