indian summer

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It was a beautiful day today, a little glimpse of what an Indian summer could be, if only the next set of storms wasn’t due this weekend. It was very pleasant working on the allotment, with the sounds of foraging honeybees still finding the borage intoxicating and the warmth of the sun still carrying all the memories  of summer.

I like working the land at this season. After the recent rain my clay is at its most workable. Weeds come out easily, the newly planted cabbage plants positively purred at their new surroundings, the neighbouring plots are riotously flowery, with cultivated plants or weeds, depending on which way I look. At home the rudbeckias continue their starry perfomance-they have been fabulous this season.

A little garden tidying  finished the day, amongst the dahlias and the sedum and their visitors. I looked for leafcutter bees, but there is no sign of them now. There are 22 sealed nest cells in the older birch log and 11 in the new one, all made by Megachile Willoughbiella females. Inside the leaf cells the bees will already be hatched, but they will sit the winter out and the Spring and not emerge until next June. There are 8 sealed cells of the smaller leaf cutter species in another bee house and a staggering 70 plus mason bee nests in the drilled blocks. A good season, thanks to the lovely Spring.

And yet. And yet, despite the warmth of the day, the brightness of the blooms, the hum of bees, the coolness of the mornings and the leaves on the lawn are already whispering winter. That, and the Christmas crackers on sale at the garden centre this morning.

the gallop of Spring

There’s a month gone by in the shaking of lamb’s tails. Daffs are going over, primroses coming out. Things have been mostly of an outdoors nature here at Spider Acres for the last few weeks, getting the allotment ready for planting and of course, doing that planting. Every year I forget what labour it is to get the potatoes in, but they are now, mostly, as are the onions, shallots, peas and broad beans, beetroot, parsnips and carrots.

When not allotmenteering I have been gardening, making the most of the glorious weather we have had for a couple of weeks. It has been a pleasure to share both places with the newly emerged bees-bumbles and solitaries, all busy looking for nesting sites and pollinating the abundance of blossom as they refuel for that main purpose. One of the rarer cuckoo bees has turned up in the garden. This is Melecta albifons-no common name but handsomely spotted. It is feeding on Lungwort, Pulmonaria saccharata, as does the lovely Hairy Footed Flower bee that it parasitises. They have been here too.

The allotment site, with its large areas of flowering dead nettle, is proving to be a rich hunting ground for bees  like the beautiful Andrena flavipes below, and a little colony of something tiny , not as yet identified , is nesting under my white currant. I wonder if this constitutes keeping livestock, which is strictly prohibited on our allotments?