July 2021 – Week Four and a bit

The last week of July continued to be mostly dry and sunny. The bees flock to the evening primrose flowers first thing in the morning before they wilt. As you can see the pollen is very stringy and sticky.yellow flower with bee

It’s now the turn of the peach coloured roses to bloom.peach roses

The golden rod self seeds everywhere.yellow flowers with bee

However, it is a cheery looking plant.yellow flowers with bee

It is also very popular with a wide variety of pollinators.yellow flowers with bee

The yukka is making its presence known.tall plant with white flowers

The sunshine has brought the butterflies out. There are a lot of white ones, but only this one stopped for a photo. I think it is a small white as opposed to a large white or a marbled white. We always used to just call them all cabbage whites due to their fondness for cabbages as caterpillars.white butterfly

A red admiral butterfly was trying to decide which was their better side, this one?red admiral butterfly

This one?red admiral butterfly

Or perhaps I shall pose on the red rose.butterfly on red roses

The thistle-like knapweed was proving irresistable to this bee.bee on purple flower

I think it is a common carder bee, Bombus pascuorum. They gather moss and dry grass for their nests.bee on purple flower

Knapweed is similar in appearance to thistle, but without the prickly bits.bee on purple flower

The bladder campion flowers have faded away leaving the dried calyxes.dry flower stems

The bird baths (and hedgehog water dishes) needed topping up regularly and were much in demand. Splish splash this young blackbird was taking a bath.blackbird having a bath

They became painfully aware that they were being observed.blackbird bathing robin watching

A queue was forming.blackbird bathing robin queueing

Finally the robin got a go.robin in bird bath

Although the mess the blackbird made of the bath water ruffled his feathers.robin bathing

Finally some thunderclouds appeared in the distance.thunderclouds forming

July went out with a bang and some splashes.rain falling in puddles

Still, the garden needed it.rain drops on vine leaf

Just a drop or two.black and white rain drops on leaf



July 2021 – Week Three

So the UK weather lurched from cold and damp to swelteringly hot and tinder dry. The hot weather triggered flying ants. These are fertile ants that fly from the nest to mate and start new colonies. The males die after mating. The female lands, chews off her wings and starts afresh.flying ant

A more appealing insect was this comma butterfly.speckled butterfly

A bee on the honeysuckle.bee on honeysuckle flowers

The other, more colourful, honeysuckle is now flowering.purple and white honeysuckle flowers

As are the sweetpeas.pink flowers

Dad blackbird was stretching out in the blazing sun looking very uncomfortable. I read that birds do this to kill off parasites and to spread their preening oil, but I have only ever noticed blackbirds doing this.blackbird stretched out in the sun

Meanwhile his offspring continue to perfect their mahonia berry snatching techniques. First eye up the target.blackbird looking at berries

Then enjoy the fruits of your labour.blackbird eating blue berry

July 2021 – Week Two

Glad to say that everyone in the Ratz household has now had two Covid-19 vaccinations, so Bill Gates can enjoy tracking our every move. Sadly I probably have to point out that was my attempt at humour, I’m sure Bill Gates has better things to do. We all had Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccines and apart from the expected mild immune response effects we have had no problems at all.

grey ball with red bits

Image of Coronavirus from CDC

Back to the Ratz garden. The lawn clover has been joined by these purple flowers. They are Prunella vulgaris, or self heal. As you might imagine this plant was used medicinally. It was used on wounds traditionally, modern research shows that it is high in vitamins and antioxidants. It can be eaten in salads or made into herbal tea or a pesto.purple flower on lawn

The Lychis coronaria is doing very well and I’m happy to say attracting the bees.bee flying away from white flower

The Alstromeria add a dash of exotic colour.3 orange lily flowers

My hedgehog friend came to say hello again.hedgehog on path

Then wandered off to hunt for insects in the clover.hedgehog on lawn with white clover flowers

Meanwhile, there was a very strange bird on the peanut feeder early one morning. mouse in peanut feeder

The Mahonia, or Oregon Grape as it is sometimes known, has produced distinctive blue berries. The young blackbirds have been learning from their parents and flying up to snatch the berries off. As you can see from the stripped stems they are getting very good at it.green leaved plant with blue berriesThe latest “lawn weed” to flower is the sweet smelling Yarrow, Achillea millefolium. As you might guess it was named after Achilles; apparently he used it to staunch his wounds on the battlefield (and we all know how that worked out for him). However, it is claimed to have medicinal properties and is apparently edible. It was also used instead of hops at one time to make beer, you can find a recipe here.white flowers

