An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Late Summer

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Late Summer

Hello, and welcome to my wildlife pond at the end of August.  I find peace and solace in nature and I love spending time by our wildlife pond.  Usually my visits are fleeting, lasting just a few minutes, but these short burst of connection with plants and wildlife revitalise and recharge me, instantly eliminating all the stresses of life.  It’s a wonderful feeling; I am always excited about my next visit to my wildlife pond!

I’ve not managed to take any pictures of dragonflies or damselflies since my last update.  I’ve not seen quite as many of these dazzling insects as usual.  The tantalising glimpses I’ve had of the dragonflies and damselflies around my wildlife pond have either been when I’ve observed them from a distance, or during brief but wonderful encounters when the insects didn’t wish to remain still for long enough to have their picture taken.

I assume that the drop in dragonfly and damselfly numbers around my wildlife pond was due to this summer’s inclement weather affecting these invertebrates as they emerged from the water for the first time.  Before a mature dragonfly (or damselfly) larvae can moult and take off their old, brown leathery jacket, ready to emerge as a fully-formed, dashing dragonfly, they’ll crawl up a stem and move out of the water.  Above the water line, the mature dragonfly nymph begins the fascinating process of pushing themselves out of their old skin; this exhausting operation can take the insect anywhere from an hour to up to a number of hours, depending on the species.  At this stage of their lives, dragonflies and damselflies rely on having a period of dry weather, as they’re particularly vulnerable while they’re shedding their protective outer skin.  These insects are still defenceless for quite some time after they’ve emerged; as their brand-new dragonfly tissue is soft and delicate at first – it needs time to dry and harden, before they’re ready to take their maiden flights.

We’ve endured some crazy weather this year.  I’m really hoping for some extra opportunities to bask in the warmth of the sunshine by my wildlife pond and enjoy a few more flowers before the autumn weather breezes in.

Growing aquatic plants for wildlife

Here’s another view of my wildlife pond on the 25th July 2021. Ranunculus flammula (yellow), Myosotis scorpioides alba (white), Mimulus Ringens (purple), and Pontederia cordata alba (white – near the ivy) are all currently flowering in my wildlife pond. Honeysuckle and Clematis, along with a range of perennials are flowering in the border around my pond. All of these plants produce single flowers that are accessible to bees, butterflies, and other insects.

Ranunculus flammula has been such a delight in my wildlife pond this summer.  This aquatic plant started flowering in the middle of May 2021, producing a sprinkling of sunshine-yellow flowers that gleamed in the sunlight.  The number of dainty star-like blooms gradually increased until Ranunculus flammula had pumped our wildlife pond full of hundreds of twinkling flowers!  Today, at the end of August, this charming fellow is past his peak, but Ranunculus flammula is still holding on tightly to its cheerful chorus of blooms; these flowers sing out on overcast days and sparkle in the sunshine.

This white-flowered Water Forget-me-not is also known by its botanical name, Myosotis scorpioides alba. This is a dainty aquatic plant, it’s ever so pretty and is blessed with a long flowering period. Pictured on the 25th July 2021.

When I visit our pond, I almost always observe at least a couple of bees, hoverflies, and other pollinating insects buzzing around the Ranunculus flammula flowers.  The blooms sometimes dip under the extra weight when a heavier insect touches down on the flower and then spring back up as the pollinator launches itself into the air ready for its next conquest.

The aquatic plants in my pond are never crawling with bees and other insects, but they receive a constant, steady stream of visitors.  Currently, in our pond, the Ranunculus flammula and Myosotis scorpiodes alba flowers are the most popular aquatic plants for insects to visit.  Bees, hoverflies, wasps, and other insects arrive at the pond to access the water and take a drink.  Earlier this summer, solitary bees collected mud from from around the perimeter of the pond; I’d quietly watch the bees fly off with as much damp soil as they could carry, ready to finish building their nests in the boxes we’ve added along the sunniest side of the fence.

So far, I haven’t spotted any insects visiting the Mimulus ringens flowers.  I bought this aquatic plant specifically because I was told that it was a superb plant for insects, but I’ve not noticed any activity whatsoever around this aquatic plant.  Maybe all the action happens when I am not there!

A look across my wildlife pond, as pictured on the 15th August 2021. At the front of this picture are the purple flowers of Mimulus ringens, which is cosying up to the white flowers of Myosotis scorpioides alba.

