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Monday, 15 October 2012

My 'Wildflowers for Pollinators' meadow - October update

I wrote a posting about this back in August with my findings and conclusions. I feel I may have been a bit hasty with regards to one particular plant which up until late summer didn't seem to have many insects interested in it at all. Those were the tall orange French marigolds which were a part of the seed mix. However since late summer, and particularly this last six weeks or so, this plant has been the star of the show, not just for aesthetic reasons but because suddenly all the pollinators have gone crazy over it!

Orange Marigold

I'd also mentioned that very few butterflies seemed interested in this meadow. That also changed since September, and whilst I've only taken one photo of a butterfly in the meadow, there were plenty more interested (I have hundreds of butterfly photos taken all over the garden so that's why I haven't any more in this little meadow).

Here are some photos taken a week or so back. Since it rained many of the plants have had a new lease of life, and although they still look rather tatty, they have managed to produce new flowers here and there, such as the blue cornflowers, viper's bugloss, phacelia and the various cosmos and corn marigolds.

The marigolds on the other hand have never once looked scruffy and are still a blaze of orange colour, really brightening up the veg patch as nearly all the marigolds seem to be up one end of this patch, which is total coincidence.

Orange Marigolds swamping the strawberry plants!

The less sunny side. I have now weeded and pulled up the beetroot
that you can barely see here!

The tall pink and white cosmos have continued to flower but they
were later flowering than some of the other flowers.
Birds love their seed heads.

Phacelia is already self seeding all around,
but that's fine as it is grown as a
green manure anyway

So here is a selection of insects taken in the meadow over the last month, starting from yesterday and going back to mid September. I was still photographing bees and hoverflies in it yesterday, despite the fact that the temps have dropped from warm and wet with temps of about 20/21C to extremely chilly daytime highs of about 13/14C, even with sunshine! Brrrrrrrr!

A new hoverfly that I haven't seen before, taken yesterday.
I think it is one of the Eristalis genus but can't find one just like this.

Obviously other flowers are still attracting pollinators like this Eristalis (a different one)
on a Corn Marigold, and what I think is a plant bug of the family Miridae.

Bicoloured Cosmos with a little bee (not entirely sure!) on it.

I didn't get a really clear shot of this cute little bee, but inside a pink Cosmos
the light reflected and in all the shots I took it appeared to have purple eyes!

Here it is again on a Marigold. No purple eyes this time!
I believe it is a Colletes which are known as Plasterer Bees.

There have been cute fluffy bees on the marigolds every day.

More orange, but this time it's an Orange Cosmos
with a Ladybird hiding under the petals

Yet another Eristalis, on a Corn Marigold

Finally, the only butterfly which I did actually take on the Marigolds.
A Peacock (Inachis io).

I have made a decision about this patch. I'm leaving it in situ for next year, as the seed mix contains biennial and perennial plants too, and I'm interested in what they may be. I'm sure I'll have to do some serious weeding here as I know these annuals will want to germinate and take over, but they can grow elsewhere as I want to know what else is growing here, and give them space! I don't need this patch as this would be my bean and pea bed next year, and I have other plans for next spring, so won't be growing any of these veg, other than some French beans (haricot vert) which can be sown later on.

Ignoring the obvious Dandelion, up the shadier end where the annuals were less dense,
I see many of the biennials and perennials which were also in this mix of flowers.

So, all in all even more of a success than I had originally thought! And much as I love veggies, this has proven far more interesting..... :-)


  1. I love the cute fluffy bee on the marigolds Mandy. Brilliant pictures!

    Philippa x

    1. Thanks Philippa! Still tons of butterflies and pollinating insects about at the moment, because until the frosts come there are still lots of flowers :-)