Plants, Pollinators, Wildlife

From black and white to colour

Yesterday’s wander into the garden brought the colour back, a break from the black and white view indoors. A spot of plant rearranging in the front garden was restful on the eyes too, a break from fine detailed drawing with a fountain pen. Don’t get me wrong, despite the hours it will take, I’m loving the drawing project I’m committed to complete. In contrast, sitting watching the wildlife buzzing around with a camera on my knee felt like I was on holiday! Our gardens really can transport us to somewhere else.

Marmalade Hoverflies were what caught my eye yesterday and kept me in colour mode for the whole weekend. I’ve seen hoverflies buzz about allium flowers for years but this weekend they were visiting everything that had pollen! They were out in the sunshine, in shady corners, in groups together and mixed with bees and flies. On watching them closely, they do appear to be sociable insects. They weren’t chasing each other off and happily fed very close to each other.

Expect the unexpected, I’ve always loved that about gardenwatching over the years. So many surprise sightings have come along when looking for/at something else. I had popped by the pots near the pond to see how a new plant introduction was doing yesterday. I’m a bit late to introduce this pollinator plant magnet to the garden, the salvia, but it properly caught my attention at a garden centre recently when it had a Six-spot Burnet feeding on it. I had never seen one of these before! Yesterday’s surprises were in the border behind the salvia pots. Daylilies abuzz with hoverflies, not something I’d seen before and the first sighting of the Painted lady butterfly for 2021.

Other butterflies seen over the weekend included the small white and the even smaller small copper. Peacocks and small tortoiseshells were spotted too. although no more than two per species. As for bees, who I find tricky to ID despite the books I have bought, there was a wide variety of both them and the hoverflies. So many insects were seen, some very tiny too. I sat with my camera mesmerised, just watching. Below is a small selection from the photos taken.

Almost open flowers of the daylily, Hemerocallis ‘Pardon Me’ attracting marmalade hoverflies.
Marmalade hoverfly feeding on nectar of daylily, Hemerocallis ‘Pardon Me‘. Note the pollen spread.
A Painted Lady butterfly feeding on nectar of tiny buddleja flowers behind the daylily.
Red tailed bumble bee feeding on nectar of tiny flowers of allium millenium.
Carder bee feeding on nectar of perennial, cranesbill gernanium, Rozanne.
Marmalade hoverflies feeding on nectar of Japanese Anemone ‘September Charm’.
Marmalade hoverflies feeding on nectar of tubular Agapanthus flowers, must find label.
Bumblebee feeding on nectar or Salvia ‘Sallyfun Deep Ocean’.
Small white butterfly feeding on nectar of Coreopsis ‘Walberton’s Flying Saucers’.

Coreopsis ‘Walberton’s Flying Saucers’ has been another recent addition to the garden. Oh my, oh my, what a great discovery this plant has been too! Pondside in a small raised bed it’s another pollinator magnet. Wow, what a surprise this has plant this has been. Over the weekend it has seen a huge variety of pollinators, with bees probably topping the species count. Growing to a height of 35cm (14in) it’s perfect beside my pond allowing a great view from my Arbour seat whilst at the same time not obstructing the pond view. It’s quite a compact plant too so should withstand a bit of wind.

Allium ‘Millenium’ is the other top here for numbers of pollinators seen at any one time. I’ve mentioned this before. It was a great find in a garden centre too. It is establishing well in the back garden and seems happy where it is. Looking for more of this plant, I picked up bare rooted allium millenium plants online earlier in the year. They came well packed and in good condition, hence the link. I potted them up until I decided where to put them. Half have gone in the back garden with the other now supplying more nectar in the front garden alongside the sedums who cope very well with the very sunny and open area. The front area was just buzzing this afternoon! Although July is said to be the flowering time, we still get them flowering here in August.

Flying saucers though, well the label suggests it will flower non-stop from June to November! If it does will be brilliant for late flyers, I suspect we will be more like October here if we are lucky. Time will tell if we will have this late splash of golden-yellow colour in the garden. Despite the label saying it’s completely hardy, I may protect it over winter, just as a precaution here in Scotland. I really don’t want to lose this plant now I have it. Moving plants around the garden is something I’ve always done but on this occasion, I feel I’ve got the right plant in the right place for my back garden. Time will tell there too. As you can probably guess, I just love it!

Progress of fountain pen ink drawing of tree, bottom half, feeding this blogger’s attention.

So finally to the black and white part of this blog post, the drawing that will be keeping me from blogging. It’s certainly going to be a labour of love, that’s for sure! It’s one of the trees at Edinburgh Botanical Gardens, from a phone photo taken at the bottom looking up through it. I love drawing texture with a pen and there’s nothing better for this, to my mind, than the bark of an old tree. I am quite literally, drawn to them. I always have been. Haha, my OH jokes about me hugging trees, I don’t, I’m just in awe at their character that develops with age.

This tree is the biggest drawing I have ever taken on. My hope is, that the time taken to complete it reflects the ongoing commitment my local art club have shown to their members throughout Covid times. They won’t be alone with this I know. They have kept the spirit of art going and kept a positive outlook for getting back together as a group. Although my drawing won’t be for sale, it will be part of their exhibition later in the year. I do hope I manage to complete it in time and am comfortable it will be good enough. However, I’m seeing it as an artwork in support of a group of dedicated people, so my goal is to complete it for them.

From health to services of every kind, there are millions of dedicated people that have kept our lives going, quite literally, during this unprecedented time we have found ourselves in. We will be eternally grateful for all they’ve done. Small clubs will now play their part as they begin to safely reopen. Changes in how they operate is to be expected for a while yet, but getting back together in these small groups will be just massive to so many, especially to those living alone. I’d like to wish them and their members well for the future.

I do hope this finds you well and perhaps trying out new plants and creative activities? Maybe you are returning to old ones as I have with drawing? Do share them and your favourite plants for pollinators in the comments below. I’m just loving those flying saucers!! I’m also loving drawing more and more. It’s back to black and white for me tomorrow, taking colour breaks in the garden. Sending my very best wishes to you all 😊

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch on August 15th 2021.

3 thoughts on “From black and white to colour

    1. Hello again Sue, yes I agree about catching hoverflies or any insects in flight. Continuous shoot and luck come into play for me here, I was delighted these images reflected what I was watching. Lot’s to look through after, but then when ones like these are captured its a nice surprise 😊

      I’m glad you liked the tree bark too, I have to confess my photo reference gets me lost at times but at this scale that’s not a problem. I’m working on small sections at a time at the moment but that will change as I go up the tree. I’m looking forward to reaching the top section, lots of twists in the texture there 😊

  1. Beautiful photos as always Shirl of both flowers and pollinators. Your black and white line drawing looks so intricate and must require great patience. You are most talented indeed.

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