A Tiger or a Bear?

I am very pleased that this Buddleia has recovered after freezing back completely last winter, but was then doubly happy to see these two butterflies resting on it the other day, as they are quite unusual…

The English name is Jersey Tiger, but in German they are called ‘Russian Bear’… interesting! Another name used in both languages is ‘Spanish Flag’. I wonder what the Spanish call it!

When resting you cannot see the bright orange part of the wings, so here is a Wikipedia photo to give you an idea of the flashes of bright orange when they flutter away – too quickly for me and my camera!

Wilipedia image

In southern Germany they can often be seen, but only near the woods or on shrubby grassland. They apparently like raspberry or nettle leaves, both of which are abundant in the nearby woods and hedges.

Have you seen this butterfly? And which name would you say is more apt – Tiger or Bear?! ūüėČ

In a Vase on Monday: Spot the Difference!

I am joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden once again by gathering materials from my garden for a vase, in order to share them with you all.

I’m afraid the pink rose in the background was trying to grab all the attention while I took the photos!

Can you see what the difference is in the next picture?

The dwarf Buddleia is doing a fine job of attracting the butterflies, mostly Peacocks, but also this Silver-washed fritillary…

It is hot, humid and windy here, and heavy showers have flattened some of my grasses, so I picked a big bunch of these (Sporobolus?), stuck in a stray Buddleia stem, and a Melica ciliata that was swaying over the pathway, and framed it all with some rather healthy looking Hellebore foliage. (Wish it looked that good in winter!)

At the front I added a reddish pink Daucus carota ‘Dara’ flower.

Everything was placed in a flower frog in a new vase, which I picked up on a whim on a brief trip to the florist this morning. I love the colour and the glaze, as well as the shape. ūüôā

 

Daucus carota ‘Dara’, grown from seed this spring – it’s a slow germinator, but worth the wait!

Having just looked at Cathy’s own lovely vase today I think we must have been on a similar wavelength as the shape of our vases is very similar. Do go and visit her and see what beautiful arrangements are being created around the world for her meme this Monday!

A Garden Review of 2014: Summer

The second part of my Garden Review 2014 looks at the summer months, and will hopefully make you all sigh and smile as you think back to your gardens last summer!¬† Do join in if you can. And thanks to those who already have. It’s wonderful therapy looking through bright and “flowerful” photos!

ūüôā

June: “Although it‚Äôs barely 20¬įC with the odd shower passing through, I still feel like summer has arrived‚Ķ” were the opening words of my first post in June. It got very hot soon after, but the earlier showers had given the garden the reserves it needed to get through a short heatwave mid-June, and three very dry weeks. The Lychnis¬†coronaria loved it!

GardenReview2014June1

The Lychnis filled all the driest spots where other plants just shrivel up. (Above with Campanulas and below with Linaria). In German Lychnis are Lichtnelken – Licht is light, and Nelken are carnations/pinks… very apt.

GardenReview2014June8

 Another resilient flower that was fabulous again this summer is the Centranthus ruber. I only cut it back a couple of weeks ago Рyes at the end of November Рbut it was still flowering after six months! Almost all my butterfly photos are on or near the Centranthus.  In the slideshow below you can see the Hummingbird Hawk-Moth on it. The other butterfly is a Marbled White on some pink vetch.

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The day lilies were as gorgeous as ever, but I always forget just how much I love them. I remember a (non-gardening) visitor asking me once what they were, and then she said “I don’t like them”. I was speechless!

GardenReview2014June2

Another June favourite is the strong yellow of St John’s Wort, which brings the garden to life, and the insects love it of course.

GardenReview2014June7

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July got off to a hot start, but with many showers the whole month was extremely humid. The Centranthus continued to attract beautiful creatures – here the Broad-bordered Bee Hawk-Moth…

GardenReview2014July3

And the bees loved the Echinacea. (And so did I!)

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Early August was perfect, but the heat was not to last as mid-month the tail end of hurricane Bertha swept across northern Europe. But the Centranthus and red rose, along with some Hollyhocks, continued to provide more lovely colour…

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¬†Signs of autumn were already there by mid-August… more of that in my final Review post next week. In the meantime I hope this brought a smile to your face, and I would love to see your garden reviews of 2014 too!

ūüôā

Tuesday View (14th October)

It poured with rain last night, and when I looked out this morning I immediately noticed a change in the colours of the leaves, as well as a great number lying on the ground. And yet I think there is little change in the rockery itself compared with last week…

TuesdayView14th1

The acer is possibly at its peak now, and I think the greener leaves will probably drop before changing colour this year… funny how it varies from year to year. The dwarf Miscanthus below the acer always flowers beautifully, but the giant one behind it (see an old post here for more photos) only produces a few flowers every few years… no signs of any yet…

AutumnView

There are still a few late summer flowers too – this Lychnis was a lovely surprise this morning…

Lychnis

And although the asters are starting to fade, the butterflies (here a Comma) are still visiting them…

OctoberComma

THE rose is still flowering… to defy me?!

