We have had a minor disaster this week in that strong winds (not even a storm, but a gust of strong wind during some heavy rain) felled one of my favourite apple trees. Both in 2017 and in 2018 it was also our most productive tree so a big loss.
Annie Elizabeth apple tree
Here in the west of Ireland we have had a very wet spell with what feels like constant rain. So while there are good blackberries and autumn raspberries, many are going rotten because of the rain.
We have a reasonable crop of cob nuts, but each year we loose a lot to nut weevil grubs. We wait to see what this year brings.
It’s all a bit negative isn’t it – so here is some positive news. The chicks are growing. They have been moved out to the polytunnel during the day, and are enjoying consuming chickweed which tends to seed itself in the poly and greenhouse!!
While in County Clare I really saw the value of scabious as a pollinator plant. We do have a small patch of wild devils-bit scabious but it is one thing I will try and grow more of next year. I also hope to try out some of the cultivated forms too.
Devils bit scabious with pollnantors
Devils bit scabious with hoverfly
Finally for this weeks six, Osteospermum. In one of my previous gardens, this plant did really well, but it has failed to thrive here in the west. This time I bought a potted plant and just re-potted it in a larger pot. And this is its second flowering. I will over winter in the greenhouse or polytunnel and maybe keep it as a pot plant for next year.
Thank you to The Propagator for hosting Six on Saturday.
Yesterday I was walking what will probably be my last bee and butterfly transect of the year. It has not been a good year for either group. There seems to be much fewer butterflies compared to last year. Still the last couple of days we’ve had lovely autumn sunshine. Much of the transect follows country lanes and the roadside hedgerows are now at their best.
Local hedgerows – note red haws!
In Ireland, hedgerows provide an important habitat, particularly as we don’t have much woodland. Hedgerows should be regularly maintained to keep them in good condition but many of our hedgerows are pretty neglected. Still it does not mean that they are not valuable for wildlife. In fact the opposite is true. Ivy is just coming into flower now. This late flowering plant is very important for feeding all sorts of insects late in the season, and many of the ivy plants were humming, mainly with hoverflies.
At this time of year hedgerows are great for foraging – not just for us but for birds and wild mammals too. The bad summer does seem to be reflected in cropping though. Elderberries aren’t even ripe yet, blackberries are not plentiful and the sloes are small. The rosehips on the other hand seem to have cropped well.
Ash keys appears to be another plant that has cropped well and both old and newer ash trees are dripping with keys.
Haws are turning their vibrant red. They are a really important food source for many of our birds, are seem a particular favourite of blackbirds.