Summer days: butterflies, blight and Banksy

Guide to common butterflies in Belgium

Things are rarely entirely good or entirely bad, and so it is with summer in Belgium this year. On the bad side, we had the terrible weather and the terrible flooding in parts of the country. The clean-up is going to be long and expensive. Plus, we still have the confusion and uncertainty over how and when we can get to the motherland for our longed-for visit to see friends and family, and just imbibe our culture for a while. I want fish and chips, and a dip in the channel, and a lazy Sunday morning with the papers.

A Red Admiral on Buddleia

The garden brings its share of good and bad too. The sad news here is that, perhaps unsurprisingly given the unprecedented wet and humidity of previous weeks, blight has struck. I’ve got to this point in my gardening life without ever having had to lose a tomato plant to this fungal disease which can devastate entire countries, as happened during the Irish potato famine. So it was with a heavy heart that I pulled out several plants and binned them before the problem got any worse. I also had to harvest all the potatoes rather too early, they were also affected. I’ve left the tomatoes with the best-developed fruits, removing most of the leaves, to see if they can ripen nice and quickly. Has anyone dealt with Blight successfully? Am I doing the right thing? Advice appreciated.

Tomatoes ripening

Good news in the garden includes:

A frog has moved into our new pond (bad news: the cat has discovered this and has to be repeated chased off with the hose…grrrrr).

The great tit family has successfully reared its young and they have fledged the nest. The youngsters are hanging around the garden excitedly chirping as their parents teach them how to survive in the big, bad world (bad news: the cat is harassing them, grrrrr).

Butterfly counting has commenced. A local charity is asking members to identify and count those that visit their gardens. They have sent a helpful identification guide which I’ve pinned to the fridge (bad news: French common names for butterflies are nothing like the English ones. Good news: my French vocabulary is expanding into yet another new area).

A Red Admiral

It’s good to see Red Admiral (French: Vulcain) and Peacock (French: Paon du jour) visiting the Buddleia davidii ‘Black night’ that I planted specifically to attract butterflies.

Peacock butterfly and a Red Admiral feeding

The cabbage whites (French: Piéride du Chou – at least that’s easy, as chou is cabbage) are also here, quite a lot of those. They are particularly enjoying the lavender and oregano, and also like the flowering privet. Luckily I don’t grow cabbages.

A Cabbage White butterfly feeds on oregano

As well as a month for butterflies, July is also the month of the sales in the shops. My son and I have been fully inoculated against these after visiting a Banksy exhibition in Brussels recently. One of the key messages of the British street artist is that worshipping at the altar of consumer capitalism is going to get us into an awful lot of trouble. A better occupation might be to count the butterflies.

A work by Banksy

Here’s to flower power.

A work by Banksy: one of his most iconic images

Finally, here’s a little slideshow of what’s flowering well this month in the garden.

Are you also counting butterflies in your garden or out in the countryside? Have you noticed numbers going up or down, or fewer types than before?

18 thoughts on “Summer days: butterflies, blight and Banksy

  1. Blight on potatoes is always a threat here and we have sprayed on a few years but generally take our chances. We had a small spot of it this year – just two plants and I removed them and the rest were grand.

      1. That’s what I’ve found but, of course, if blight conditions continue so will the danger. We will regularly have forecasts for blight conditions in our television weather programmes.

  2. Good luck with the cat! We’ve been scaring one here away from the baby quail. (I normally am a fan of the cat – it hunts gophers! but it is not at all welcome near the quail chicks….!)

    1. I personally love cats and have probably been a bit too welcoming towards them but it’s devastating when they go for other creatures we also love (gophers excepted…one problem we don’t have!).

  3. Sorry to hear of the rain’s effect on your tomatoes and potatoes, Sel. All that bad weather has really caused much woe there. On the brighter side, it is good to see that you have butterflies visiting your garden. We are also seeing a few. I hope that you removed all the blighted plants and the rest of your vegetables thrive.

    1. Thanks Steve, ups and downs, that’s the way it goes. Am still hoping to get a few tomatoes from plants that are less affected 🤞If that fails, there will be other crops to come 🙂

  4. Sorry to hear about the blight. My problem is that my tomatoes aren’t growing! I have about run out of patience and about to compost them. Never had this problem before, but this is my first time using peat free compost. As for butterflies I have not seen many at all. Red Admirals and a few whites so far.

    1. Oh no, that’s annoying re your toms! I also had a bit of difficulty with peat free compost, I tried begonias in it and their rate of growth is very very slow. I think it needs cutting with other things like soil and extra feed e.g. chicken manure pellets as it hasn’t got the same organic density as peat? Not sure if it boils down to nutrition or texture but it might also depend on what peat is substituted for…

  5. Cats and frogs don’t match, that’s for sure 🙂 How sad to read about the sickness (blight).
    Is it a problem to travel to GB when you are vaccinates (2 times) and have a corona passport ?
    I think I heard that the GB is no longer a red zone and there are no restrictions anymore (or am I wrong).

    1. In its wisdom the British government allows double vaccinated Brits to travel back from Amber list countries (like Belgium) but at the moment only accepts proof of it from the British health service and not EU-corona vaccination certificates. In any case I am still awaiting my second vaccine which will be next week. Let’s see what happens after that 🤞🙏🏻

  6. Such a shame that blight has spoilt some of your veg. Luckily mine have been spared and there is also barely any mildew too. Butterfly numbers here are suddenly rocketing since the rain stopped! Mostly only peacocks and cabbage whites, but the rest will come I am sure. Love the dahlia in your slideshow. 😃

  7. Oh dear I’m sorry to hear about the blight! Hope your saved tomatoes are ripening ok. Lovely to see your butterflies. We occasionally have red admirals here too, but the peacock butterflies are new to me. Lovely to see. We had our biggest population of pipevine swallowtails here this year, and a great many gulf fritillaries around the passionflower vine. I laughed out loud about the kitty and the frog, although I’m sure the froggie was laughing. 🙂 Cute cat.

  8. So sorry about the blight but yay for the frog! We also have red admirals here but no peacocks. However, there are usually a couple of swallowtails and monarchs fluttering about the garden these days. Glad to hear you are getting vaccinated.

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