Our garden in August is a bright, colourful place full of lush growth, rich scent and so much wildlife to enjoy. Our wild birds are mostly quiet at present as August is the time when they hide away as they go through their annual moult. They have gone to ground and gone silent.
Above our heads however avian activity is busy and exciting. The Swallows and House Martins are feeding up in anticipation of their migration south. The sky is full of them, but the screaching of Swifts is absent as they began their own long journey a few weeks ago. For a few days there is a gap in the sounds – we miss them for their excited calls and aerial displays.
The calls of the young Buzzards can be heard above the Swallows and Martins, as they excitedly search out thermals and discover the joy of riding them. The Peregrines have reappeared now that their breeding season is over so we can watch the adult pairs rising in ever-higher circles until they disappear from view. Our eyes become incapable of seeing them as they become smaller, become dots and are then gone. They have the luxury of far better long distance vision than us – they will see the movement of their prey from hundreds of feet up in the air. A real treat is to spot them as they stoop, travelling down at speeds of over 200 miles per hour with a pigeon in their sights.
Yesterday when deadheading in one of our borders we were surprised by a low-flying, high speed Green Woodpecker who zoomed close to us, just a few feet away. A real treat!
Insect life is flourishing. On any warm bright day a variety of insects can be seen hunting out nectar and pollen. Butterflies, bees and hoverflies are attracted to Buddleias, Alliums, Salvias, Nepetas, Lavenders and Echinops. There are so many Peacock Butterflies around at the moment but you can’t have too many of them. The Holly Blues are much scarcer and flit continuously rarely seeming to settle.
Bees and hoverflies are attracted to our Lavender hedge which borders the lane which passes in front of our garden.
The ponds are full of life with shoals of young fish basking in the shallows, diving Beetles and Boatmen moving up to the surface and back to the bottom regularly. On the surface Pondskaters pace out the length and breadth of the pond surface. Young newts regularly appear at the surface take a gulp of air and drop back down. When Jude the Undergardener nets the duckweed and blanket weed from the pond she catches newts every time. She is delighted with every newt that graces her net. I am convinced that removing the weed is an excuse for her newt catching exploits. In August the majority of newts Jude catches are youngsters.
The front garden is looking good! So much colour! The Hot Border is HOT!
The “Beth Chatto Garden”, our gravel garden, is full of interest with Agapanthus taking centre stage. These Agapanthus were actually bought from the Beth Chattos Gardens nursery.
Early in August the front garden was dominated by yellow – even Jude the Undergardener was wearing yellow – but after a few weeks all the other colours caught up.
In the back garden the growth in our Secret Garden is exuberant to say the least. The foxgloves are going over but the achilleas, lychnis and alliums are still giving us a full performance.
Elsewhere in the borders of the back garden the seedheads of our Snakebark Acer add rich reds, Crocosmias give every shade of yellow, orange and red, Achilleas add subtlety and the spiky Erigeron flowers provide silver.
In the greenhouse tomatoes, cucumbers and capsicums are adding sweetness and freshness to the cut-and-come-again mixed leaves of ours summer salads.
The world beyond our garden is changing this month as in our borrowed landscape the hay in the paddock has been cut and baled and the wheat fields turn gold and are being harvested one by one. By the time my September garden wander comes around the skys will seem empty as the Swallows and Martins will be on their way to warmer climes, but the garden will be getting busier with mixed feeding flocks of titmice and Goldcrests, and others of mixed finches.