July 2021 – Week One

July seems to be carrying on in much the same way as June; chilly and with frequent rain showers. Between the showers the flowers continue to flower, like this St John’s Wort.yellow flowers

Following on from the white and yellow roses, it is the red roses turn to bloom.red rose flower

The laburnum flowers have turned into pea pods.pods of seeds

My little prickly friend hedgehog is snuffling about the garden and stopped to give me a good sniffing.hedgehog

The white flowers on the privet are attracting lots of bees, bumblebees, hoverflies and butterflies – none of the latter would pose for a photograph though.bee on white flower

I think these purple flowers are some sort of salvia, the bees approve of them so that’s good enough for me.bee on purple flower

Indeed worthy of two photographs.bee on purple flower

The Evening Primrose blooms in the evening as you might expect, but the flowers also last through the morning. During the day they attract bees and little beetles. At night they should be attracting moths, in turn these should be attracting bats. Sadly I haven’t noticed any bats for the last couple of months, I hope nothing has happened to their roost.yellow flowers against blue sky

June 2021 – Week Four and a Bit

While June was warmer and drier than May it still seemed to me to be chillier than usual with many overcast days. However, the mock orange – Philadelphus virginal – gleamed in the sunlight when it did show up. We have two of these trees/shrubs.white flowers

One has frillier flowers than the other.white flowers

For colour the fox and cubs –Pilosella aurantiaca – have sprung into action.orange flowers

I believe they are a type of hawkweed, as are these yellow dandelion type flowers. They are popular with bees and other pollinators like this beetle.yellow flower with beetle

Speaking of beetles, I was very pleased to spot a native 7 spot ladybird. I usually only see the harlequin varieties these days.red beetle with black spots

There also seems to be more snails about, probably thanks to the damp spring we had. In recent years they have been greatly outnumbered by slugs for some reason.black and white photo of snail on fence

The honeysuckle has been providing succour for the bees.bee on honeysuckle flower

As has the clover. I mow the lawn once a fortnight and consider it to be deadheading the clover to encourage fresh flowers. Consequently the lawn is buzzing with happy bees.bee on white clover flower

Coming in to land on the foxglove landing strip.bee flying onto foxglove flower

The wild strawberries have fruited. They are quite tasty; not as sweet as farm grown ones and they are pathetically small, but they are free.wild strawberries

Butterflies had pretty much disappeared from the garden so I was glad to see this speckled wood going strong.brown spotted butterfly

June 2021 – Week Three

June 21st was the longest day, so now the British can officially say every evening, “The nights are drawing in.” The third week of June was rather chilly and overcast most of the time, although we were treated to some fluffy cumulus clouds one morning.fluffy cotton ball cloudsThe foxgloves are fully flowering now.purple and white flowersThey are enticing bees with their hairy, spotty landing strips.bee inside purple flowerI tried in vain to get a decent photo of the swifts as they circled and screamed above my head. This was the only shot I got out of many many photos of empty skies.bird against blue skyThe young magpie was more accommodating, still begging food from the same sized parent.magpie feeding young magpieFeathers were ruffled and there was embarrassment all round as the magpie interrupted the wood pigeon’s bath.wood pigeon in bath and magpieWe also have a dishful of juvenile starlings.6 young starlingsOur regular hedgehog visitor is still regularly visiting, but there is no sign of any hoglets sadly. A few years ago the lawn was full of little hedgehogs running around my feet. The garden is very hedgehog friendly so their decline is clearly down to other environmental factors. There has been a new housing estate built nearby and climate change is affecting their hibernation habits meaning they wake when there is not sufficient natural food to support them.hedgehog in infrared

June 2021 – Week Two

The second week of June saw much of the UK basking in glorious sunshine. Flowers seem to be bursting into bloom and attracting a variety of insect life. The garden path is lined with frothy cow parsley (or a close relative).white flowersThis seems to be popular with the ashy mining bees, perhaps because the white pollen sacs match their outfits.black and white bee on white flowerblack and white bee on white flowerblack and white bee on white flowerblack and white bee on white flower

