Barcelona – Jardin de Montjuic

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Below the Miro Foundation a formal park covers the hillside down towards the city.

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Designed by French landscape architect Jean-Cluade Nicolas Forestier, who seems to have designed parks in major cities across the world, the garden contains an abundance of water features, particularly several waterfalls which take advantage of the steep hillside on which the park is situated.

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I think one of the children had just ‘got’ TBH here, and revenge was on the cards.

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Teatre Lliure.

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Then we were back to the Gothic Quarter in the centre of the city for one final sight-seeing stop for the day….

Barcelona – Jardin de Montjuic

More Garden Critters

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Common Blue Damselfly

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Very common in our garden on this particular sunny day. There were a couple of larger dragonflies quartering the airspace above the garden, but they weren’t so obliging in posing for photos as the damselflies.

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Green Shield Bug.

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Bumble-bee. Bombus….Pascuorum? Perhaps.

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Flowering Currant leaf on a fern.

The flowering currant in the bottom corner of our garden doesn’t look very well. I don’t think that it appreciates the shade it sits in beneath the large hazel.

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Another Bumble-bee. Bombus…Humilis?

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And another Bumble. Bombus…Horturum? (To be honest, I don’t have much of a clue.)

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This looks like another specimen of the dapper fly that had me confused a few weeks ago. It looks quite like the Empis Tessallata in my field guide, but when I search for images on t’internet the resemblance isn’t half so strong. So I’m stumped.

Still having lots of fun with my new(ish) camera however.

More Garden Critters

A Sunny Day in the Garden

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The title pretty much says it all.

I’m a lazy and intermittent gardener. Benign neglect is my modus operandi. It’s not much of a surprise then that we have a lot of weeds. But when those ‘weeds’ are aquilegia vulgaris, or Columbine, well frankly, the more the merrier.

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Spotted this LBJ calmly preening itself beneath the beech hedge. A juvenile Linnet?

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This was back in early June. In between occasional bouts of pretending to be purposefully engaged with some or other garden task, I spent many happy moments pursuing insects with my camera. The Green Alkanet (another weed) was flowering profusely and seemed to be particularly popular with Honey Bees.

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There were bumblebees about too, but they were popping in and out of less open flowers – foxgloves for instance – and so were proving to be much more elusive to photograph.

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I think that this is a 16-spot ladybird. Feeds on mildew apparently.

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Warm days in the garden have been far and few between this summer and we haven’t seen either the same number or variety of butterflies as we would usually expect to encounter.

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Over by the compost bins this dapper fly…

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..was sunning itself on a broad leaf. I suspect that it’s a hoverfly, maybe menalostoma scalare.

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Or not. Opinions, as ever, always welcome.

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Meanwhile, in the compost heap itself something was sprouting…

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(And, you can perhaps tell, something had dug a substantial burrow through from one side to the other.)

All of our vegetable peelings and trimmings go into the compost; it seems a few bits of potato peel were sufficient to produce a number of new plants. So I took the lid off the compost and left it open, to see what would happen. More of which anon, no doubt.

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All of the family were pottering in the garden. A had put my Mum to work weeding in her designated section of the beds. My Dad chose to enjoy the sunshine. (That’s the alkanet behind him. Some of it anyway) But eventually I enlisted him to help with the barbecue with which we rounded off the day:

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A Sunny Day in the Garden

Roe Deer

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When we got home from our trip to Roa Island it was to discover one more wildlife treat awaiting us – a pair of roe deer in the garden.

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Deer visit from time to time. Sometimes they sleep on our lawn. We’d seen them a few times recently, but it was pleasing that they visited whilst our guests were still with us – putting on a show as it were.

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The slightly scruffy look is because they are shedding their darker, winter coat in anticipation of warmer weather (which we are still anticipating patiently).

Roe Deer

Pottering in the Garden

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‘Other stuff’ again. Now I’m not much of a gardener; I have occasional bursts of enthusiasm, but I don’t generally have enough patience , and anyway, I’d rather be out and about walking and gawking. These days, however, we have a magic box at the bottom of our garden, which has, much to my surprise, quite captivated me. It’s ‘magic’ because you put stuff in it and, miraculously, said stuff is totally transformed. You can see the box above: it’s quite a simple machine, given that it can bring about metamorphoses. TBH bought the kit it was built from, and my Dad put it together – I think I may have helped him a bit. I made the lid though, from a large sheet of marine ply we had lying about, the end of a roll of roofing felt and a few off-cuts of wood. (I’m very far from being ‘handy’ and am therefore disproportionately proud of that improvised lid, even though I’m not convinced of its merits in use.)

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Here it is with the lid-off. This compartment’s contents are still undergoing the transformative process., whereas the other side…

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…still has a little of the finished article from last year. I’ve been sieving it – I’m not really sure if that’s necessary – and then trying to find places to use it, principally so that I can have this bin back to fill again.

The ‘active’ side is gratifyingly full of life; particularly these wriggly red worms. I was a bit surprised to find that we have several species of earthworm in the UK. These might be brandling worms, but then again, they might not be. The differences seem quite subtle to me.

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There’s lots of other life here too: woodlice, centipedes and in the summer months, far too many diptera. (Diptera = two wings: flies – I thought if I gave them a Latin name I might feel more charitable toward them. It didn’t work.) B and I have both seen a vole in and around the compost. Once, when I was turning the pile, the vole jumped up on to the edge of the box and then sat and looked at me for a while, before languidly leaping down and disappearing into the adjacent hedgebottom.

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All around the compost bins this plant sends up flower-stalks first, then leaves which will eventually become quite large. It’s a very vigorous plant, but I don’t know what it is.

