News – Page 2

by

Jean Powley

The Quiet Month of August

Small Tortoiseshell

Photo by Jean Powley

Red Tailed Bumble Bee

Photo by Jean Powley

Over the last couple of weeks I have recorded more butterflies and bees in my garden than birds. If you read my previous article in August, I gave the reasons why birds were conspicuous by their absence at this time of year. If you don’t have many birds in your garden, and assuming you have the right sort of flowers, you should have lots of butterflies, hoverflies and bees to admire instead.

So far this year the butterflies I have recorded in my garden are Peacock, Red Admiral, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Holly Blue, Gatekeeper and of course the ‘cabbage whites.’ There are actually three of the so-called ‘cabbage whites.’  These are the Large White, the Small White and the Green-veined White. All of these beautiful insects have really enjoyed the nectar from my two Buddleias which have run riot this year. As each flower head dies, I cut it off in order to encourage a second flush which the butterflies will be thankful for.

Another plant in my garden which attracts a lot of attention is the Globe Thistle Echinops ritro but it is not butterflies which are attracted to it. The flowers of this plant are covered with Bumblebees. There are 24 species of Bumblebees in Britain and the most common ones to be found in gardens are the Buff-tailed Bombus terrestris, Red-tailed Bombus lapidarius, and White-tailed Bumblebees Bombus lucorum.

Over the last two decades, there has been a new Bumblebee in Britain and that is the Tree Bumblebee Bombus hypnorum. This species is normally found on mainland Europe and parts of Asia but in 2001 the first one was spotted in Wiltshire and since then they have spread quite rapidly across the country. You will recognise them by their ginger or reddish-brown thorax, black abdomen and white tail. You may be more familiar with them as they readily take to nesting in bird boxes. I have observed them in my garden and one year, I did indeed have them nesting in one of my bird boxes. You will often see lots of bees buzzing around the nest. These are males waiting for the virgin queens to come out so they can mate with them. They are normally quite harmless as long as you don’t disturb the nest. If they do occupy any of your nest boxes, leave well alone unless they are really making a nuisance of themselves. Another good reason to leave them in a nest box is because they are very effective pollinators which is something we must encourage these days. Eventually they will leave the nest box or just die.

Another interesting bee I have come across in my garden is the Red mason bee Osmia bicornis. One warm day while enjoying a coffee on the patio, I noticed a bee crawling in to a gap in the mortar. I watched it intently as it flew in and out. By the next day, the small hole had been sealed up.  Inside this hole would be eggs that the female had laid. She would then have blocked the entrance so that the eggs wouldn’t be predated. These eggs will develop in to larvae and to ensure their survival, the female will have left them some pollen and nectar to feed upon. Eventually they will pupate and emerge as adults in the springtime and the whole process starts again.

If you would like more information about bumblebees, I suggest you visit www.bumblebeeconservation.org where you can also download an identification chart. Once you have got to know your bees you can also record them in the BTO Garden BirdWatch scheme.

Jean Powley

BTO Garden BirdWatch is a weekly survey that has been running since 1995. The survey which is free and open to all generates valuable information on the use that birds and other   wildlife makes of gardens. The information is then used by the BTO researchers to understand the importance of gardens and other resources, like supplementary food that we provide. I am one of the many volunteers or ‘citizen scientists’ who help the BTO and am the Ambassador for the scheme in Nottinghamshire.

If you are interested in joining the scheme, visit www.bto.org/join-gbw

Peacock on Buddleis

Photo by Jean Powley

Green Veined White

Photo by Jean Powley

Buff-tailed Bee on Cosmos

Photo by Jean Powley

Asters an Picton Gardens
Photo by kind permission of Old Court Nurseries

website: www.woodboroughhortsoc.org.uk

Woodborough Horticultural Society

Autumn Show

Village Hall
Woodborough

Saturday 4th September 2021
2.00 – 4.00pm

Hurray, we are almost back to normal and the good news is that we will be holding our Autumn Show at the Village Hall on Saturday 4th September. So, do put this date in your diary.

You will notice a few changes to the Show in order to avoid the spread of Covid. There will be someone at the door to welcome you and explain the procedures. We regret that there will be no refreshments served at the Show this year. 

If you would like to exhibit any vegetables, fruit and flowers, please bring your exhibits along between 7.30 am to 9.30 am on the day. There will also be the usual classes for cookery, handicraft, children’s and photographs. The subject of the latter is ‘One of my favourite plants.’ The photo must be unframed and not mounted. Limit to size 7” x 5” The photo may have been taken anywhere.

The Show entry form and schedule may be downloaded from HERE and HERE.

Flower of the month

Aster or Michaelmas Daisy

The Aster is also known as the Michaelmas daisy because it flowers around Michaelmas Day (the feast day of St. Michael, the Archangel) which is on 29th September. Asters are a genus of perennial flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. Recently, the North American species have been re=classified as Symphytitrichums  but they are still referred to as Asters or Michaelmas daisies.

At this time of year when most of our summer plants have died off and the borders look tired and dull, Asters together with Rudbekias and Echinaceas brighten up the garden. They come in a variety of colours from white, through to pink, purples and reds. They are certainly an asset to the autumn garden and will flower until the frosts arrive. Furthermore, they are good flowers for pollinating insects.  

There are four commonly grown species of asters in the UK.

  1. Aster amellus or European Aster
  2. Aster x frikartii A hybrid of Aster amellus and Aster Thomsonii and created by a Swiss plant breeder. You may have heard of Monch which is the most popular cultivar.
  3. Symphytitrichum novae angliae or New England Aster.
  4. Symphytitrichum novi belgii or New York Aster.

Asters like a sunny sheltered spot and should be planted in moist, well-drained soil. If you have heavy soil or clay, put some grit in the planting hole to assist with drainage. Asters do not like sitting in wet soil. Space them well apart and not too close to each other as this will lead to a lack of air circulation which could cause mildew. After flowering is over cut the plant to the ground or you can leave them for overwintering wildlife. Asters can also be grown successfully in containers.

The National Collection of Asters is at Picton Garden, Colwall, Herefordshire which nestles under the Malvern Hills (See photo). They are well worth a visit if you are in that area during the autumn months. However, you may visit their website and look through their wonderful gallery at www.autumnasters.co.uk  

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With a hope of better times to come, we have set out the following programme. All of these events are subject to Government rulings and local conditions at the time. We will obviously inform you of any changes in the future. If you wish to join the Society please visit our Web page for further information. You would be most welcome.

www.woodboroughhortsoc.org.uk

Upcoming Events

September 4th 2021 – 7.30am (for setting up and registering)
2pm-4pm  – The Autumn Show.

October 11th 2021  – 7.30-9.30pm
Speaker – Ian Retson –
The Woodland  Trust

November 8th 2021 – 7.30-9.30pm
AGM followed by Speaker- Jeff Bates. Historic Gardens of Derbyshire.

December 6th 2021 – 7.30-9.30pm
Society Social Evening + buffet.

2022

January 10th 2022-7.30-9.30pm
Speaker- Graham Piearce. 
 The Rose family of  Trees

February 14th 2022 – 7.30-9.30pm
Speaker – Neil Timm – Ferns