Water ButtsSeptember-December 2017

I have had a very successful few months in the garden but the nights are now drawing in. Some of the plants in the front border were losing their vitality, so I decided to plant a Heuchera Georgia Plum to add some vibrant red colour. In the back border next to the honeysuckle there was a gap, so I added a Salvia Sylvestrix (Merleau Blue), which is a perennial from the sage family, and this will attract hoverflies and bumblebees next spring. I have also added a perennial called Calluna Amethyst (heather), which will flower to late autumn, and provides nectar for honeybees, bumblebees and moths. In my wildflower border (which was also looking a bit tired as most of the plants had finished flowering), I planted some Allium bulbs which will appear next spring. These perennial flowers are from the chive family, have large purple flowers and are loved by bumblebees. I also sowed two more packets of Grow Wild seeds (wildflower mix).

As my vegetable patch had needed a lot of watering over the summer, I decided it was time I bought a water butt, in order to conserve water and be more environmentally friendly. I bought a 200 litre one, and had it installed in October. I chose the part of the roof with the most run off, and the next day we had so much torrential rain that the water butt was filled to the top! I went back to the Garden Centre and bought a second water butt and a feeder tube. I placed this next to the first one, so the water can overflow into that water butt, instead of going down the drainpipe.

Once my sweet peas had finished flowering, there was a gap next to the buddleia, so I decided to make that border full of plants designed to attract butterflies and bees in the hope that it would be full of life in spring. I bought a Sedum (iceplant), a perennial which flowers between July and November and attracts butterflies, bumblebees and honeybees. Next to it I planted a Hebe (hedge veronica), which is an evergreen shrub attracting bees. This was planted next to a Deutzia, a shrub with pretty pale pink flowers which attracts bees.

In my front garden, I planted a companion apple tree. Half of this will bear Katy apples, and the other half will bear Braeburn. One half of the tree will pollinate the other half – a clever idea when you do not have room for two apple trees in your garden. Apple blossom is beneficial as it offers nectar to bees in spring, the leaves provide homes for caterpillars, and the bark is a haven for lichens.

At the bottom of the garden, I had a 6.5ft x 6.5ft patio which I had not used since I moved into the house. I decided it was redundant space, so I took up the patio slabs in order to turn it into a fruit patch. In early November, I dug the soil over, added some manure and compost and left it to settle for a few weeks before adding my new fruit trees and bushes. In December, I planted five bare rooted raspberry canes and a gooseberry bush. I also purchased two rhubarb crowns which will be planted out in the spring.

I found a dead European hornet floating in my water butt. I figured it was a sign that I must be attracting more insects into my garden. I looked up why it might have died, and found out that European hornet workers and the original queen die off in the autumn and only the new queen hibernates, so this is normal. I had never seen one before and was shocked how large it was – two inches long! I also found an Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillar measuring 8cm long inside my compost bin resting on some corrugated cardboard. It seemed like it was overwintering there, surrounded by vegetable and garden waste.


European Hornet. Image source: Judy Gallagher via Wikimedia Commons
Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillar
Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillar. Image source: By Syrio via Wikimedia Commons


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