Friday, 17 October 2008

Strange fungus

The delights of Autumn

Come in the form of light that is the same colour as the leaves still on trees. Golden!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Euonymus europaeus (the Common Spindle) is in full glory. The buds look like a cardinal's cap, which is what they are called in Dutch, are just bursting open and showing the berries. And to match the display the leaveas have turned a beautiful bright red. Autumn truly is a magnificent season!

Beauty behind bars

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Hypnotic Helianthus


Cycling along the Rhine in Oosterbeek, a town adjacent to Arnhem I came across a field of glory. Last year that same field was full of wildflowers and butterflies, this year they'd planted sunflowers. Instant sunshine which made me smile. Well done Oosterbeek!

Something erotic

All plants are about sex in some manner or other, however some plants ooze a sexyness by their very shape, form or colour or a combination of these. To me this plant is a real sex-pot, Impatiens glandulifera. Reuzenbalsemien is what it's called in Dutch (Giant balsam) belongs to the same family as the Busy Lizzy. Introduced in the Netherlands in 1915 from Tibet and the Himalayas it has gone wild. Bees certainly love the flowers that are different shades of pink. I love how the flowers resemble an insect, a bit like a bee in fact with that big bum and stinger at the back and the winglike petals. Once ripe the seed pods erupt when touched and spray their seeds meters away. Sexy!

Saturday, 16 August 2008


I enjoy having a garden even if that sometimes means I have to go to work to take care of it. It pleases me to see the plants I have growing there, the many flowers and how plants and flowers develop during their sometimes all too brief season.
I enjoy having a garden where lots of different bees and (hover)flies come to pollinate the flowers. Big bees, bumble bees, furry, striped, buzzing, hanging upside down to get at the sweet nectar.
I enjoy having a garden even if that means some plants get the occasional nibble by snails and slugs. I don't mind squishing them between my fingers or crushing them under my shoes.

I first noticed this fellow when I was watering the plants

However I do have a problem with the horde of caterpillars that has made it's home in my Heuchera. If they'd stick to just one plant I'd be a lot happier but of course they don't. It's not like I mind losing a plant. I can easily take cuttings and propegate them and I did so with this Purple Palace variety earlier this year. The plant is sturdy and I know it will survive the assault and grow new leaves again soon.

But caterpillars being what they are tend to find other plants to feed on and now they are on the move. They've started on the Rudbackia's in the large post next to the Heuchera and luckily there the damage is minor (they find the flowers to be more to their liking).

eggs and the pupae of the female moth

The Oakleaf-Hydrangea's next to the Rudbeckias are fine and so are the Skimmia but next to the pots of Hydrangeas is more Heuchera. Heuchera 'Caramel' which has as the name suggests is that lovely creamy, burnt sugar colour. A colour that goes so well with the dead grass look of the Carex buchannii.

So why don't I kill them? Or get rid of them in another way? Well, and this is the bit where I grow a bit soft centered. Caterpillars will become butterflies and I want more butterflies in the garden, even if the are actually a type of day-moth. Ultimately these wonderfully exotic looking destructors will turn into Orgyia antiqua (Witvlakvlinders in Dutch).

This plant has been stripped bare

The Rusty Tussock Moth or Orgyia antiqua only live to flutter about for a short period before mating and producing the next brood. Strangely enough the female of the species is home bound that has no wings and cannot fly at all. After hatching from the cocoon she stays where she is emitting her feromones to attract the male who has these wonderful antlers that help him find his mate.

It's my own fault in a way I guess. A while back one of them flew into the office and just before I went home I chased him outside. As he flew into the plants I actually told him to 'go forth and multiply' not even stopping to think what the consequences would be. Do I regret it? In all honesty not really. I'll let the caterpillars pupate and check the leaves after the metamorphosis and their breeding to check for eggs. When I find them I'll try to find another garden for them to call home. Hopefully that home won't be my garden. After all it is a nice neighbourhood.