Back from my two week stay in England for my dad’s funeral (he was 97 and still growing leeks from seed; I planted them posthumously!) and being with my mum. The growth in the garden has been phenomenal with a heat wave (over 30C), 24 hour light and plentiful rainfall. I have much work ahead of me tidying up overgrown paths!
Harvested nettles of the almost stingless Urtica kiovensis for dinner and found this red admiral caterpillar!
Monardas are autumn flowering here and one of the best plant genera for pollinating insects at this time of year, including bumble bees and butterflies. Over the last few days with relatively mild weather there have been at least 10 red admiral butterflies in the garden:
By chance, the best two plants in the garden for pollinating insects in late summer are growing together in the garden. The Clematis vitalba (old man’s beard / tysk klematis) is in the foreground in the picture below and is popular with hoverflies, droneflies and bumblebees. Behind is my largest (of 3 Buddlejas, butterfly bush /sommerfuglbusk). We had one when we were growing up in the back garden, where my interest in insects and nature started. As the name suggests, it is most popular with butterflies (and moths), but bumble bees are also commonly seen on it. The Clematis reaches up to the balcony which allows me to study the insects at close hand. Clematis vitalba was planted in the garden as the cooked young shoots are commonly eaten in spring in Italy and is therefore one of the best edientomentals (edible/for the insects/ornamental) you can plant. Buddleja davidii is not edible and is in the entomental category. Although the total number of butterflies is lower this year as last year we experienced a major invasion of painted lady (tistelsommerfugl) butterflies (only 2 observations in the last month in this part of Norway), there is a good diversity of species and you’ll find pictures and videos of the following species below: Red admiral / admiral (up to 4) Small tortoiseshell / neslesommerfugl (7) Dark green fritillary / aglajaperlemorvinge (1) Brimstone / sitronsommerfugl (colonising this area and my 3rd record this summer) Comma / hvit C Small white? / liten kålsommerfugl Green-veined whites / rapssommerfugl have also been very common this year. A possible small blue (dvergblåvinge) was also seen in the garden on Allium wallichii on 21st August.
With only a few inflorescences left on my Buddleja plants, the red admiral and painted lady (tistelsommerfugl) butterflies are transferring their attentions to other flowers in the garden, notably and most importantly Eupatorum cannabinum (hemp agrimony / hjortetrøst, seed of which came original from the banks of the River Itchen in Hampshire). Other flowers of choice at the moment are Anise hyssop (Agastache), Monarda and Marigold.
In the first video, the Red Admiral defends its hemp agrimony flower against a bumblebee!
There are record numbers of butterflies in the garden at the moment, crowding on the last Buddleja flowers. A few days ago, I counted 35 butterflies, about equal numbers of painted ladies (tistelsommerfugl) and red admirals (admiral) with a few small tortoiseshells (neslesommerfugl) as well as a lot of silver y moths (gammafly). All are seen in this video taken from my balcony which overlooks the largest Buddleja.
After a very cold start to the summer, Malvik has had record warm weather over the last month which has helped the populations of butterflies! They love my edible garden and, in particular, peacock (dagpåfugløy) has been recorded more times than anywhere else in this area, half of the total of 15 observations were made here between 2006-2010. Hoping for the first peacock since then! The favourite plants at the moment are my two Buddleja davidii (sommerfuglbusk, sadly only edible for insects as far as I know), one of which is bigger than ever as I didn’t prune it last winter. In the last few days I’ve noted up to 20 small tortoiseshell (neslesommerfugl), 1 painted lady (tistelsommerfugl), up to 7 red admirals (admiral), 1 dark green fritillary (aglajaperlemorvinge; I think, a first here) and 2 comma butterflies (hvit C).
Perennial vegetables, Edimentals (plants that are edible and ornamental) and other goings on in The Edible Garden