Notes from the Garden Shed

Happy solstice - we are now at that time of year of maximum insect abundance with daylight at 17 hours and high temperatures make it an insect heaven!

The availability of insects means that everywhere is awash with flowers hoping to attract insect attention to come visit and pollinate.  So it’s temperature / insects / flowers – humans are not part of this formula!

While the gardens team have been maintaining the planters at the Rotunda restaurant besides the Regents canal in King’s Place: they’ve been treated to the sight of Dragonflies drying themselves after hatching from their underwater stage. 

Recently we’ve all been the happy recipients of warm airs from the south bumping up temperatures to over 30 degrees C. Apart from making life for gardeners one big round of watering we’re getting a bonus of one of the UK’s most exotic moths – the Hummingbird Hawkmoth.  We don’t support a very large breeding population in this country but warm airstreams from Africa bring many over the channel. As the name suggests you could mistake this moth for a humming bird (which is only found in the New World - it’s a large moth that hovers in front of flowers while it uses its long tongue to sip nectar.  If you’re luckily enough to see one then log your sighting with the butterfly Conservation website

Another insect worth watching out for is the UK largest beetle the aptly named Stag beetle. The male in the picture (identified by the large ‘horns’) was found near Greenwich Park.  If you find one you can record your sighting here. 

Of course it’s not just insects that are busy – the local King’s Cross Mallard duck population seem to have taken a liking to our planters for their nesting sites. When there is good local feeding (the Regents canal) Mallard ducks will often choose really inappropriate nesting sites just to be close.   The one in the pictures is right up in a roof garden.  Somebody is going to have fun getting them to the canal when they hatch!

Fact of the Month:

Bumblebees don’t swarm! Sometimes large numbers of male Tree bumblebees (Bombus hypnorum) can be seen dancing around outside a nest in summer competing for a chance to mate – this is called a drone cloud (not a swarm) and it’s a bit like the equivalent of a bumblebee night club!

Happy summer to one and all !