Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Autumn Plants For The Wildlife Garden, Autumn Moths & What The V.E.T Said

It's beautiful here today- bright, warm sun, clear blue skies, birds singing, bees buzzing. You'd be forgiven for thinking it was mid-summer. It was gorgeous all weekend long too. M and I went to the garden centre and splashed out on new plants. Next to fabric shopping it's my favourite kind.

The back garden has been a work in progress for the last two/ three years. I am trying to work with the garden, listening to it, moving plants if they don't seem happy, watching wildlife visits, shifting things around. The aim is to make nectar sources available all year round, as well as cover for breeding and hibernating. We're mainly talking invertebrates here because the birds etc are catered for. At the same time, I'm trying to get interesting colours round the year for us to enjoy as well.

I have experimented, leaving patches to grow wild and seeing what happens. Cutting some things back but not others. Trying one bed for spring bulbs and another for cut flowers. That is the joy of gardening isn't it? Finding out what works and how best to do things.

We are pesticide and nitrogen free here; we don't do lawn treatments which poison everything but the grass, we like to see self-heal and daisies, clovers and speedwells and dandelions growing among the lawn and watching the insects who feed on them; we don't despise weeds or try to shoo out the bees and wasps that make their homes in little cells among the roots in the lawn or the caterpillars who munch on the plants. The garden is Open House to All The Wild Things, and as you'll know if you read the blog regularly, we are blessed with a great many wonderful residents and visitors as a result. Sometimes it's just a question of shifting your perspective a little and learning to see and love the biodiversity that a garden free of chemical treatments brings, in place of the uniformity you get otherwise.

So the new purchases had to fit in with that ethos of the garden being a place for The Wild and also for us. 

I can't resist Caryopteris, and neither can the bees. This is my second one and the bees had found it before it was even planted in the soil. I keep nipping out to check who's on it, and so far there hasn't been a daylight hour when the small buzzy folk haven't been feeding on it. I'd say that was a result.


I've long wanted a Callicarpa. The berries are the most beautiful sheen of lilacy/ purple. Birds and small mammals use them for winter survival and then in the spring it will produce nectar-rich flowers. I can't stop going outside to look at it. My neighbour would think I was completely cuckoo if she wasn't very used to me by now :o)


I've also been after a Snowberry bush, which, like the Callicarpa, provides colour in the form of plump white berries at a time when everything else is beginning to slow down. Birds and small mammals like them, and of course it will also give us flowers and nectar in the spring...


Autumn is the time of berries, and the third shrub we came home with is a Pyrancantha. Bright orange berries beloved of birds that add a welcome splash of richness to the fading border.


We also found a Rubus spectabilis olympic double, also known as Salmonberry. The flowers appear in spring and edible berries are produced in the autumn. It was on the bargain shelf and was reduced to £6. Beside it on the half price shelf were two Philadelphus, a Minnesota and a Virginal. I looked for these plants back in the summer and failed to find any, now I've got two for the grand total of £12. They will be beautiful next summer with their creamy white flowers. The smell of Philadelphus, which is also called Mock Orange, is so heavenly I can foresee myself finding it hard to not just sit beside them sniffing :o)

I sneaked in a couple of smalls to come home with us too... Viola Honeybee...


And a lovely cyclamen... 


So, the season is turning but everyone is happy. Apples continue to fall from the tree. It's become something of a ritual for me to go and collect the windfalls every morning with Poppy and the Red Admirals (sounds like a band)...



Talking of the Admirals, Ragged Robin told me about a brilliant way of encouraging them in to the garden- she places apples on sticks and puts them in the ground, so now we have four all lined up among the new plants...


The moth box was out last night and at long last a Pink-Barred Sallow has appeared...


Along with three Frosted Oranges, of varying size. Two of them played dead for well over fifteen minutes when I moved them...





Also present was a Burnished Brass, whose colours glowed in the early morning light...


I am gearing up for Merveille Du Jour Season. They usually arrive here in mid Oct, so not long to wait. I'd love to see another Clifden Nonpareil too (around the same time of year), but that might be pushing my moth luck too far!

Pop had her V.E.T visit this morning to talk over the funny turns she's been getting from time to time after walks. I deliberately took her straight after our morning walk today, but of course she showed no signs of the problem. I stopped to collect conkers on the way home because they are natural spider-deterrents. I put handfuls in organza bags and hang them in all the rooms :o)



The conclusion from the V.E.T is that it is some plant, pollen or grass-based allergy. I am going to try giving them both evening primrose oil and will get an oatmeal conditioner spray for their coats and we'll see where we get to. She's tickety-boo today anyway....