THErose

And finally the Persicaria that I have mentioned many times is still offering sustenance to the bees…

PersicariaBee

Are you still seeing bees or butterflies?

A Butterfly Diary (September)

Butterfly1

Keeping a Butterfly Diary this year has essentially been an enjoyable pastime; the waiting and watching, running for my camera, clambering through the rockery in unsuitable footwear, or thumbing through my butterfly guide while lying in the grass on a warm summer’s day…

BroadBackedBeeHawkMoth

But it has also been very educational. I knew very little beforehand, and was unable to name many of the visitors to my garden. And reading up on certain butterflies meant I learned about their foodplants, migratory habits, number of broods in a year, overwintering etc etc. Overall it has been a lovely activity, and I hope to repeat it next year. This will probably be the last butterfly post this season, with numbers already dwindling as the nights get colder and days shorter. We often get very foggy or misty days in autumn too, which prevent the sun from warming up the garden enough for most butterflies.

Butterfly2012

So let’s celebrate these last visitors and in planning our future plant or bulb purchases, spare a thought for the butterflies’ favourite flowers!

Early September was warm but damp, humid in fact. The only butterflies I saw were the cabbage whites, red admirals that have been around most of the summer, and still the Hummingbird Hawk-moths (Macroglossum stellatarum, Taubenschw√§nzchen). These creatures are fascinating to watch! Here is one I observed in the middle of September. They are pretty fast – longer stops would mean their wing muscles would cool down too much…

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They return to the same plants at the same times every day – especially on warm and sunny days.

For more pictures take a look here, and for tips on attracting them to your garden look here.

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A single Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus, Hauhechel-Bläuling) turned up in the middle of the rockery mid-month, also on the Centranthus ruber. Can you spot it?

Blue

I can’t stress enough just how valuable this plant is in my garden. Not only does it flower all summer, it attracts so many butterflies and insects too! You may have noticed that many of the¬† butterflies I have shown over the past few months have been on the Centranthus.

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So, for a change, a different plant is the background here for the European Peacocks (Aglais io/Inachis io, Tagpfauenauge), which always turn up reliably to relish on the Sedums and Michaelmas Daisies (see the photo I posted yesterday).

Peacock2

Those colours are exquisite – I wonder if they have any idea just how beautiful they are! These markings are actually supposed to make predators afraid of them… see this lovely video here for an example.

Peacock4

They are our most long-lived butterflies too, surviving for up to a year if a mild overwintering place is found.

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Then we had a Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera, Mauerfuchs) visit the Sedum too. The Wall Browns like to bask in the sun with their wings open, especially on rocks or (surprise!) walls. They are typical for stony or rocky hillsides like those around us, with various grasses as their foodplant.

WallBrown

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I also saw the first Comma since spring (Polygonia c-album/Nymphalis c-album, C-Falter). I don’t know why I didn’t see any in the summer…

Comma2

It has a very intricate outline and such rich colouring on the upper wings, but the underside of the wings resembles dead leaves – perfect camouflage.

Can you see the comma mark on the closed lower wing in the photo below?

Comma1

The Comma hibernates, and can usually be seen flying from April to November.

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Sometimes the German names are prettier than the English, sometimes the reverse: in this case the English name wins hands down: the Queen of Spain Fritillary  (Issoria lathonia, Kleine Perlmutterfalter)!

Fritillary1

This was one of the rare occasions I have actually seen butterflies on my Verbena bonariensis, despite what a butterfly magnet everyone says it is. The silvery edges to this fritillary’s wings may have contributed to it being given such a regal name.

Fritillary2

One of its larval foodplants is the wild field pansy. They fly in three or even four generations in Central Europe, overwintering here in the caterpillar form, but they may also be one of the btterflies (like the Red Admiral or the Hummingbird Hawk-moths) that migrate from warmer climates over the Alps in the spring. Amazing to think of such tiny creatures soaring to heights over 2500 metres in order to cross the mountains…

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That was it for September. If I see any different ones in October I will be sure to post about them.

In the meantime I have been looking back at my photos for the year and trying to decided which butterfly I love best: probably the Peacock – simply because it is familiar, colourful, and a reliable visitor in autumn – my favourite time of year.

I’d love you to tell me what your favourite butterfly is, and whether you have seen it this summer?