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Any thoughts?

Nearby there’s also a patch of comfrey, which is just beginning to flower. It’s extremely invasive, but according to Dave Goulson the flowers are loaded with lots of nectar, which explains their popularity with bees and more than justifies their place. I’ve read that comfrey is ideal for making liquid fertiliser too, but haven’t tried that yet.

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The garden is a bit ahead of surrounding woods and hedgerows, with lots of things coming into bloom: snowdrops and crocuses and daffs obviously, pansies and spring-flowering heathers, hellebores…

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..and the yellow buds on the forsythia are just beginning to open…

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I did know what this bush…

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…is called too I’m sure, but the name has escaped me.

There’s usually a few birds about in the garden. We often have pigeons, although, sadly, they seem to be particularly vulnerable to our cats

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This one was photographed during a short late-afternoon stroll down to The Cove and across the Lots.

Pottering in the Garden

Another Interlude

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“I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.”

Jerome K. Jerome

Another instance of the boys finding something fascinating in the garden and fetching me and my camera to enjoy it.

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Watching this spider deftly spin this wasp, well half of a wasp I think, and neatly wrap it in silk was really something.

Here’s one which was already hanging in the larder to season….

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Of course, once one thing has attracted my attention and has me gleefully snapping away, I’m inclined to start to look to see what else I can find. There were lots of hoverflies about, but I was more interested in this harvestman….

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…mainly because, until quite recently, I didn’t know that they existed. Not a spider, but related, it doesn’t produce silk, so can’t spin a web, nor does it have fangs, but it catches small prey using hooks on its long legs.

This forest bug, photographed on a different day, had a lucky escape – I was pruning a hazel which grows a good deal faster than the beech hedge it has invaded and so can often look a bit like a straggly cuckoo-in-the-nest when I spotted this bug on the underside of a leaf, just as I was about to shove it into the shredder.

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Another Interlude

Interlude – Garden Entomology

Remember the potter’s wheel? I do which is a bit odd, since when I looked it up, I found that it was shown on the BBC in the 1950s and I’m not old enough to remember that far back.

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This post is the blog equivalent of those short interlude films – a bit of filler before another proper post comes along. I think the beeb could bring their interludes back – couldn’t be any worse than half of what’s on telly already.

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If they did, mind, it would be The Great British Pot Throw-Off or some such. Like the Generation Game, but po-faced. Instead of five minutes of images with some light classical music, we’d get an hour of tedium, probably with an over-the-top voice-over in an attempt to rack-up the non-existent tension.

Hoverfly 

It could be presented and judged by a ‘national treasure’ -  Grayson Perry seems ideally qualified.

Enough of that – I’ve never watched those competition programmes – baking, dancing, skating, tumbling, diving etc – so my rant is based entirely on supposition about just how dreadful they might be, if they’re at all like I imagine them to be. 

Having holidayed at home this summer, we had the chance to spend a fair bit of time in the garden. Often I was cooking on the barbecue when I was out there, but one particularly warm, sunny day, I had a happy half hour photographing butterflies and other bugs which were on and around a buddleia bush.

Red Admiral III 

Apparently, the name of the red admiral may refer to the butterflies resemblance to an ensign or naval flag, raised when an admiral is aboard a ship.

The Red Admiral’s scientific name Vanessa is one of science’s in-jokes. The original Vanessa was the nickname of a teenage girl tutored by Jonathon Swift and was based on her real name of Hester Vanhombrugh, that is, ‘Van-ester’. It seems that she and Swift had an affair and that he celebrated her ‘bright looks’ in his poem ‘Cadmus and Vanessa’.

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I assume that this is a large white. Although I often see white butterflies skittering about, they seem reluctant to pose for photos and they are one of my numerous blind-spots when it comes to identifying the various species.

Larg white + bumblebee in flight 

Apparently, in Lincolnshire, during the Napoleonic wars, they were known as Frenchmen, presumably lumped in with the enemy due to the damage their caterpillars do to cabbages and other brassicas.

Peacock I 

The peacock used to be know as the peacock’s tail.

The Peacock’s scientific name, Inachis io, alludes to an ancient myth which explains the origin of the peacock’s tail. Io was a seduced nymph, the daughter of King Inachus. In order to disguise Io from his wife’s prying eyes, Jupiter turned her into a heifer. Io, still helplessly lovely and desirable even in the form of a cow, was given to the care of Argus, a heavenly herdsman whose hundred eyes made escape impossible. At length, her father discovered Io grazing in a field. The winged god Mercury helped her to escape by telling Argus a long and immensely boring story that resulted in every one of his eyes closing in sleep. Then, rather unsportingly, Mercury got out his sword and cut his head off. This displeased Jupiter’s wife, but she managed to collect all of Argus’s eyes and attached them to her favourite bird, the peacock, ‘covering its tail with jewelled stars’.

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Comma

The lovely comma, with it’s raggedy edged wings, is named for that small white punctuation mark on the underside of its wings. In France it’s called Robert le Diable because of the shape of its wings. It’s something of a success story, which makes a nice change: it’s spreading northwards at a rate of ten kilometres a year.

That’s it – interlude over for now. Are any of your one hundred eyes still open, Argus?

The quotations above, and much of the other information, come from Bugs Britannica by Richard Marren and Richard Mabey. I haven’t delved into that as often as I have into its companion volumes Flora Britannica and Birds Britannica, but I can see that I need to rectify that error.

I read that the Northen Lights may possibly be visible unusually far south tomorrow night. Keep your eyes peeled.

Interlude – Garden Entomology