With a stance like that she could win Crufts, no? :o)

I'll leave you with some eclairs I made over the weekend. So far I have made five batches. I turn my back and they evaporate. I suspect House Elves....


Hope all are well?

CT :o)

46 comments:

  1. Callicarpa is known as the beauty bush. For good reason!

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    1. I've got a feeling I saw it on your blog and that's what kick-started the need for one! x

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  2. Snowberries, I have always wondered what they are, lovely colour, your eclairs look scrummy, I have never attempted Choux pastry before, perhaps I should.

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    1. You should definitely give choux a go- it is really simple to make and even if it deflates a bit after cooking the taste with cream and choc is still fab :o)

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  3. What lovely choices you have made for your garden, those berries are beautiful jewels. We have been having the most beautiful weather here with more forecast for the rest of the week so I'm going out tomorrow to sort my garden out and will definitely be popping some apples onto sticks! Thank you Ragged Robin and CT. What a great picture of Poppy, really showing off her style. Great to hear that she is ok again.

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    1. It was a very berry weekend :o) We didn't have many berry-bearing plants in the garden before so they were long overdue. I think the weather is set to stay fair for the weekend- hooray! Am just off to do some sewing for my niece's 18th birthday pres. Hope all's well with you x

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  4. You have House Elves too!!?? I thought it was just me. Now if only there was something in an organza bag to deter them.....

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    1. I think they are more widespread than is commonly realised.... ;o)

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  5. I hope that the House Elves reward you for the goodies you left out for them and don't turn your milk sour! Here in Wales they are known as the Bwbachod and can be mischievous. Apparently they hate people who are teetotal and even more, hate Ministers of the Church!!

    I hope that Poppy continues well, in which case it may well be a sort of pollen she is reacting to.

    You have chosen some excellent wildlife-friendly bushes and plants. LOVE that purple one!

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    1. Loving the sound of Welsh House Elves :o) My instinct with pop is that it's plant-based. Should ease off over winter if so. Plant buying- sheer indulgence! :o)

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  6. Great plant choices, especially the rescued Philadelphus. I have P. Belle Etoile and when it's in flower I just have to sit close by. Delicious eclairs, I should make some as they used to be one of my favourite things. There are still lots of butterflies around and I've been seeing quite a few Red Admirals lately and this morning I got really close to a dragonfly on the deck. I am enjoying this late September weather, I do hope it lasts a while longer.

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    1. The Red Ads seem to be having a great end of summer run. I saw a Southern Hawker today- flew right past me while I was out running :o)

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  7. Here in Sweden we have quite a lot of Snowberries - they are beautiful:) As children we loved stepping on the berries since they make such a delicious smacking sound when you do...:) If only we could be so easily entertained as adults ha ha:)

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    1. I am so enjoying the new plants- just keep going outside to look at them :o)

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  8. Hey CT,
    I love to hear of gardens that have been gifted back to wildlife. My life is so much richer because of the insects that visit my garden. It started with a few plants and scant knowledge. You don't need much to get started. I'd like some more berry laden plants in the garden, but I am running out of room. As an aside, we have a resident Hummingbird Moth that lives in the fuchsia by the front door. He likes to feed on the valerian that grows out of the walls along our drive. Olly has named him Roger. I think it suits him very well.
    Leanne xx

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    1. You're so right- you learn so much by reading and trying things and then starting again if something doesn't work. I love the evolution and experimentation involved in creating a garden.
      And OH MY GOD you have no idea how jealous I am that you have your very own HBHM RESIDENT!!!! Please get some piccies - I love those little moths. Tell Olly Roger is an excellent choice of name. Can he think of a surname too? The really smart moths have to have two names to stand out from the crowd :o) XX

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  9. Beautiful new plants! I love the calicarpa, would love to see one of those growing here. I am glad that there is nothing horrid wrong with Pops, hope that the new things to try do the trick for her. She looks like a superstar in that photo!! xx

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    1. I keep smiling to myself every time I remember I've got a Callicarpa :o) Looking forward to the flowers next year. Big relief about Pops, fingers crossed re the oils etc xx

