school garden

school garden

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Hawkers and Darters

A few minutes relaxation sat at the pond this morning paid off. Within minutes a new species of dragonfly for the school garden was seen and photographed - a Migrant Hawker- and then a male Common Darter arrived and set up territory on the large pebbles. Within seconds a second male Common Darter arrived and for some ten minutes or so these two male darter dragonflies battled it out to see who would keep the territory.

A speedy chase was made to catch up with the Migrant Hawker as it frequently sped around the garden before returning to the pond. It was photographed trying to hide on one of the sunflower stems.

The male Migrant Hawker

Detail of the thorax - the yellow wine glass shape clinches the identification

The male Common Darter
Away from the pond the pumpkins continue to dominate the garden. There are several very large pumpkins now. I am not sure who is going to claim what when the competition comes round!

As the summer slowly slides into autumn the flowers around the pond are all but disappearing, Still  left in full bloom are the water mint (still looking for that elusive little green beetle), Purple Loosestrife, Great Willow-herb and the handsome Angelica


Angelica is a widely used herb. The stems can be candied - they are delicious! Try one straight out of the jar if your mum will let you. The plant is also used for bronchial and digestive problems, blood enrichment, rheumatism, arthritis and even influenza. It was once even thought to cure the plague.

Water Mint

Great Willow-herb

The magnificent flower of the Great Willow-herb

Finally you cannot help but admire those pond skaters. Wonderful insects which balance their life on the cusp of 'above and below' water.  A close look  at their legs reveals that they do not actually stand on the water but sit on bended knees.

Pond Skater -on bended knees! (click to enlarge photograph)

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Don't look behind you............

The gourds have escaped the confines of the greenhouse. Having filled up one half of the greenhouse completely they are making a bid for freedom as the pictures below show.

In the greenhouse the yellow hibiscus is going from strength to strength

The gourds are not the only plants which expanding their range. One of the runners from the pumpkin plants has grown through the tree mallow and now is about to cross the path.

Finally, remember the bees which had moved into the bamboo on the insect house? They have now finished there. They have laid their eggs in the tubes and sealed them with pollen mixture for the newly hatched larva to feed on. You can see the sealed ends- they are greeny-yellow in the right hand picture.

       The left hand picture shows the bamboo just as the bees moved in.  The bees have been very busy since then. We have not yet  had time to establish the species of the bee but we have good field notes and some pictures so hopefully it will not be too long before we can identify them. They may well be Red Mason Bees-  a friendly species which do a lot of good work in gardens and orchards

Finally this afternoon there were several Southern Aeshna (Hawker) dragonflies in the school garden.  They were feeding around the pond and also under the branches of the sycamore trees - where they often perch for a while and rest up. They were too quick to photograph!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Jersey Tiger Moth

Walking up towards the greenhouse this morning a brilliant flash of colour left the sweet pea plants on one of the classroom plots. It was a Jersey Tiger moth

 These pictures are from the internet. No time to get the camera out! For some years the stronghold for this fairly scarce moth were the Channel Islands, Devon and then west Dorset but in recent years it has spread quickly across Southern England. It flies in August along the Dorset coast from West Bay to Portland  but there have been inland sightings in the county as far north as Maiden Newton and Yetminster and even into Somerset. It has even been seen in London.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The Pumpkin Patch

After a few good heavy showers the pumpkin plants have gone wild. They have sent out flowering runners which now extend beyond the plot where they were planted. Clearly the Holy Trinity School compost which was dug into the soil before the pumpkins were planted is working like magic!

A magnificent flower on one of the pumpkin plants

In the greenhouse the rice plants are now nearly two feet tall and we are ever hopeful that we will soon see the rice flowering. A week or so of good warm weather should help.  The hibiscus  is looking good with large yellow trumpet shaped flowers

The Hibiscus flower

And finally the sweetcorn plants are now producing some cobs. Hopefully by the start of next term we will see a lot more on the plants

Sweet Corn cobs

Monday, 1 August 2011

Wierd or what?

The photo shows a leaf seen in the National Trust garden of Thomas Hardy at Max Gate just outside Dorchester. I have no idea what it is and a brief google search has not come up with anything useful. Not all the leaves of the tree were affected and some more than others.Perhaps it is a parasite of some sort. There was nothing evident on the other side of the leaf. The wonders of nature!