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Saturday, 5 August 2017

Continuing In A Not Quite An Englishman's Country Garden!

Ahh, the things you find in the Summer in your garden.  Some can be quite mysterious. Some can make you scream out "What's that?!"  If you are in the UK the answer is not Bigfoot!

The thing is that most people only pay attention to their flower bed or the height of their grass and most have no idea about insects or wildlife...or things insects leave around.  Such as this....
 Not great photos (I need a new camera!) but this brownish ball is a gall of Andricus kollari Andricus kollari.  More information can be found here:

DO NOT panic as they are harmless to your trees and there is no treatment anyway.
 Now if I had a better camera it would look like this, from Nature Spot UK

Below: Wondering what that other stuff was ~everything in one shot!
 Below (left) in photo are the brown clusters of Common spangle gall (Neuroterus quercusbaccarum)
 To the right (above) the pointy items is a gall of the Oak gall wasp
AndricusNeuroterusBiorhiza and Cynips species More information as well as photos can be found here:
Round brown objects on leaves (above left) Common spangle gall (Neuroterus quercusbaccarum) on Oak (Quercus robur)

My ornamental cherry tree has had clear sap coming from it for years.  Now, if you do a web search "sap coming from ornamental cherry tree" you get this:

Common name Bacterial cankerScientific name Pseudomonas syringae pv. morsprunorum and Ps. pv. syringaePlants affected Prunus speciesMain symptoms Sunken, dead patches of bark and small holes in leavesCaused by BacteriaTiming Cankers form in mid-spring, shotholes on foliage from early summer
Now, my tree does not have "shot~hole" so I need to up its feed and I just used the last of the chicken pellet fertilizer on it.  Leaf cutter insects I find plenty of evidence of!  But there is one thing I encourage and that is any type of garden spider building its web between branches.  

 So I do not have to worry and as fruit trees do tend to release sap and this one does this every year, has good looking green leaves and an abundance of cherries (ask the jackdaws, crows and rooks how they taste  because they were grabbing them almost as fast ~but not quite~ as the squirrel.

Oh, and I did as suggested and cut the sap away and no 'sawdust' indicating bore worm just solid wood.

Plenty of snails, as well as empty shells from where blackbirds have eaten the snail.  Slugs. Quite a few and of a lot of different types (they tend to have a meal on the food put out for foxes and the hedgehogs!).  They also make a great addition to The Green Man (photo top of page).

I've watched a couple of very large hedgehogs, who do not give a damn how much noise they make by the front door (food station in poor weather) nor how many times I have to get up to make sure it isn't burglars!

As both fox and hedgehogs alter their visiting times I was worried that I might just be feeding cats ~a good few pass through here~ and I wanted to make sure.  The old trick is to use a "sand trap" an inch thick (2.5cms) layer of sand around a food dish (in this case) and see what tracks you get. I had no sand so resorted to an old ghost hunters trick ~a layer of talcum powder.

The tracks next day showed a large gull, magpie and cat tracks but also hedgehog and fox. The hedgie tracks don't show up well but the fox ones are reasonable.
 Above, top left the rounded pad of a cat. To the right of that a canid (fox) track showing a nail print.
Below: WHERE to begin! Cat and fox but if you look at the upper right side of the manhole cover you have magpie tracks.  You can also clearly see the webbed gull tracks!

I've also seen the small vixen close to and there was no sign of mange.

There are other indicators of hedgehogs, of course. Poop.  Yes, I know that it should not but it makes me smile seeing it.  It shows if the hedgehog in question is healthy or not.  So when I walked out my front door in June and almost stepped on this I had to go fetch the camera!

I knew one neighbour who used to talk about his arguments with the neighbour who "chucked bits of black tar" onto his lawn.  Never ever saw him do this and pointed to some of this "tar"...hedgehog poop.

From the photos you will see there are plenty of acorns this year. So squirrel should be okay though I spied one of the gardens further along has a squirrel feeder in it (YAY! People beginning to get more wildlife friendly around here at last).  It also means the Jay will be back so I need to sort a feeder out for it.

Lola the cat from somewhere (aka: killer bitch queen for the number of mice, at least one juvenile rat and shrews she has killed) helped out by climbing trees I was trying to inspect and cut back.  And she also helped by attempting to tackle my boots.

Below: Lola on patrol.

Black ants.  oh the black ants. They do say the red ones bite.  Right. The black ones really bite in, especially if I put my arm against the oak tree while filling the bird fact, the main type of ant I've seen in the garden (front and back) are black ants.  I used to watch them as they herded aphids in the already mentioned cherry tree.

Below: Kingdom of the Ants!!

All the cut branches from a while back are now stored and will probably be used as supports for other plants, etc..

Below: wood pigeons.  At one point these birds and collared doves were almost wiped out in the UK but since the 1970s have come back in numbers.

The collared doves, wood pigeons, magpies, rooks, jackdaws, crows and of course, pigeons, are still flipping around and so are the smaller birds.

So much of the local habitat has been cut back or destroyed and as new people move in and out gardens are turned over, concreted, paving slabbed and shrubs and bushes done away with. It is nice to see people plant more things these days and not realize ~or realize~ it encourages wildlife.  If you dont have the habitat you don't get Eye Hawk Moths breeding.  These two were, uh, "snuggling up" last month on my back wall.

Not great but this photo shows why how they got the name.

There has also been one or two very large moths shoot out from the shade of the barrel planted potatoes.  Too fast for me to see what they were.  Next year I plan a survey.

Below: potatoes in a bin!
 First year after repotting ~my apple tree

Yes, with foxes, cats, hedgehogs and no real soil here, we reverted to the old trick of planting potatoes in an old plastic barrel bin.  I had planned to use the plastic compost bin, however, we have a colony of bumble bees in there so it's their home now!

Next year is also the planting of more vegetables and fruit in barrels because that means no chemicals and we know where it all came from!

Also, the 12" (30cms) tall nightshade plant a bit. Need to move it from the front door where it is suitably identified as toxic in case some idiot plays about with it.

So that's my update. At least it was a sunny day!

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