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  10. Oh my, those eclairs. I have completely forgotten everything I was going to say about anything else. I am thinking I should make some. I've never tried, but I should, I know I should. (Re-reads post). Callicarpas are stunning aren't they. I can never quite believe that colour is real. They have some at the wildlife and wetlands place we go to. I love to hear about your wildlife friendly garden. I've been enjoying the bees over this spell of good weather. There was a fantastic aster at Slimbridge the other day that was absolutely covered in bees the whole time I was there. I really must find one for the garden and for the plot. I have a feeling it probably flowers for ages as well. The caryopteris sounds fantastic too. Like Leanne though I need to work out where to put things. Poppy does indeed look like a Crufts contender. I hope the oatmeal and Evening Primrose help treat whatever it is that ails her. Off to Google eclair recipes now. CJ xx

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    1. Here's my recipe:

      2.5oz plain flour
      2oz butter
      1 tsp caster sugar
      2 eggs
      5 floz water.

      Melt butter in water in saucepan to boiling point. Off heat shoot the flour and sugar in in one quick go and beat to a smooth ball of paste. Add the eggs and beat to a glossy paste. Run some cold water over the baking tray and tap off excess. Use piping bag to pipe mixture onto tray as required (or use spoon to make prof roles). I bake at 150 until they look cooked and are a dark golden brown colour (15 mins?) maybe 20, can't remember exactly). Remove from oven and pierce with a skewer to let the steam escape and then put on wire rack to cool. Once cool fill with cream and drizzle melted choc or icing over the top. Eat quickly before they all disappear :o) XX

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    2. Thanks CT, I've copied into my Special Notebook. CJ xx

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  11. Wonderful pictures, the burnished brass moth does exactly what it says on the (Brasso) tin

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  12. Beautiful flowering/berry-producing plants! I have a mock orange which dies a little bit more each year (ever since aphids attacked it 2 years ago). I always think I'll chop it right down, but then the spring blossoms FILL the whole yard and I'm captivated again. Pop looks like blue ribbon material to me! My dog suffers pollen allergies every fall and rubs his face and chews his paws until the fur is completely rubbed away. The stuff my vet suggested was non-effective, and so was the Benadryl :( Now I'm curious to know if Pop has the same reactions, and if the primrose oil and oatmeal spray worked. We had to put baby socks taped to my dog's paws to keep him from chewing as he couldn't stand last week from the pain he caused from his chewing. Otherwise we just have to wait for the first killing frost and then he's good.
    Wendy

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    1. I've read lots of accounts about the positive effect of giving dogs certain oils to help with skin reactions. Having done a bit more research I'm going to get mine liquid cod liver oil to put on their food daily and see if it helps. The oatmeal conditions the coat so I might get a shampoo, although I don't like washing them frequently because it removes their natural oils. Poppy nibbles her feet when she's having a reaction but not raw thank goodness. Your poor doggy that sounds awful for him. I would definitively try the oils they help digestion skin coat and joints so all in all good stuff. I've read people find miraculous effects with them xx

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  13. Wonderful photos and so much information.
    I must look up what "conkers" are ?
    Pop looks so fabulous in the photo. Maybe she is grown up and out of the puppy look ? I am not sure what "funny turns" are but I hope she gets better soon.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Conkers are the fruit of the chestnut tree :-). Poppy's been getting these strange reactions to being outside where she sits very still for hours with her tail between her legs looking thoroughly miserable. I call them her funny turns because we've been a bit mystified as to the cause.

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  14. Would love one of those Callicarpa plants - keep your eye on it in a few months as I think the berries are good for attracting Blackcaps :)

    Thanks so much for mention - hope you get plenty of butterfly visits to the apples. The more they rot the better!

    Lovely selection of moths - I haven't put my trap out for a few weeks. Will try tonight and see what I get. Hopefully the LYU's are diminishing a bit now!

    Hope Poppy stops getting the reactions soon.

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    1. We get Blackcaps here in the hedge mostly so I will watch the callicarpa for them- thank you for the tip. LYUs definitely declining here now- several lunar uws this year which I think are rather lovely. Will be putting mine out again Thurs night x

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  15. Oh how I wish I had you for a neighbour.. mine do nothing in their gardens apart from cut the grass occasionally.. our garden is a little oasis for the wildlife amongst.. well nothing!

