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.
My chickens have this crazy idea that I have digging the vegetable bed in their very large pen purely for their benefit. I accept I am animal mad, and I do do wacky things at times, but I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t sacrifice worms for the sake of keeping my hens happy. On second thoughts . . .
The chickens have a pen approximately one third of an acre which is almost entirely their own. I say, almost, because there is a large vegetable bed at one end, with soil that is well drained and loamy, and it has proven perfect for growing potatoes. Once the plants are established, the chickens leave them alone, making them an ideal chicken companion! The problem is getting them into the ground in the first place.
Here’s what happened.
As soon as I pass through the gate, they run towards me. If I don’t stay ahead of them, some of the hens will get in front on me, blocking my way forward and preventing my movement. So I have to be quick, and trot to the vegetable bed. The hens run along behind. It is quite a sight. I feel like the Pied Piper.
The girls recognise my garden fork, and even before I start, the excitement is building. They’ve seen it all before and know what’s coming; they cluck and peck, asserting dominance and striving for prime position. They have one thing on their mind, worms!
My intention was to dig four trenches, add the potatoes, water them, and cover them up, first with soil and then with a fleece cover. It wasn’t so easy.
I make my first hole but the hens block my view of the soil; I am digging blind, and know from the excited cries, that the first worms have been taken. As a distraction, I move further along the row and continue digging. Despite my very slow progress, partly because I had to be careful with the fork so as not to stab a chicken, I reach the end of the row.
Wanting to assess my work, I step back and wait for the girls to drift away. They have filled in the trench! Would you believe it? All my hard work for nothing! All I have done is help the girls find breakfast! A new plan was needed. I decide the only way I was going to manage it was to dig a hole, plant a potato, cover it up, and so on.
Despite the kafuffle, it worked. Job done.
One question remains. Have I planted the potatoes evenly and in straight rows? I doubt it, since I couldn’t really tell what I was doing. If anyone asks, I do not have a drinking problem, nor do I need my eyes tested. I simply had chickens to contend with . . . chickens with greedy appetites and bulging crops!