Six on Saturday: 31 July 2021: Save the insects!

A bumblebee enjoys the Oregano

It’s been a week of gusty winds and unsettled weather, but also of good-ish news: double-vaccinated EU residents are finally going to be allowed to travel to England without the need to quarantine, allowing families (like ours) to reunite. Except for anyone coming from or going through France to reach the shores of Albion, which we do. We’re told this is because there are cases of the beta variant of Covid-19 on Reunion, an island in the Indian Ocean which happens to be an overseas French territory. Now I know we’ve been fighting wars with the French for much of our history, and there’s a bit of a love-hate thing going on, with recent seismic events testing the love a little bit, but surely this is going trop loin?

I’ll leave you to ponder that and move on to the less testy and altogether more wholesome Six on Saturday, as hosted with aplomb every week by The Propagator. Here are my favourites this week:

1 Oregano. A great nectar-provider at this time of year, the bees have really been enjoying it, as have the cabbage white butterflies. We also enjoy it, especially in an omelette or with tomatoes (it’s a lot less fussy than basil).

2. Bee beetle (Trichius gallicus) on Leucanthemum. I’ve downloaded a new app to help me identify insects, and have found one that also logs observations on a website for scientific monitoring (for Belgian readers check out Waarnemingen). Given how much trouble insects are in, especially after the cold spring we had this year, and the effects of climate change on weather, this seems like a good idea. This sweet little beetle is apparently relatively common and a native species, though it’s the first time I’ve seen one.

3. Salvias. I’ve developed quite the little collection of these wonderful plants: they’re long-flowering, disease-resistant, aromatic, pretty and excellent nectar providers from summer through to autumn. British gardener Sarah Raven claims that if you plant these next to roses, the roses won’t suffer from blackspot. I’ve put a few near my roses to see what happens and will report back to you on the results, but even if it doesn’t work, these plants are useful to extend the interest of the shorter rose-flowering season and are great for insects. I couldn’t decide which to feature, so here’s a gallery of my favourites flowering now in the garden.

4. Aconitum henryi ‘Sparks Variety’. The intense blue of this aconite is quite compelling, I find. I had another aconite that flowered in the spring, which was less branching than this one and a touch lighter in colour, and had confused them: it seems I have somehow got two different varieties, not sure how that happened!

5 Hydrangea paniculata ‘Vanille Fraise’. It’s been a great year for the water-loving hydrangeas, after all they’ve had plenty of it! They are brimming with health and vigour, as this one demonstrates.

6 Vegetables. The first cucumber is about ready to pick, don’t you think? Last week I had to remove all the tomatoes because of blight, but the cucumber has really enjoyed this year’s humidity and is climbing up the wall as if it plans to go visit the neighbour. The sweetcorn is also looking promising, as are the Thai Red Dragon chilli peppers.

We’re off on holiday next week, so I might not be posting for a little while. I just hope the designated care-takers keep chickens, cat and seedlings of biennials and veg alive. Have a great weekend, may the weather be kind to you and hope to catch up with you again soon.

35 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: 31 July 2021: Save the insects!

  1. The insects will be very happy with all the flowers in your garden 🙂 Nice cucumbers and the chilli peppers are doing fine. With this weather the plants will not suffer from your absence. Enjoy your holiday Sel 😉

  2. Lovely salivas, I have Caradonna growing in between my roses and they both have black spot! It’s only a young plant, so hopefully once it has bulked up it will do better. I assume if you fly or take a train to the UK you won’t have to quarantine? It’s all very silly here. As per normal 😳

    1. Haha, I did wonder if the rose-salvia miracle cure was too good to be true! Flying would be a colossal pain but if we have to, we will. They might still change their minds about this bizarre policy, as seems to be the way!

  3. Trop loin indeed, I thought the Hundred Years war was re-commencing! I hope you and the family get to re-unite soon. I loved Fred’s Vanille Fraise on Twitter this week, now you have me wondering why I went for ‘Limelight’! Black spot rife here too, but then I didn’t grow ‘Armistad’ with the ‘Darcy Bussell’ this year. Have a great holiday and ‘see’ you soon.

    1. My first thought was also ferry but they have stopped the Ostend route sadly. There are ferries from the Netherlands but they are code red. So it’s flying or waiting for a policy change! Hope you find a bee beatle 🙂

  4. I’ve never seen a bee beetle. It’s very cute indeed and I love the colour of that aconite and the salvias. My mother-in-law is developing quite a salvia collection and some of them have become huge (I took a few cuttings last year and those that I didn’t drop on the floor are about to flower). Enjoy your holiday.

  5. Yes I do have a lot of bees but dont know what they are called. Oh how nice to grow cucumber they look delicious enjoy love the salvia. Flying is complex now with all the testing and delays hope France will be ok for crossing by car the best way.
    Enjoy your holiday

  6. You’re absolutely right, let’s save the insects! And by sowing a lot of flowers here and there… of course..
    You too, your ‘Vanille Fraise’ is at the vanilla stage like mine. The flower clusters are very big this year : . your opinion?
    Have a good family vacation.

  7. What a fascinating beetle! Your insect app sounds fun and educational. I just got a bird app to ID by audio and I love it. Your flowers are so exquisitely healthy and verdant. The white hydrangea is gorgeous!! I hope you’ll give us an update on your experiment with the sages next to the roses. Hope you have a wonderful vacation!

  8. I hope you enjoy your holiday. The information about beta only being on Reunion has made the Telegraph newspaper over here, so the government will be under pressure to justify their stance.
    Only a more plant related note, I love the deep purple salvias and the dark blue Aconitum. I’ll have a go at growing some oregano as I do love a bit of basil in my tomato salad but it would be great to have something easier to grow.

    1. Good news re possible travel changes, fingers crossed. Oregano looks after itself and also keeps going so much longer, well into autumn. So, a great basil substitute.

  9. I too love Salvia for the same reasons! They are the one plant that can be relied upon to give a wonderful show of colour during summer. You have a great selection! Happy holidays to you. Have a wonderful time.

  10. My planting salvia next to roses experience has been inconclusive. Although we’ve had a very wet summer. One rose has worse than usual black spot and its close neighbour has none. But the salvia are very well and growing heartily! Good luck with your travel plans. I’m hoping to visit family in the UK and Brussels in October and just hope the travel complications have improved by then.

    1. Interesting to hear re your experiment, though inconclusive, indeed it’s been a very wet year here too for the roses so black spot aplenty. Fingers crossed for easier travel 🤞

  11. Enjoy the holier, a chara!
    Salvias are indeed a wonderful addition to a garden. I like the Amethyst Lips. I’ve got Hot Lips… not me personally… A shrewd market seller suggested I should buy it for Marion! And I did.

  12. Hi Sel. Hope you are enjoying your holiday. It was lovely to see your salvia collection. I have a few different ones this year too for the first time, which I found online. Nachtvlinder, Royal Bumble and Amethyst Lips are among them. 😃 The Aconite is also a gorgeous deep blue. 😃

  13. Insects in my garden are having a field day with nasturtiums, runner beans, roses, apple trees and all the brassica. (Are caterpillars insects?) The oregano is very pretty, mine is just coming onto flower too. Have a good holiday.

  14. Oregano is super popular with pollinators, though I find it is also an aggressive speader! Hope you get to see your family in the UK soon. Maybe there could be secret submarines to drop people on beaches, as with Allied agents during ww2.

    1. Secret submarine sounds like an easier way to get ashore than dealing with current regulations, am drowning in paperwork and forms, but looks like we can get across next week.

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