October’s harvest

We’re well into October now but the weather so far has been very kind. Lovely sunny days and no wind to speak of. We’ve had the first frosts but its been ideal for long walks and pottering in the garden. My pots of begonias are still flowering well but I’ve replanted the pots that held petunias and nasturtiums – saving the seed pods for next year – with autumn flowering heathers (much appreciated by the bumble bees) to keep some colour going.

Us gardeners are not the only ones taking advantage of the autumnal sunshine with insects and birds making the most of what’s on offer.

Fly sitting on ivy flowers
Hoverfly feeding on ivy flowers

Walking by the fence around the tree area at the community garden site last week I snapped these busy insects taking advantage of one of the later flowering shrubs – ivy. I thought they were bees but after putting the photo on iSpot it’s been identified as a hoverfly. iSpot is a collaborative site where you can post photos of any plant or animal and a community of biologists will identify it for you. While we are talking identification – many thanks to the person who identified my strange beetle in my last blog. It’s a sexton beetle.

Hedera – ivy – is a native evergreen plant which is very important to many species as a source of nectar and fruits when not much else is available. There’s a great fact sheet on ivy available on Nature’s Calendar.  The ivy bee, a recent arrival to the UK, times its whole life cycle around the flowering of ivy, and thrushes and pigeons are particularly fond of ivy fruit. On level ground, ivy will remain a low growing creeping plant, but, given any type of solid upright can climb up to 30 meters. Climbing ivy also provides a popular nesting site for small birds and in my garden, my robin nests amongst the ivy growing up an old tree trunk. When chopping back an overgrown Buddleia last week I dropped a branch on to this ivy covered trunk and found it had some new inhabitants – a wasps’ nest! I made a fast exit from the garden as they came swarming out and am still deciding what to do. Should I leave it alone or try to get rid of it? It’s out of reach of my three dogs but will they put off the robin from nesting there next spring?

Red apples in bowls
Apple harvest

Just harvesting from my one small apple tree and have been helping with the apple picking in preparation for the Tayport Fruifest. Looks like a bumper harvest this year.

Another task that falls to me at this time of year is releasing large spiders to the great outdoors. Living with one human and two canine arachnaphobes I keep my spider trapping kit on hand to catch these terrifying creatures and pop them outside. I often wonder if it’s the same ones I keep putting out only for them to come back. It is the male giant house spider that is seen at this time of year running across the floor in search of a mate. The males are only around from July to November while females can be found all year round but they tend to occupy undisturbed corners so are less visible. But spiders have their uses trapping flies and aphids so hopefully my house visitors mean I have a healthy garden population.

The leaves are really changing colour now with beautiful arrays of colours from yellow through to bright red. I’ll write more about this next time.

Spoke too soon about the weather. While its still mild the wind of the last couple of days has certainly wreaked some havoc on trees and shrubs.

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