Life in the Highlands

Hello and thank you for looking at my Blog...i hope you enjoy my site. I'm pretty new to this but hope to keep it all updated with the progress of my garden. I've really enjoyed being able to start everything from scratch and the hard work has been worthwhile. I hope you enjoy seeing my progress too! Feel free to leave comments it's always nice to get feedback.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

July 2007

The weather has been appalling. I could've cried when i returned at the weekend. The grass was ankle high and the weeds were growing apace. It's a struggle to get outside with the weather and working away and to keep on top of things at the moment.

There are some highlights though. My first strawberry was picked and it is big and luscious. I haven't netted them yet but noticed that another red juicy one had been at the mercy of the birds. The frame is all ready to go on the strawberries and i just need to staple the netting to the frame which was built as a nice surprise for my return by OH.

The pots are starting to fill out now but they need some sun to bring them to their best. The rain is welcome but they are really looking a little rain bruised in parts but they are adding a lot of colour to the garden.

Another delight was that my nasturtiums which i planted from seed sent to me from a fellow gardener are doing great, they are in full bloom now. I also noticed that my nasturtiums from last year had self seeded around the apple trees but are a tad behind my tubs. Despite today being a cool and windy day there was one determined bee working the nasturtiums.

Those that know me well know i have a fascination for bees and wasps and often sit and watch them at work in the garden. I have taken the time to try and understand the role each visitor to my garden understanding what they do helps me to live in harmony with them. I have to say that wasps usually get a bad press being persecuted just because they can sting more than once. I can state in all honesty i have only been stung once by a wasp, other stings i have received have been by bees, and if i'm being honest it's been my own fault each time in all cases so I have the utmost respect for wasps and bees.

Blackie's bench is worked by wasps who use their strong jaws to take the wood, rolling it into a papier mache ball to take back and build a nest. This is a dead give away for a nest nearby. Wasps chew wood pulp from sheds, fences, eaves or barge boards or other wooden structures on or about the house. Try to watch their flight paths and where they disappear to and come from this will give you an indication of where the nests are. They are relatively docile unless attacked; a wasp will normally only use its sting to defend itself, the nest or to subdue prey.

Wasps build a new byke each year usually in the spring, they never use an old byke. Then come the autumn the wasps all die off and the queen will go into hibernation. When you see how much effort they put in and how much wood they collect to make a byke you wouldn't want to destroy one. I would encourage anyone to think twice before getting rid of a byke unnecessarily. What? I hear you cry - has she taken leave of her senses? Well, no, actually. Wasps are hard working gardener's assistants, eating insects, caterpillars and other nasties. They do have a useful role scavenging for the larvae of other insects, controlling garden pests and clearing carcasses early in the season. They even dispose of rotten timber. You may do well to actually encourage wasps in the garden as they do a good job of culling greenfly and other aphids.

Late summer is when the workers indulge in sweet substances - fruit, jams, syrups etc. and this is when they start being a nuisance as they search for sweet food, and whilst not particularly hostile, they will sting if aggravated.

As the cooler weather comes, the wasps become drowsy and more irritable, and this is not helped by them feeding on over-ripe fruit. They are better left alone when like this but then so would you if you had a hang over!

So perhaps we should give the wasp a break...afterall every being on earth has it's place in the ecosystem and work together......even wasps.

Happy gardening!

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Blogger Mark said...

Hi Ziggywigs,Great post on wasps, it just goes to show they are much more immportant than gardeners think. I dont think though that many people will hear this message as all they can think about is being buzzed by them, it still gives me the shivers when one flies around you and you just stand still till it goes away.

Cheers Mark

1:26 AM  
Blogger Ziggywigs said...

Thanks Mark....i think most folk get spooked when they are buzzing around OH included LOL. I actually don't stand still....i find they 'buzz' off quicker that way LOL but it's taken years to develop the nochalant attitude I must say.

2:26 AM  
Blogger Alyssa said...

Hi Ziggy - Beautiful, beautiful nasturtiums! I didn't get any in this year and your post made me really regret it. Love those bright warm colors.

I'm also a wasp fan. We have different kinds here - don't know their "real" names though. Last year we had large elliptical shaped nests hanging from small shrubby trees. It was fun to watch them constantly coming and going. To our consternation some creature - I think a raccoon- tore them up and ate the wasps and larva! They are beautiful with the different layers of color. There are also paper wasps with their many -celled homes hanging by one tiny strand and the mud daubers who make the more solitary homes.

I've been stung once by a wasp but there is a type of bee around this area that is quite determined and territorial. They had built a home in my perennial garden and after being stung a few times I wised up and stayed away from that end of the garden for the rest of the summer. They aren't there this year thankfully!

Another interesting post.


3:33 AM  
Blogger Ziggywigs said...

Hi Alyssa, I've never seen paper wasps here, i've read about them and they look very different to our native wasps.

We have hornets in England which are very big and seem very persistent and will hunt you down I wonder if this is the same thing. They are so loud, big and brash that they strike terror into the hardiest of us....they sound similar in temperament to the ones you've described.

A friend says that our wasp stings are nothing compares to bites by fire ants....they sound pretty nasty from her description...she had a bad experience whilst in the Caribbean with fire ants.

4:03 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Very interesting info about the wasps. I've never heard of a nest referred to as a 'byke'. Is that term only used for wasps in the Highlands? I like your attitude about bees and wasps. They really do play an important part in the garden. We have paper wasps here as well. I like them because they are rather docile.

Your nasturtiums are so colorful. What a spirit-booster that would be in any garden. :-)

BTW, thank you again for tagging me for the meme. I was finally able to finish my list. Hope I did it correctly.

Have a very good week!

Happy Gardening!

9:30 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Great post, Ziigywigs. I didn't realise wasps did quite so much good! :-)

10:25 AM  
Blogger Ziggywigs said...

Thanks Dawn and Chris.

Dawn - as far as i know Byke is a term used throughout the UK. Not sure where it comes from though.

12:23 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Hi Ziggywigs,
Just thought i would let you know i have nominated you for a Schmoozer...

Cheers Mark

9:36 PM  
Blogger Ziggywigs said...

Liking the schmoozer award...thank you for nominating me Mark. It made me smile at the description. Now i've the difficult task of nominating some others....decisions, decisions. It's tough to do there's so many to choose from. :-)

12:35 AM  
Blogger Matron said...

Very interesting about the wasps! I just noticed some scraping patterns on my wooden allotment gate - now I know what they are. They will certainly be eating my plums by now! Come have a look at my blog and tell me what you think?

12:38 PM  
Blogger Owin & Irena said...

hello ziggywigs. I never thought wasps could be so interesting. great posting. lovely nasturtiums too.

12:25 AM  
Blogger Ziggywigs said...

Thanks, Matron for your nice comments, had a peek at your blog and it's a great site. Lots of useful info.

1:05 AM  
Blogger Ziggywigs said...

Thanks Owin and Irena, i just love watching nature i find it very soothing. Pleased you found out about your mystery tree.

1:05 AM  
Blogger maggie said...

The nasturtiums look great! I think they are by far my favorite annual, and I love how they self-seed! mine are also spreading about the yard all on their own. My strawberries just started ripening last week and its about mid-august here in Portland! we've had a bit of a cool summer though, the tomatoes just started changing color in my yard in the last few days. Also love the bit about wasps!

1:53 AM  

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