Saturday, 31 August 2013


The thing I like most about August is that there's nothing much to do. No sowing or planting or staking, just a bit of weeding and dead heading, some watering. It's a time for raking in the harvest and sitting back and admiring my handiwork.

Plenty to eat - potatoes, peas, beans, carrots, cabbages, kale, tomatoes, raspberries, blackberries and the first plums.

Lots of bees and butterflies enjoying the flowers - it's been a good summer for them too. Except for the lavender all the plants that were flowering in July are still out now. And to top it all I was blessed with a visit from a clouded yellow, very rare in these parts.

More sexy pics

 Plot in August looking gorgeous even if I do say so myself.

 Lush scabious has to be one of the best plants for bees and butterflies...

 ...yes I should say so...

 ...and this veronica...

...but what's this...

 ...that's better...

 ...gimmee gimmee... pink...

...ah that's the money shot.


It's all very well having all these plants for pollinators but they also need places to live and breed. The top of my plot behind the trees is where I chuck all my rammel - prunings, bits of wood, piles of bricks, slabs, bits of junk that might come in handy. It might look like a tip - actually it is a tip - but to the bees it's home sweet home. No need for silly "bee hotels" and the like if you've got a tip.

For the caterpillars of our colourful garden butterflies like peacocks, small tortoiseshells and red admirals only one plant really matters - the stinging nettle. I've got several patches around the edges of my plot (especially in the tip) and it's always fascinating to watch the caterpillars munching their way through them.

The grassland species like meadow browns, gatekeepers and ringlets depend on - no surprise - grass. The grass needs to left long until the end of the season; in my orchard I leave it until the fruit is ready to be picked. I strimmed it down under my plum tree a couple of weeks ago and under the apple trees today. I'll leave the rest of it until the end of autumn as there's quite a few wild flowers in there too - flowering at the moment is ragwort, tufted vetch, field bindweed and knapweed. And since I've been leaving the grass long I've noted two new species here - the large skipper and small copper.

So there you go - habitat for bees and butterflies: a tip, nettles and long grass. Hardly surprising that urban allotments are so rich in wildlife.

Cinnabar moth caterpillar on ragwort.

Small tortoiseshell caterpillars on stinging nettle.

Small copper.