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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Poppies taking over the veg patch, our few veggies this year and some dragonflies

Lots more damselflies have appeared around the pond and from some zoomed in photos I've identified White Legged and Azure damselflies, as well as the Blue-tailed which has been around all month. Have also seen a Brilliant Emerald dragonfly which perched nicely for me, despite my reading that they rarely perch! Also seen a Clubtail, plus there is the usual big green one who refuses to ever perch, and I've seen one Broad Bodied Chaser. At least they make up for the lack of variety with the butterflies in my garden, although I've started seeing some Skippers appearing now along with Marbled Whites, and Painted Ladies back again. I've just seen a Brimstone this afternoon, which must be a newly emerged second brood one. So maybe things are looking up after all!

Finally, I think I've managed to ID this one as the Western Clubtail (Gomphus pulchellus),
which I think is different from the one in my last post.

More pics that I managed to get this afternoon.

Another view of the Western Clubtail - any experts out there who know better please let me know!

Brilliant Emerald (Somatochlora metallica) dragonfly, male.

Close up of the Brilliant Emerald - apparently my pond with overhanging willows for shade,
and leaf and twig litter on the pond bed and nearby mature trees, is their perfect habitat!

The veg patch has been looking stunning with all the self seeded Oriental Poppies flowering. It's a shame their season is so short lived though. Onto veggies, I couldn't understand why my 'new' potatoes were being so tardy and had only just started flowering, especially as Belle de Fontenay don't normally flower. The mystery was solved when I dug up the first plant and discovered large pinky red spuds that look just like the maincrop Desiree that I normally grow, but chose not to this year. Hmmmm. On closer inspection it seemed that some plants without flowers had different sized and coloured leaves, and digging up one of them revealed my B de Fs (or something similar). How completely bizarre! I bought them from the usual garden centre and I didn't notice anything unusual when putting them to chit in egg boxes. So it seems we will have some maincrops after all!

Something went horribly wrong with my spuds this year!

Our meagre crops this year - 4 whole parsnip plants germinated!
Various lettuce being successionally sown, carrots and some more
coriander has been sown. Courgettes/zucchini out of
the picture are just about ready to have the first ones harvested.

Ladybird pupa which just happens to be on a parsnip leaf!

I should mention that I have a lovely English neighbour who has been around several times and weeded my messy strawberry beds, and is going to tackle the asparagus bed next. I'm glad that she was happy to pick raspberries and blackcurrants for herself, because I hate seeing things going to waste, and it's the least I can do to say thanks!

Opium Poppies (Papaver somniferum).

The Coriander patch gone mad with Opium Poppies
and Borage growing through it -
the pollinators absolutely love all these flowers!

These Opium Poppies come in singles and doubles and all colours of red and mauve.

In the shade under the Greengage tree, with Borage
and Sweet William in the background.

Opium Poppy and a Honey Bee.

Bumble Bees early this morning going crazy for the pollen!
Love the orange pollen baskets.

Poppies going over - still attractive until the seed heads start to dry out.

Wild Poppies and Phacelia self seeded by the compost bins.

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) which has self seeded all over the place,
with a male Thick Legged Flower Beetle (Oedemera nobilis).

Scarily the temps are supposed to rise well into the 30s this week, which is just too hot, and means lots of watering.  I hope I'll feel well enough to help K - I have already done some hosepiping as I can't lift full watering cans yet. He has put shade cloth over the lettuce as my first cos lettuce had already started to bolt and it's such a disappointment waiting three months for your fave crunchy lettuce to heart up, only for them to bolt just as they are ready - or worse, before they even mature!

I meant to add this to my previous post - seen from up the lane
across the maize field, the thickly wooded area
is the end of my woodland garden.

I was missing these guys but was happy to find three final instar Swallowtail
(Papilio machaon) caterpillars in my Bronze Fennel in front of the house.

Bertie takes every opportunity to steal my cushions as soon as I stand up.....

I love you, Mummy.

Cheeky monkey!

Meanwhile Harry finds a cosy shady nest.....

I'll finish with two firsts.....our first courgette/zucchini and the first meal that I have cooked entirely by myself in over four months! This lot was slathered in olive oil, roasted for about 40 mins and then served with lots of cubed feta cheese, which goes so well with roasted Mediterranean veggies. Some baguette to mop up the juices of course (it's always better with juicy home grown tomatoes, but we've got to wait a while for them). Keith was very pleasantly surprised, and I felt so good to have achieved something! And I scoffed my share and could have eaten more..... :-)



  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Ian, I love a riot of colour in summer. :-)

  2. Oh My... So much beauty and so little time

  3. Lovely images - what a beautiful garden

  4. Love the Dragonfly shots Mandy, ooooh first courgettes, that photo has suddenly made me miss them, here in UK mine have just set, so I guess another week yet. No idea what to expect when in France.