Some nice links:

A Butterfly Diary (August)

Swallowtail 2012

Swallowtail 2012

“I dance above the tawny grass

In the sunny air,

So tantalized to have to pass

Love everywhere

O Earth, O Sky, you are mine to roam

In liberty.

I am the soul and I have no home,

Take care of me.”

From The Butterfly, by Alice Archer (Sewall) James

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Since March this year I have been carefully recording the butterflies, along with a few other beautiful winged creatures, that have visited my garden or the meadow just beyond my garden gate. This month I have again seen many regular visitors; Tortoiseshells, Meadow Browns, Common Brimstones, the occasional Blue, and of course the Small and Large Whites, which despite their profusion have been practically impossible to photograph due to their incessant fluttering!

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Last month I posted a photo of the¬†Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta, Admiral) with its wings closed. At the beginning of this month a couple were regular visitors to the garden again and rested with open wings for longer periods…

RedAdmiral2

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An unnamed Verbena (maybe someone out there knows which one it is!) attracted this Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene, Braunfleckige Perlmutterfalter)…

SmallPearlBorderedFritillary2

There are so many similar fritillaries, so if anyone spots I have made an error please let me know, but the Small Pearl Bordered is one of the most common ones in our region Рactually fairly large with a wingspan of about 3-4cm. Like other fritillaries, the main foodplant is violets. The second generation caterpillars drop to the ground beneath their foodplant for protection in winter and remain hidden until spring, only then forming a chrysalis.

SmallPearlBorderedFritillary1

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Another Fritillary, perhaps a High Brown Fritillary? (Fabriciana/Argynnis adippe, Feurige Perlmutterfalter)

Fritillary

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The oregano and marjoram plants have been particularly favoured by the Meadow Browns featured last month, as well as this butterfly; the Map (Araschnia levana, Landk√§rtchen). The wings when closed explain the name it has been given, with a network of lines…

Map1

And the upper side of the wings (see below) does also remind me of the colours found on old maps. This one is a second generation one – the early spring ones, which I haven’t seen here, are more colourful with a lot more orange on the upper wing. Apparently the Map is only seen in central and eastern Europe, and not in the UK. Have you ever seen one?

Map2

The Map lays its eggs on nettles and prefers the edges of woodland as its habitat. There humidity is higher and there is some shade for the larvae/caterpillars, while the adults can then fly beyond the woods into sunny areas with nectar-rich flowers.

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The Hummingbird Hawk-moths (Macroglossum stellatarum, Taubenschw√§nzchen) have been visiting the Centranthus since it opened in May and although there have been phases with fewer numbers, I’d say I have never seen so many as in this summer. The early spring warmth must have suited them.

HummingbirdHawkMoth1

The early ones were small (only 3cm wingspan) and flew very fast, but as the year progressed they became larger and very slightly slower – acoording to Wikipedia 70 to 90 wingbeats per second! Other interesting facts: the proboscis is about 2cm long and they can fly backwards! As our climate has slowly got milder they now overwinter in most of central Europe, but many still migrate quite far north. Do let me know if you’ve seen one or even several this year. The ones visiting us may be both those that have overwintered and migratory ones. The second generation appears mid-August.

HummingbirdHawkMoth2

 They fascinate me with their tiny fat soft bodies and distinct faces and I love having them brush past me while working in the rockery.

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Apart from a very brief glimpse of a¬†Bedstraw Hawk-Moth (Hyles gallii, Labkrautschw√§rmer) the only other hawk moth I have seen this year is the Broad-bordered Bee Hawk-moth, (Hemaris fuciformis, Hummelschw√§rmer)…

BroadBorderedBeeHawkMoth3

Beautiful creatures!

This one has a slightly larger body than the Hummingbird Hawk-moths, but the wingspan is about the same – around 4 to 5 cm. From the information on the German Wikipedia page (the English one is minimal!) I assume we have two generations here, and they overwinter here too. The foodplants include all Lonicera, as well as Galium, Deutzia, Knautia and – to my surprise – Cephalaria, which I recently put on my autumn planting list after seeing it in Janet’s garden (Plantaliscious). ūüôā They are found in open woodland and chalk hills with conifers and shrubby honeysuckles – precisely what our region offers.

BroadBorderedBeeHawkMoth1

Other hawk-moths I have seen in previous years were the Small Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila porcellus, Kleiner Weinschwärmer) and the Bedstraw Hawk-moth (Hyles gallii, Labkrautschwärmer), which I posted about in 2012 here.

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Mid-month my neighbour brought me a caterpillar to identify: a Pine Hawk-moth (Sphinx pinastri, Kiefernschwärmer). It was about 7cm long and very lively!

