2012 Summer

Bees and hoverflies in late August



Late August and the teasel still in flower. Here's a bee trying to get a meal - its tongue can be seen in the right hand image. It must have difficulty with the spines - maybe it's impaled itself and can't get off?

And below is wild carrot and friends in the meadow, also late August. The blue colour, out of focus, in the upper image is clear sky, an uncommon sight this summer. Both sets of images by Linda Ford / Living Field.



Dyes, meadow and maize

Taken in the last week of August, looking south across the bed of dye plants, the top photograph shows dyer's chamomile and dyer's coreopsis in the foreground, the meadow just visible as a light brown mass to the middle right and hedges of mixed local species converging towards the centre of the picture. 



Bottom left is taken looking north west into the meadow across the flowering composite head of a wild carrot. Bottom right is a small plot of maize that suffered in the cool and wet of summer, but is still standing and might produce a few cobs.  The maize, as a tropical and sub-tropical species, was grown this year to complement nine 'local' cereal species and landraces - local in having been grown in Scotland at least some time over the past 5000 years. (Photographs by Ford/Living Field.)


Whorls and hoverflies

The perennial dye plants put in over the last two years, in the north-east section of the east garden, are now mostly well grown, and even the spring-planted annual dyes survived this year's poor weather to grow into mature individuals that are now flowering and fruiting. The dye plants, now rarely if ever grown as crops in this part of the world, offer a feast for many flying insects in August. The photographs of the perennial dyer's chamomile (also yellow chamomile) Anthemis tinctoria, shown below with visitors, were taken on 14 August by Linda Ford of the Living Field team.



Anthemis tinctoria is one of the vast composite family, now called Asteraceae. Each floral head consists of many individual flowers or florets, usually arranged in spirals. The flowers on the outside in this species - the ray florets - have large 'petals' that ring the head (which is about 2 cm across). The ranks of flowers do not open at the same time and visiting insects, mostly bees and hoverflies at this time of year, are choosy about which part of the head they target for food. The hoverflies in the photographs, about 1 cm long, look like a species of Helophilus (probably H. pendulus).


Long term legume beds

The legumes planted earlier this year in the raised beds in the west garden have mostly taken well and most are in flower and pod. The images below, taken by Linda Ford, show the plants and a close-up of the flowering head of sainfoin Onobrychis sativa (left) and alsike clover Trifolium hybridum (right).



Many such nitrogen-fixing legumes have been sown and cultivated during the past few centuries on land for animal grazing, but they are rarely seen now. Will they find favour again given the expected rise in cost of nitrogen fertiliser?


Field scabious and bees

By mid June, the oxeye daisy had receded, while the field scabious Knautia arvensis had come to full flowering. And by late June, the hundreds of field scabious flower heads  became alive with a mass of bumble bees and other pollinating insects. Everywhere you looked at the bobbing heads, bees were there, testing and sampling before moving on. The field scabious will remain in flower for the rest of the summer, providing a reliable source of pollen and colour as other meadow plants in sequence pass through flowering to seeding.



Photographs above - field scabious heads in flower in the meadow (upper); part of flower showing pollen-bearing anthers, each held by a filament about one-tenth of a millimeter thick (middle left); flower head in bud, about 3 cm across (lower left); and the rest, bees visiting flowers.


Meadow in late May, early June

Among the first plants to push up vigorous shoots in the meadow are field scabious Knautia arvensis, meadow clary Salvia pratensis, oxeye daisy Leucanthemum vulgare and several grasses including cock's foot Dactylis glomerata,  crested dog's-tail Cynosurus cristatus and some fescues. All of these are in flower from late May, well before the meadow as a whole has extended to its full height. The buds and flowers of field scabious and ox-eye daisy, in particular, provide delicate flesh for the increasing number of insects that live in and around the garden through the summer.



In the images above, taken early June, oxeye daisy is growing among  several grasses and vegetative shoots of lady's bedstraw Galium verum

Of the many legumes - those plants that fix nitrogen from the air - that have come into the garden, the common vetch Vicia sativa has been increasing these past few years to become the first flowering legume throughout the meadow and grassy areas. It tends to occur singly or in small patches in among taller plants, clinging to them by its tendrils, in threes at the end of each compound leaf. The flower, top left in the set below is 1 cm across and the compound leaf with its seven pairs of leaflets tipped by three tendrils is about 15 long.




All photographs - Living Field collection.


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