    1. Isn't it funny, I'm thinking fondly of courgettes fritters and digging out various recipes, yet we know damn well in a month's time we'll be complaining! I've about 5 more which will be ready in a few days..... Cheers Ian - enjoying watching the odonata by the pond, they seem to have gone crazy with the warmth (numbers of them, mating, ovipositing etc I mean)! :-)

  5. Stunning're back on top form with the camera.

    Enjoy your courgettes while they are a novelty, we and the chickens are already fed up with them! Mind you, a friend made us some courgette, potato and white cheese cakes, crispy fried, today and they were really scrummy.

    1. Thanks Debrazzawoman - I am getting more supple but if I do too much I feel the strain in the rapidly healing up butt area! So trying to take lots if breaks and rests. Can at least get down to dragonfly level sometimes now.

      It feels good to be able to talk about food. There's nothing worse than losing your appetite! I enjoy courgette fritters and now we are having hot weather we are thinking summery food and BBQs. I do know we'll be sick of courgettes soon though. :-)

  6. What a great set of photos Mandy.
    Glad you got the spuds sorted, kind of.
    Some of your hot weather has reached us now 29 Celsius today and forecasted 35 tomorrow. Problem is our climate is too humid. Thoroughly unpleasant.
    Congrats on the meal, it does like nice.
    Now Madam, about these poppies, I must Caution You........You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence. etc etc.{:))

    1. Thanks very much Roy. I may have to refer back to the photo here to work out which spuds are which! It was 33ish today which is way too hot for my liking, having to water like crazy now and the pump has just burnt out, so much for using my 4000 litre ex septic tank water! As for the poppies..... well actually I've got loads of unused morphine here which I ought to take back to the pharmacy, so I don't need the poppies! ;-)

  7. Your photos of the dragonflies and poppies are wonderful, I looks like it has been a good year for poppies all over..Hot again and us British folk have some moaning to do about how hot it is and we can't sleep... I could go on...
    Amanda xx

    1. I know the feeling, I hate heat - we all want summer but there's a limit to how hot! :-)
      Cheers Amanda, I shouldn't complain really cos the dragons and damsels are loving it!

  8. Beautiful photos - wonderful to see so many dragonflies. Still have seen very few round here yet this year. I love the look of the meal you cooked - will make a note as I do a lot of similar meals for the veggies in our family.

    Far too hot for me too :(

    1. Hi RR - yes been too hot for anything much except keeping in the shade in the afternoons, but today is much cooler and pleasant. One thing I've been enjoying is cooking again (and eating!), especially summery foods and BBQs. The courgettes are now producing well so ratatouille tonight! Thanks again. :-)

  9. Wow those poppies look amazing Mandy and I love the dragons of course. Barely seen Odonata around here yet...a couple of darters and a skimmer the other day in the garden. Well done on the lunch too, I like roasted veggies very much! As for the smell of fresh home-grown toms...Mmmmm.....

    1. Hi JJ and thanks! Sadly the poppies have mostly finished now, but at the least the self seeded sunflowers have started flowering, and they'll last much longer. I was going to get some photos as it's overcast this morning but now started to spit with rain!

      Have been seeing lots of blue damselflies around the pond on these hot sunny days. More flutters about too, but I'm not coming across the interesting insects - eggs and caterpillars and stuff, probably cos I'm not doing much gardening! Never mind. :-) Oh and picked first ripe tomato yesterday, not that they are doing very well in pots. Another never mind. :-)

  10. I love your Opium Poppies Mandy, the mauve are gorgeous. I must try and get some for my garden for next year.:-)

    1. Hi Deb, I have tons of seed so if you email me your address I'll send you some! They are lovely but the season is very short, which is the only sad thing about them. But they are easy enough to pull out when they are over to make room for other plants to fill in the spaces. :-) Great to see you back able to comment and I see you have blogged as well, so I'll be over to check it out soon. xx

    2. Thanks Mandy that's really good of you. It's nice to be able to comment and blog again. It turned out to be our internet connection, so that was a relief as I thought I might need a new laptop.
      Thanks again, i'll drop you an email. ;-)

    3. Much cheaper than having to buy a new laptop! So happy you have that problem sorted. If your winters are relatively mild you can sow some poppy seeds in situ and the little plants will overwinter and give you a head start with the flowers, although a good idea to also sow some in the spring and that will give you a longer season!

  11. Our winter's are mild over here. Thanks Mandy, I've just sent you an email.xx