Parakeets are notorious plot-raiders!
At the plot we’re waiting for things to grow… It’s all looking lush and bountiful. Alas there have been disappointments and failures too. Due to the cool conditions this summer, things are taking a little time to get going. The little cucumber plants stood in their patch in quasi-suspended animation and still show little sign of exploding into growth.
The pea patch was pilfered by the parakeets (bright green feathers in the pea patch helped solve the mystery of where all the tasty peas were disappearing to!). As a result we’ve had very few peas so far, and then to make matters worse the pea plants developed powdery mildew, so I’ve removed them but do have a few more pea seeds in the ground so hopefully they grow as a late crop.
And the squash crops are also flagging for some strange reason. There’s lots of flowers but very little fruit – and half of the little squashes that do develop rot off the vine. I was hoping for bumper crops of the tiny white flying-saucer shaped zucchinos, but thus far there’s a mere two little fruit hanging in and trying their best to grow. And on top of all that, the more seasoned allotmenteers at the plot have warned us of signs of blight on the tomatoes. (We don’t grow potatoes but there are plenty of potato patches around that also may have blight.) Zut alors!
Thank goddesses we have the spectacular bounty of nature to distract us from these vexations and worries. So much work for so little reward! And yet, to be truthful, the reward is simply being there…
The blue skies and the rustle of leaves in the breeze; the birdsong, the bees, bumblebees, butterflies. The intoxicating scent of the damask rose warmed in the summer sun, and the sound of bees busy on the flowers – they particularly love lavender and also enjoy gorging themselves on the white blossom of the blackberries.
Bees on the lavender on another allotment plot. (July 2020)
Oh my! It’s a feast for the eyes and a balm for the spirit. And our simple but satisfying picnic lunches aren’t half bad either.
Common Blue Butterfly (20 July 2020)
So despite the somewhat ho-hum state of our growing plots, we’ve been having a good time.
July has been a great month to see butterflies. The big guy’s been enjoying taking wonder walks and stalking as many of these beguiling little beauties as he can find. We’ve also seen a very large copper dragonfly on patrol, but that one’s too zippy and high-flying for us to get a photo.
The Common Blue butterfly is quite small and is widely distributed throughout the UK. They can be seen in heathlands and grassy meadows. Their underwing is a mottled speckled brown with orange pots, but when open reveals dusky ultra-violet blue wings with a black edge and white border. Very pretty indeed!
At the allotment these skittish little blue butterflies seem to favour plots with long grass, so are enjoying the relative relaxation of regular maintenance on the growing plots during this strange summer of lockdown and shielding from coronavirus.
Female Common Blue Butterfly (20 July 2020)
The food plant of these little beauties in their earlier caterpillar stages of life includes clover and common bird’s-foot trefoil and other such meadow plants. In flight, as a butterfly, they simply sup on flower nectar to provide them sufficient energy to fly and pursue mating partners.
(The life of a butterfly is one long mating party!)
Common Blue Butterfly (20 July 2020)
Gatekeeper Butterfly (20 July 2020)
Gatekeeper (underwing) (20 July 2020)
Brimstone Butterfly – designed to be perfectly camouflaged with plant leaves. (20 July 2020)
Brimstone Butterfly on a garden pinwheel. (20 July 2020)
Essex Skipper Butterfly on a lettuce plant. (20 July 2020)
We can’t recommend it enough! And recording what you find can help butterfly conservation efforts – simply go online and register your sightings between now and Sunday 9 August to the Big Butterfly Count.