Where have all the flowers gone?

gone for hayThe village green was a waving sea of grass last week and then poof! It’s all gone. The Meadow Brown butterflies could be seen flopping disconsolately around in the shortened grass, their habitat somewhat curtailed. Grasshoppers have just started to emerge and zizz, now under somewhat reduced circumstances.

There’s something gorgeously glossy about a meadow at it’s peak, flowering grasses moving sinuously in the breeze. And I do understand that it needs to be cut otherwise it will just become a tussocky sodden mess. Most of the Green has been cut for haylage which is better than merely mowing it which I don’t think is particularly beneficial. I hope that they keep to this sort of regime rather than trying to enforce a prim and proper boring all the time sort of village green.

Marston’s clay land isn’t as floristically diverse as neighbouring Salisbury Plain chalk downland  but nonetheless is home to bugs, butterflies and other scuttlers which in turn provide food for swallows, bats and the local owls. A lot of the grassland around here has been “improved” so the Green offers a more diverse area of grass and flowers. The margin in the picture above contains amongst other things, Geranium pratense, Meadowsweet and Meadow Vetchling.

My parents have just returned from SW France and were bowled over by the flowers in bloom both wild and in gardens. They went particularly WOW! on seeing the roadsides on the way to Minerve awash with wildflowers which they decided to revisit a couple of days later, only to find that the margins had been mown in the interim – no more flowers!

The diversity of butterflies is increasing as summer rolls on, Large Skippers are abroad in the garden and feasting on Meadow Vetchling in field and by way margins and I’ve seen a few Scarlet Tiger moths. A Marbled White butterfly passed through the garden to somewhere more interesting.

Fourteen gardeners and more allotmenteers were brave enough to open their gardens / allotments to public scrutiny in Marston and Worton on Sunday. Thank you! We visited most, and all were clearly loved and tended, nearly everyone had a veg plot of some description tucked somewhere, I was most envious of new potatoes, ripening strawberries and plumptious currants.

And we had rain hurrah! Although it was a bit odd to be confined indoors in the gloom after weeks of sun.

It’s all too late – nearly

Tortoiseshell butterfly on Zinnia

We have had a week that should have happened (at least for some of us) in a more summery timeframe. The light is now low,  it cools fast in the evenings,  the dew is heavy, but for a few hours we can bask in sun and warmth. The farmers are bringing in the last of the harvest as fast as they can having been delayed by the recent wet weather again.

Butterflies have rallied it seems, this week the Tortoiseshells of which there has been a distinct lack,  are now in abundance. A scattering of Red Admirals and Brimstone’s this weekend, Peacocks have gone again. Not so many Whites this year either.

Brimstone butterfly on Buddleia

So what has enjoyed the wet? Bindweed most definitely,  great swathes of it are weighing down hedges at the moment. There seems to be a lot of Impatiens glandulifera (touch me not) around. Great patches of Ragwort have adorned paddocks. In my Ma’s garden Heleniums have grown to epic proportions, the flowerbed is now all topsy turvy heightwise. Later flowering clematis have definitely had a good year.

Maybe some of the tenders like Brugmansia can have a late flower burst before the frosts with this warm spell, although rain is forecast again in the next few days.


Cool air

Maybe I can feel that front moving in tonight,  the rain pushing the air around.  Although it is 20C at 9:00pm it feels grey and cool.

Some interesting plantings on my journey to and fro which I keep meaning to take pictures of but then I pass on by,  soon the floral set pieces will be over.

Thornbury,  a ‘wild’  strip planting near a junction with the A38  that started with Linaria maroccana and cornflower now a mass of scarlet and salmon poppies, a picture. But bit by bit the poppies are keeling over and flopping down. By the pottery an eclectic mix of big gold achillea, salmon gladioli, double helianthus and other things all mixed up,  it shouldn’t work but in its exuberance does.

I used to despise later summer for its browned-out tired ways. But I even appreciate the uncut verge in Yate with the rich brown spent spires of dock thrusting through yellowing grass, punctuated by clots of stormy purple vetch.

Also the scent – what is that sweet scent in the air at Weston and Pucklechurch –  a very late Lime? I can’t place it.  And a most fabulous hay smell just after Tytherington,  not the smell of cut grass but something very much more luxurious – woodruff/coumarin.

And maybe the Swifts have gone again,  the wild fly pasts of last week appear to have ceased.  And a time for Heron sightings,  last week a gruff sustained graark as one was seen off by buzzards,  and on Sunday 3 in formation did a fly over,  the stiff-necked lead Heron graarking.

Who is pecking the Texas Dawn waterlily?  Last year in its tub trug home the leaves were shredded. It has since been moved and the same thing is happening. The outdoor cam is shedding a little light on birdy comings and goings,  but no real culprit has so far emerged. The cam did reveal the antics of a young pigeon and blackbird both just losing the last baby feathers miss their footing on the trug edge and have to flap across the water to dry land again, indignant but none the worse for wear.

Peacock butterflies seem to have come and gone fast,  2 weeks ago an abundance,  last weekend none,  just a scattering of Red Admirals, Gatekeepers and Commas plus the more robust whites in flight.