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After looking it up I thought the actual moth looked familiar. In early June I took a photo of a large grey moth with black markings, then promptly forgot about it…. here it is: the Pine Hawk Moth…

Kiefernschwaermer3June

Not as impressive as the caterpillar, but still rather pretty markings. This one was about 10cm long, but I didn’t see its wings open. The adults lay the eggs on pine needles or other conifers, and are seen between May and June, and then again in August. I imagine our caterpillar will overwinter in its chrysalis then.

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While looking through old photos from June to find the Pine Hawk-moth, I also discovered this picture which I had totally forgotten about as well: a Five-spot Burnet (Zygaena trifolii, Sumpfhornklee-Widderchen). I shall include it here and add it to my June post too.

SixSpotBurnet

The wings are almost black, tinged blue, with those distinctive red spots. I have since learned that the foodplant is Bird’s-foot Trefoil – another excuse not to do the weeding!

ūüėČ

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¬†I glimpsed the elusive Swallowtail butterfly floating elegantly across the lawn, but the photo at the top of this post was taken 2 years ago. There’s still time yet, and a Swallowtail caterpillar on the fennel provides hope!

SwallowtailCaterpillar2

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There is still another butterfly month left – maybe even two – so I shall be keeping my eyes peeled and will report once again at the end of September.

ūüôā

What visited your garden in August? Any unusual guests?

A Butterfly Diary (July)

JulyTortoiseshell

Flutter by, butterfly,

Floating flower in the sky.

Kiss me with your petal wings‚ÄĒ

Whisper secrets, tell of spring.

~

(Author Unknown)

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There have been butterflies in numbers, but not much variety this month. I am still waiting for the elusive Swallowtail to visit me… a friend in our small village has already seen one, but it hasn’t flown in my direction yet! I am also still waiting to see a Comma and more Hawk Moths, with only two different ones making an appearance so far… so I will include them in my August diary.

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The Cabbage Whites, Skippers, Common Blues and Brimstones are still very profuse, but the main visitor this month has been the Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina, Gro√ües Ochsenauge) with the characteristic orange and the eyespot on the upper wings…

MeadowBrown1

They have been feeding on the lavender, Marjoram and Oregano, and of course my prized Centranthus ruber. The larval foodplants are mainly grasses, oats etc. They are most commonly seen in this position with the wings closed, but I also managed to get one resting with open wings, and it suddenly seemed much larger – about a 4 or 5cm wingspan…

MeadowBrown2

This was a male – less colourful then the female.

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Next, the Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus, Faulbaum-Bläuling) Рsuch a delightful sight! A small speck of blue light flashing past, and then when it stops a moment the closed wings are equally pretty, reminding me of the fans used by Japanese ladies in hot weather

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The air is like a butterfly
With frail blue wings.
The happy earth looks at the sky
And sings.

(The words of Joyce Kilmer)

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They are common here and are typically found in and around deciduous forests. The caterpillars feed on all sorts of hedgerow plants and shrubs such as Prunus, Dogwood, Buckthorn, Vetches, etc.

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The Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta, Admiral) is still around. You can see a photo of its outstretched wings in my June post and this photo shows it with closed wings, which I think have such an interesting texture, as well as the beautiful markings of course.

RedAdmiral2

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The Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia, Kaisermantel) has been a regular visitor and I just have to share another photo, although this already made an appearance in my  Butterfly Diary in June

Kaisermantel

Thou spark of life that wavest wings of gold,
Thou songless wanderer mid the songful birds,
With Nature’s secrets in thy tints unrolled
Through gorgeous cipher, past the reach of words,
Yet dear to every child
In glad pursuit beguiled,
Living his unspoiled days mid flowers and flocks and herds!

(from Ode to a Butterfly, by Thomas Wentworth Higginson)

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The Mint Moth ((Pyrausta purpuralis, Purpurrote Z√ľnsler) featured in my April post has also been around again, very happy on the Marjoram, which has been flowering all month and has attracted so many bees and other insects…

MintMoth

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Another flying wonder (although not a butterfly but I’m using poetic licence here to include it!) was this dragonfly: the Broad-bodied Chaser dragonfly (Libellula depressa, Plattbauch). I showed you the male back in May, and in July the female spent several days in the rockery…

PlattbauchFemale

Her colouring is completely different, with no sign of the blue of the male. She really shimmered like gold in the sunlight. Don’t we have some amazingly beautiful creatures passing through our gardens!

I have also seen many of those already featured in my past Butterfly Diary posts – Peacocks, Tortoiseshells, the Marbled White and lots of Skippers.

In the UK there was apparently a Butterfly Count last week…. if anyone hears about the result, please let me know as I might miss it! Thanks! ūüôā

Please share with us the butterflies you have seen this month!

Links:

Beautiful North American Meadow Butterflies Video

Rare Blue Butterflies UK