Monday, 29 July 2013

Butterfly and moth time

It seems that it is now high summer and it is butterfly and moth time.  This past weekend has seen a plethora of butterflies in our back garden.  At one point looking out of the back door I counted eight large white butterflies dancing around the lavender bushes and a small blue butterfly floated past.  On Saturday afternoon we found a dead moth in a paddling pool at my sister's house.  It was an utterly beautiful red and black one and we wondered at the time what kind it was but then moved on to something else. 

Yesterday we were trying to clear the overgrown mess that is our garden,  Sitting down on our new table and chairs, we looked at the work still to do.  I noticed that there was a small patch of ragwort in a corner, which probably needed taking out and clearing.  Looking more closely there were at least twenty or so yellow and black striped caterpillars covering the whole plant, eating everything in their path.  We will leave them and their ragwort alone for the time being until they have all left (or eaten the whole plant!)

A close up of our cinnabar caterpillars taken by Mr C

Looking them up we found that these were the caterpillars for the Cinnabar Moth.  In a strange coincidence the moth we found in the paddling pool was a cinnabar moth.  Interesting the cinnabar moth caterpillars only eat ragwort, a plant that is poisonous to most other animals (it is often something that farmers are particularly concerned about their animals eating).  The bright colours of both the caterpillar and the moth itself are a warning to predators.  This is needed especially as the cinnabar moth flies during the day time, unlike most other moths.

 Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued,
is always just beyond your grasp, 
 but which, if you will sit down quietly, 
may alight upon you.  
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Live in each season as it passes..

Although we try to live seasonally as much as possible, when the seasons bring difficult or overwhelming weather it can be difficult to appreciate it.   Henry David Thoreau once wrote 'Live in each season as it passes: breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit.'   I love this quote, it sums up so much about how we want to live.  It also made me a feel a little guilty for being such a grump about this current heat wave.

Last summer was marked by rain, constantly falling upon our heads and stopping many fruits from developing properly.  Everything in the garden seemed to rot or fail to thrive.  This year Spring took a long time coming, but when it did, the garden exploded in a riot of colour and energy.  The last couple of weeks has seen temperatures of the high 20s and low 30s every single day.  It has been difficult for me to enjoy I must say, never feeling any breeze, always trying to cool down, being attacked by mosquitoes.  I agree wholeheartedly with Jane Austen when she wrote "What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance."

I am trying to take Thoreau's attitude more to heart - yes the heat is a bit much and we are having to water some plants daily at the moment, but we have picked an excellent crop of raspberries this year, the apples on our little apple tree are looking fabulous and our courgette plants (especially the ones sat on the bathroom roof) are flowering madly.  

Of course the lawn is looking yellow and crispy and quite ugly at the moment. 

However on a positive side, we now have a lovely table and chair set in the garden!

I hope you are all keeping cool - I think this hot weather has come over from the USA where it was even hotter and more unbearable.

"In lang, lang days o' simmer,
When the clear and cloudless sky
Refuses ae weep drap o' rain
To Nature parched and dry,
The genial night, wi' balmy breath,
Gars verdue, spring anew,
An' ilka blade o' grass
Keps its ain drap o' dew."
-  James Ballantine   

Monday, 8 July 2013

Cole Porter had it right....

If any song could sum up how I feel about a summer's day when its almost 30 degrees, it would be this one.....  Cue Miss Ann Miller:-

The old songs are the best I've always said, but especially Mr Cole Porter when he wrote this one.  Ideally on a day like today we would be sat under a large tree with a slight breeze keeping us sane and a lot of cool drinks available.  But I'm at work.  And it is Too Darn Hot!