    I love your choices for your garden.. I may just have to find room here for a couple or 4 ;o)

    Those pesky house elves.. eating all your eclairs.. wonder if I can bribe them to bring a few here :o) xx

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    1. That must be exasperating, especially when your patch is such a fantastic advertisement of possibilities x

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  16. DDT or don't do that...I think you are correct in looking at an allergy I am sure that is the case. Age may cure the problem, I grew out of some strange ones, if not age then I suggest scotch, it worked for me. Lovely post as always. Enjoy the lovely weather, I am trying to go fishing and need rain and lots of it!

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    1. Not sure Poppy would appreciate Scotch :o) Rain due next week...

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  17. Poor Pop I do hope you can find out what is ailing her. Sarah x

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    1. It'll be interesting to see if it happens over the winter. So far this week no problems x

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  18. Those blasted House Elves...we have them too. Flit across the world..worked out time difference...maximum benefit of all sweet goodies.
    Okay its me...I love and I mean love Chocolate Eclairs...so much so I'm thinking of moving in with you!!!!!!
    My lovely grandmother (whom I have mentioned previously) used to leave Chocolate Brownies in her pantry...I kept watch while my sister instigated a rather daring mission to steal (though we didn't use such an ugly word) them and hide them for a midnight feast.
    Who am I kidding they didn't last THAT long!!!

    Crufts champion for sure...what a poser....but worthy of the top prize and rosette!! Impressive.

    Garden centres and plants is one of my lovely weekend weaknesses. I have just re done the kids cubby house and turned it into a girl retreat...re done the garden and spent way over the top on plants...I wanted that TV 'full' look to the garden. None of this waiting for things to get bigger and expand into the empty spaces. Though here in Victoria, plants grow like the bean stalk....over night and huge!!!!
    If I could post a picture with this... I would include one to show off the end result.

    Your plants look so gorgeous....colours and textures..just divine.

    Could you post a view of your garden...me thinks it would be rather special.

    Love your posts.

    Love from Down Under xxx

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    1. Have you made some eclairs yet?? The recipe is above in my reply to CJ if you's like it :o) Yes, plant buying, v easy to spend a small fortune but then the lasting effect in the garden is worth every penny. Ours is split into different sections, veggy patches, front drive and banks, wildflowers, patio with pots, two ponds and then the back garden.. it is quite a lot of work but I do love it and M is also green fingered too xx

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    2. No haven't made eclairs ... I'm really trying to lose a few kilos ... I will save the recipe and make as a treat when my goal loss hits the desired number on the scales! Thank you!
      Your garden is very much the right blend! My dear grandmother had that sort of lay out!
      My husband runs his own landscaping, gardening and mowing business so we are both v keen! I do accounts and admin these days from my little empire in the study! But I also have a small hobby business collecting pre loved furniture and vintage home wares for my business! It's a real passion!
      Sanding, painting and washing and putting pretty tags on things is almost a midnight occupation!
      Loving your blog! Xx

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  19. I've just done similar with conkers yesterday - I put a couple in the corner of each windowsill indoors. It does seem to work a bit in terms of deterring cobwebs although I found a tiny jumping spider sitting on one undeterred!

    I'm hoping to see more of these autumn moths but with the chilly nights due to sunny days there are very few moths flying, although I've caught a Centre Barred Sallow three times now.

    You can't beat a bit of plant retail therapy! xx

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    1. They aren't working AT ALL here :o( We've had more spiders in the house since they went out than before! Perhaps I need to split them open and release the chemical? x

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  20. I completely agree about plant and fabric shopping, and wool too of course, and books. Basically just not clothes and anything in a supermarket! I didn't know that about conkers and spiders and as we have loads of both I am off out to gather some conkers and have a go. One of the things about living in an old house like ours is that we breed spiders by the bucketful! Good job I don't mind them but we have visitors who do!

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    1. We seem to be getting a lot of enormous spiders inside this autumn. The conkers haven't helped much so far! x

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  21. Dropping in by way of Sue in Suffolk's blog. Your photography is delightful. I am now encouraged to find out more about moths as I have spotted several in the garden this summer. Conkers really do seem to work, don't they? I shall make mine more attractive next year with the addition of those little organza bags.

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    1. HI Deborah and thank you for the comment. I would have said yes about the conkers, except I've found three huge spiders sitting right next to them this week! Worth a try though :o)

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  22. I'll have to keep an eye out for those plants - I'm very slowly turning part of my allotment into a wildlife haven.

    Thanks for the comment on my blog by the way :)

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    1. Hi Sara and thanks for the comment. I've just been looking at your allotment photos- fantastic job, well done!

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x