The clematis flowered.purple flowerCompeting with the clematis in the crinkly petal stakes is the poppy.red flower with black centre

Beating the poppy for big and blousey is the pink peony, defiant after a rainy downpour.Pink flower with yellow centre

With classic good looks we have white roses.white rose

Yellow roses.yellow rose

More white roses.white rose

The delphiniums are attracting the bees …blue flowers with bee

… and the froghoppers in the “cuckoo spit”.blue flower with frothy spit

The little alpine rock rose flowers are serving the little solitary bees.white flower with little black bee

The white clover has come through on the lawn, which also pleases the bees.white flower with bee

The pyracantha, or aptly named firethorn, was providing for this hoverfly, or is it some sort of bee, or maybe even a type of wasp?white flowers with insect

There was a very handsome thick legged flower beetle on the daisies.green beetle on daisy flower

While a bush cricket nymph settled for a buttercup.green cricket on yellow flower


June 2021 – Week One

After a chilly damp May, June is starting out warm and sunny. The bees are enjoying the last of the Ceanothus.bee on blue flower

The cotoneaster flowers are still attracting bees also.bee on red flower

The dandelion like hawkweed flowers have suddenly appeared everywhere. They are also popular with bees. bee on yellow flower

The first of the wild strawberries are flowering, and attracting bees.bee on white flower

The bladder campion is also popular with our pollinators, but none posed for a photograph this time.white flowers

The broom flowers add a splash of yellow. I have never noticed any bees on these.yellow flowers

Like this blog author the dandelions have gone to seed. Blow and make a wish.white seed head

Second Half of May 2021

The second half of May became drier and sunnier. Although we did still have a few rain showers one of which this squirrel got caught out in.wet grey squirrelThe sparrowhawk helped herself to one of the pigeons.sparrowhawk on dead pigeonA carrion crow checked out the carcass, but despite its name decided it preferred suet pellets.crow with dead pigeonAt least two hedgehogs have been regularly visiting the hedgehog feeder throughout each night.infrared hedgehogThe wood pigeons have been pairing off amidst much billing and cooing.two wood pigeonsI think it is fair to say that the trees are now fully in leaf.leafy treesSome are in flower like the Midlands Hawthorn.pink blossomsThe white lilac always flowers after the purple lilac for some reason.white lilac flowersThe ceanothus is still attracting the bees.bee on blue flowerAs are the geraniums.bee on pink flowerWild strawberries are blossoming.white flowers with yellow middlesThey grow amongst the Herb Robert, all over the paths!pink flowersSomewhat more flamboyant is this peony.red flowerThe dog roses indicate that summer is very nearly here, along with the sound of screaming swifts overhead.white rose#NoMowMay comes to an end with a dandelion seed head against a backdrop of germander speedwell.dandelion seed head



First Half of May 2021

After a frosty but dry April, it was May that brought us sunshine and showers. I think it rained pretty much every day during the first half of May. white billowing clouds

The rain was good for the garden though. The Ceanothus flowered and attracted some bees.bee on blue flowerThe apple blossom fully blossomed.white and pink apple blossomThe wet weather didn’t dampen the ardour of these courting hedgehogs.two hedgehogs in undergrowthThe laburnum tree flowered spectacularly.yellow tree blossomSticking with the yellow theme, the greater celandine sprang up.yellow flowerThe geraniums are still enticing the bees.bee on pink flowerThe cotoneaster flowers seem to be a bigger draw for a variety of bees …  bee on red flowers… and bumblebees, mainly tree bumblebees.bee on red flowersbee on red flowersbee on red flowersOnce again I took part in #NoMowMay to allow wildflowers, often derided as “lawn weeds” to grow providing an all you can eat buffet for bees and other pollinators. Who used to make daisy chains?white and yellow daisy flowersWho used to see if their friend liked butter by reflecting a butter cup under their chin to see if it glowed yellow?yellow buttercup flowersNot sure what you do with germander speedwell other than sit back and enjoy the carpet of blue they create.lots of blue flowers on lawnThe plantain is growing well unhindered by the mower’s blades. The leaves make a soothing balm, there is a recipe here if you want to try it. They were also used in a childrens’ game called “Soldiers” either as a form of conkers or by winding the stem around under the head and pulling it tightly to form a catapult.tall grassy plant


