Category Archives: garden

The plum tree designed by wasps, for wasps


I have a gripe with plum trees.

I have two trees, a Victoria and a Cambridge Gage, and I must say this year has been the best I’ve ever had. There are no grubs inside, which was a problem last year affecting the majority of fruit, the Victoria’s are as large as a hens eggs and deliciously sweet, and the Cambridge Gage tree is so bountiful the branches are bending over and touching the ground.

So what’s the problem? The problem is that the plums drop from the tree over two weeks and they don’t store. On top of that, I’ve been eating so many that I have developed permanent stomach ache! (No problems with constipation relating to my painful coccyx then!!!)

I hate the waste. I don’t eat jam, I’m not a big fan of chutney, and all of my friends have trees of their own. Maybe I could make plum sauce, but I am hopeless in the kitchen! So the only choice I have is to freeze them. They are suppose to freeze okay, even whole, but since it’s a new experience, I’m not entirely certain they won’t go to mush.

Having taken a very small percentage, and having given some to the very excited chickens, the rest have fallen to the ground for the wasps, a few honey bees, and the butterflies. The wasps, in particular are in heaven, and don’t even react when I accidentally pick one up in plum. At least they’re happy. Perhaps the tree is not such a poor design after all.





The kissing and canoodling pigeon

Pigeon’s are such common birds that I have taken them a little bit for granted . . . until earlier this summer. Every evening, they would sit in the same spot, upon a strip of wood above my lounge window. They were so obviously into each other that I couldn’t help but take note.

Aside from the very regular mating, they would spend much of the evening with the necks entwined and the beaks together. They looked like a couple of teenagers on a date, kissing and canoodling. It was very sweet.

I was so fascinated by their behaviour that I decided to learn a bit about them, and discovered that their entwined necks was preening, and the locked beaks was something known as billing, where the female puts her beak into the males beak. It’s all part of the courtship behaviour, and so I surmised, they were ‘in love.’

Given that their behaviour was different to many, very promiscuous, garden birds, I wondered if they were monogamous. I checked online, and discovered I was right; pigeons do mate for life and they have a strong bond. The courtship display is a regular occurrence, reaffirming and reinforcing their relationship.

Unfortunately, I’m sad to say, this story does not have a happy ending. About four weeks ago two pigeons became one. I don’t know what happened, but I fear she (or maybe he) perished. Every night, the lonely male sits in the same spot, and scans his territory, seemingly unhappy, cooing softly and looking for his mate.

Of course, she could be on a nest, but I fear too much time has past without a sighting. I can always hope . . .

An Insect Heaven – The Privet Hedge


Here in the UK, the privet hedge is often tightly pruned and not encouraged to flower. What a mistake! It is one of the most beautiful flowering shrubs I have come across.

Aside from the scent, which is delightful and drifts across the garden and into my nostrils, it is an amazing place to find a huge range of insects, from the tiniest flies through to the bees and butterflies. Unfortunately my snapshot camera is not good enough to capture them, but believe me, they are there, and they are in their hundreds.

The tortoiseshell butterflies are the most common, with the Red Admiral a close second. I have also seen the Privet Hawk-Moth in the garden, which is not surprising since the caterpillars feed on the leaves. As for the bees, I have, of course, seen honey bees (since I have multiple hives), and an assortment of bumblebees, from the very small to the large and furry. I’d love to know all the species I’ve spotted, but as yet, I haven’t had a chance to get my books out. However, I think I have seen the tree bumblebee, with a ginger head and white pointed tail. It’s an exciting find since it is an invasive species, arriving to the UK just 13 years ago. It’ll be great to have confirmation.

So, I’m going to get back out there, books in hand, and see what I can identify. It’s the first year it has flowered, all 100 hundred metres of it, and I look forward to for many more years.

Here’s to a beautiful and often underrated plant, The Privet.