Sunday, 30 November 2014

Bird (?) Feeder

I decided yesterday afternoon to take the bird feeders out of the garden shed and place them on the metal frame over my terrace where they serve the purpose throughout the winter. Namely, I got some fresh pork fat from a friend of mine and wanted to make the seed balls for the birds.

I was rather surprised when I discovered a papery structure attached on one of the bird feeders. Of course, I knew immediately what it is - a hornet (Vespa crabro) nest. It was the size of a tennis ball. I removed it with a knife and put into my cabinet of curiosities. I love to collect such thing from nature.

The structure is really beautiful. Most of the cells are empty. Only three of them contain something long and black, probably a few dead larvae. 

This is how the comb looks like. Each cell opening makes a perfect hexagon. It is a really fascinating piece of engineering, isn't it? 

Well, the bird feeders are now on its place. 

Thursday, 27 November 2014

The Show is Over

Cotoneaster horizontalis

The grand show is over. The garden is finally falling into the winter peace. Still, here and there some of the bushes attract the eyes like this bright red foliage of Cotoneaster before the frost make them fall off. Or, my beloved Dogwood shrub that exposes the red stems.  
This week the temperatures dropped to 2°C and stick to it. 

We had some frosty mornings too, but it is quite normal for November. I got a basketful of apples from my friend as well as a garland of dried figs, my favourite dry fruit. Though I have a spacious garden there is not much fruit trees planted in it. I'd like to plant some column-apples and pears in the middle of my vegetable beds. Because they grow straight up, they don't cast a big shadow onto a ground below them. Well, that is an idea to think over the winter.

Have you started a countdown to Christmas? I made a few wreaths of natural materials like twigs, lichens, birch bark and pine cones, but I gave them all away to my friends.
Never mind, I already have an idea what would my home look like this Christmas.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Warm Days Continue

It was cloudy in the morning but it was not raining and the temperature was just right for working in the garden. I harvested probably the last bunch of mangold and Swiss chard from my veg garden this year. Unless, the weather stays so warm and new shoots I sow on the plants would still have time to grow to the reasonable cooking size. I cooked it together with potatoes and season with olive oil. It was a nice side dish to the fried sea fish.

The flower beds are ready for winter. I still have some work in my vegetables garden. I have finished the half of the veg plot, doing tidying up, weeding and mulching the beds with straw. The cabbage family in the back side of the photo looks really poor after I have removed half of the leaves eaten by the caterpillars! But, they will recover. I noticed no caterpillars today. Besides, kale tastes better when touched by frost.

The foliage of my ornamental cherry 'Burgundy Glow' are red throughout the year but now they turned bright red and started to fall off.

Bergenia thinks it's Spring and has developed new flowers. Some roses are still blooming and I felt sorry to prune them. I left rose pruning for the last of the gardening work because the roses I have already pruned have new shoots! Please, go to sleep, roses!
As much as we love this warm weather, it is not good for the vegetation. Normally, in November, the temperatures are around 5°C, the leaves are all fallen off the trees, plants dormant, the grass doesn't grow anymore... The next ten days continue to be pretty warm (15 - 18 °C), how odd. I think I'll have to mow the lawn one more time this year.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Caterpillars in November?

The tidying up the flower beds, as well as the vegetable garden, goes on slowly.  No need to rush when the days are so beautiful. It is too warm for November and many plants are still green. We haven't had frosty days yet except one morning and that was only in extremely moist part of the garden.
This kale witness how warm it is. It suffered the caterpillar attack. Caterpillars in November?? Oh, yes.

Funny, they were all over the kale 'Black Tuscany' but not on the 'Rossignol' or 'Scarlet'. There were two or three green caterpillars (the cabbage looper) among them but most of the caterpillars were yellow with black dots along the side. These are the caterpillars of  large white cabbage butterfly Pieris brassicae. This butterfly is likely to be seen in two generations, one in June - July and the second one in late August -September. What is curious, I haven't seen any until now.

I simply shook all of them into a bucket and crushed them all - sorry guys, I want some kale in the winter.
And, this little fellow carefully keeps the watch over me every time I work in the garden and now I know why. Yesterday afternoon, before I went into the house, I decided to rake the molehills on the lawn. There was a walnut buried in each mole hill! I certainly spoiled the squirrel some plans for the winter stock. But, it has buried acorns and hazelnuts in my vegetable garden (I left them be) and I am sure it will find another place for walnuts too.