Last Week of April 2021

April 2021 was the frostiest April for at least 60 years, apparently. This seems to have delayed or even prevented some plants from flowering. However, the frosty nights and mornings gave way to dry sunny days and the bees were making the most of the flowers that were in bloom; such as this Geranium macrorrhizum.bee on pink flowerThe lilac bloomed fully into flower, and scent, attracting this buff tailed bumblebee queen.bumblebee on purple flowerBefore she moved onto a nearby dandelion.bumblebee on yellow flowerThe lilac also attracted a male orange tip butterfly, somewhat overexposed in the sunlight.white and orange butterfly on purple flowerA speckled wood butterfly took the opportunity to sunbathe on the path and was much kinder to my poor photographic skills.speckled butterflyThe apple blossom was blossoming.white and pink blossom

The periwinkled had been winkled out.blue flowers

Something made a hole in one of my tulips.red flowers against blue sky

I will try to do a May blog before June!






April 2021 Week Three

The third week of April continued the theme of cold nights and dry sunny days. There are plenty of spring blooms out in the garden to attract the bees and butterflies. I believe this is a Holly Blue butterfly, now more common than the Common Blue.blue butterflyThe hairy footed flower bees are still out and about. This female was on the flowering currant.black bee on pink flower

While the male was enjoying the aubretia.bee on purple flowerThe dwarf tulips in the planter by the hedgehog feeder survived the frost.purple and yellow tulipsThe Spanish bluebells are starting to flower.

blue flowers

The trees and shrubs are ringing out with the sounds of various birds. While on the fatball feeder this great tit was looking at the world from a new perspective.bird upside down on fatball feeder

The lilac flowers are nearly fully blooming, do you think they will be out before the end of April? Tune in next week to find out!lilac flowers



April 2021 Week Two

The second week of April has seen a continuation of the below average temperatures. The nights are often frosty but the days have mostly been sunny. The dandelions and forget-me-nots growing in the path provide an all day buffet for the pollinating insects.yellow and blue flowersWhite flowers are appearing on this little tree.white flowers on treeMore white flowers courtesy of the Candy Tuft.white flowersMr and Mrs Blackbird seem to have stopped gathering nesting materials, I presume they are now sitting on some eggs. Here is Mr BB waiting for some more sultanas.blackbirdThe apple blossom is just starting to appear.apple blossom buds

The aubretia is proving popular, especially with the bee flies and their preposterous tongues.bee fly on blue flowers

For balance here is a bee fly bum.bee fly flying away





April 2021 Week One

After the mini heatwave at the end of March, April begain with an arctic blast. We even had a light dusting of snow as well as some frosty mornings.lawn with frost and snowHowever, although chilly, the days have mostly been sunny which has brought the insects out. Such as this bumblebee on the quince.bumblebee on red flowerAnd this one on the forget-me-nots.bee on blue flowersA favourite of pollinators, albeit unoccupied when I took the photo, dandelions are popping up everywhere. In this case it is growing among the aubretia.yellow flower surrounded by blue flowersThe lilac flowers are shaping up nicely.lilac flowers starting to openAnd the trees are sprouting green leaves.trees starting to grow green leavesThe dwarf tulip dared to open out. We’ll see if another week of frosts slows the pace any.purple tulip flower







March 2021 Week Four and a Bit

The final week of March saw a mini heatwave, with the hottest March day for 53 years. This warm sunny weather brought lots of insects to the garden, such as this bee tucking into a primrose.bee in a primrose flowerThere was also some sort of solitary bee covered in pollen on the white flowering shrubs.bee on white flower

A male hairy footed flower bee on the flowering currant.bee on pink flowers

The bee-flies have made a welcome return.bee-fly on lawn

A beautiful peacock butterfly also appeared.peacock butterfly

The lesser celandine are blooming on the lawn like a carpet of stars.yellow flower

This will be the last of the cherry plum blossom now that the copper coloured leaves are appearing.pink blossom with brown leaves

Green leaves are also bringing the trees back to life.green leaf shoots on tree

And who doesn’t love a cheerful daisy?daisy flower

The grape hyacinths are a firm favourite with the bee-flies.bee fly on blue flower


March 2021 Week Three

This post is a little late as I have been without a functioning phone line for a week. In my absence WordPress has made it more difficult to use the Classic Editor, yet again. The solution for now is to go to account settings – dashboard appearance – enable show advanced dashboard pages. On a happier note, one of the hedgehogs has woken from hibernation and found the fresh water and cat biscuits.Photo of hedgehog drinking waterThe dog violets have started to flower. The violet ones are growing up through the cracks in the path.violet flowerThe white violets are growing on the lawn.white violet flowerThis week the cherry plum tree is occupied by a blackbird and a robin. The blackbirds have been very busy collecting nesting material, I think they are creating a superstructure in the shrubbery.blackbird and robin in cherry treeThe forsythia is a blaze of yellow.yellow flowersAnd if you are feeling blue, the forget-me-nots are starting to flower.blue forget-me-not flowersI know you are eager to see how the lilac buds are progressing. The answer is very well.Lilac buds openingAs this post is so late you can have a bonus wren, mainly because I’m so pleased to have got a photo of one, even if it isn’t a very good one (photo that is, I’m sure the wren is very well behaved).small brown bird



March 2021 Week Two

Please do not adjust your eyesight; most of my photos this week are even more blurry than usual due to the incessant high winds we have had. Between the showers the first lawn daisy raised its face to the sun.daisy flower on lawn

The quince is in full swing.red blossoms growing up a wall

The lilac buds are teasing us.purple buds

Can you spot the robin in the cherry plum tree. The birds are singing their little hearts out at the moment, attracting mates and warning off rivals. Never has “You’re going home in a private ambulance” sounded so sweet.robin in cherry tree

The cherry plum blossoms seem pretty resiliant, I’m surprised they haven’t all blown off.pink blossoms

The queen bumblebees also seem burly enough to brave the gales. There was no shortage of fluffy bee butts on the Mahonia.bumblebee on yellow flowers

The flowering currant is currently about to flower so I expect lots of bees on it next week.purple flower

March 2021 Week One

The first week of March has seen some mixed weather; icy nights, biting winds, rain and glorious sunshine. The Mahonia continues to attract pollinators, including this hyperactive hairy footed flower bee. Sadly this bleached out affair was the best photo I got of him.bee in yellow flowers

A late riser was this buff tailed bumblebee queen, she was bumbling around after all the other bees had left.bumblebee in yellow flowers

The warm sunshine and clear blue sky brought the buzzards soaring high above.buzzard against blue sky

The first cherry plum blossom blossomed.pale pink blossom

The lilac bud gave a hint of colour to come. The flower is coiled up inside waiting for spring to spring.purple flower inside green bud

The birds are busy attracting mates and gathering nest building material. This little sparrow was chirruping away in the cherry tree.sparrow in cherry tree

The first grape hyacinth has flowered, soon they’ll be attracting the bee flies.blue flower

February 2021 Week Four

The wet and windy weather of the previous week gave way to some clear chilly nights and a few gloriously sunny days. This brought the bees back to the mahonia flowers.bee on yellow flower

The snowdrops finally got around to opening up.snowdrops

More crocuses sprang up over the lawn, in the cracks of the paths and some are even growing on the garden. Although these crocuses of hope are now looking a little battered.purple crocus flowers

A few more primroses appeared.yellow primrose flowers

This hoverfly poked its tongue out at me.hoverfly drinking nectar from white flower

Queen bumblebees are starting to wake up, I think this is a tree bumblebee. She has a white bottom but no yellow stripes.bumblebee on yellow flower

The daffodils are flowering just in time for St David’s Day on 1st March.yellow daffodil flowers

February 2021 Week Three

The third week of February was milder, but wetter and windier.raindrops falling in a puddle

The crocuses opened up again during the rare appearance by the sun. They now lie battered and sodden.purple flowers with orange centres

The snowdrops fared well, though they are still reticent to open up. This one was brave though.white snowdrop flower

The holly leaved hellebore also managed to shake off the rain.green flowers

The single primrose flowering has so far survived the downpours.pale yellow primrose with raindrops

I was fortunate enough to manage to get a photograph of one of the long tailed tits on the fatball feeder.long tailed tit bird on fatball feeder

The lilac buds are developing nicely.lilac buds