My waterlilies have been too shaded to flower.  My rhubarb and the other plants I’m growing in the narrow border around my pond have grown very nicely indeed; they’ve produced lots of leafy growth, which has shaded the perimeter of the pond.  Whilst the aquatic plants have thrived in the water and now cover the surface of the pond, preventing as much light and warmth from penetrating into the water.

For my waterlilies, the problems they’ve experienced include too much competition from neighbouring plants, not enough fertiliser, and not enough light, but another contributing factor could also be the fact that the waterlilies’ leaves were damaged during the many hailstorms we had in late spring and early summer.  These storms delivered the largest hailstones I’ve ever seen – the solid white lumps of ice really felt like pebbles as they aggressively pounded my little patch of earth.  Afterwards, my garden was covered with a layer of ice that took a while to melt.  Hailstones damaged many of the plants grown for the Trials I was running at the time, which was intensely frustrating!

It’s often surprising to gardeners but I think it’s important to remember that even ancient flowers still offer so much value to wildlife. Here’s a hoverfly known as Myathropa florea enjoying a Caltha palustris alba bloom. Pictured on the 25th August 2021.

I’ve included this scrappy looking picture above, as a reminder that our aquatic plants still hold a great value to wildlife as they fade.  Last September, I watched a female dragonfly carefully laying eggs on the leaves of some of the aquatic plants in this pond.  Traditional gardening advice recommends removing all the faded leaves of aquatic plants in autumn, to prevent the foliage enriching the water.  However, I leave all of the browning foliage on my aquatic plants until springtime; I’ll eventually remove the decomposing plant matter just as the new growth is ready to push through in early spring.  The remnants of these plants offer food and shelter to dragonflies, insects, and various forms of wildlife.

How effective are the natural methods I’m using to control blanket weed algae in my wildlife pond?

Here’s a closer look at the unappetising soupy swampy looking water in this area of my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 4th August 2021.

There’s still a surprising amount of algae in my wildlife pond.  I’ve not tried to physically remove any of the algae, as I don’t want to risk disturbing or harming the young newts, or the damselfly and dragonfly larvae, and any other wildlife that’s living in the water.  The last time I used my net was in March 2021, when I dipped the net into the pond water just once and found a number of dragonfly larvae, which I quickly returned to the water!

Here’s another look at the swampiest part of my wildlife pond, this time at a different time of day to show you the algae in a contrasting light – it’s still just as swampy! Pictured on the 7th August 2021.

The only actions I have taken to control the algae in my wildlife pond are to add packets of barley straw to the water and to administer the same weekly natural algae treatment that I have been using for quite sometime.

I must say that feel uneasy adding the netted barley straw, just incase the netting accidentally traps a dragonfly larvae or a young newt, but I’m told this is how the packs are intended to be used and I’ve been assured that they’re safe for wildlife ponds.

The yellow flowers you see floating in the algae infested water of my wildlife pond have fallen from the Verbascum nigrum plants that are growing at the water’s edge. You might also be able to make out two or more bags of barley straw in the water. In addition, I am also using a natural algae treatment which is administered every week in the promise of controlling algae. It’s not had any noticeable effect so far! Pictured on the 7th August 2021.

Previously, in times of drought, when the water levels in my wildlife pond dropped, I used to top up the pond water with both tap water and rainwater.  I have now stopped using tap water entirely, and I only add rainwater to my pond.

I have a dedicated water butt attached to my shed and its water is only used to fill up the pond.  I must say that I haven’t needed to top up my pond very often this summer, as we’ve had such high rainfall!

Over the weekend, we topped up the pond using water from one of our water butts. This is rainwater that we collected from our shed roof over the past couple of weeks. We emptied the full water butt into our wildlife pond. Pictured on the 22nd August 2021.

Yikes! Look at this amalgamation of algae in my wildlife pond. It looks as if it’s bubbling up! Pictured on the 25th August 2021.

I’ve continued adding weekly treatments of Ecopond Eco-friendly Barley-Bio Algae Control, as this product is reputed to control algae.  I’m not aware of any improvements in the concentration of algae in my wildlife pond, but as I have already purchased this product and it’s safe for wildlife, I’ve continued using it.

Algae and duckweed are common problems in garden ponds. Both are exacerbated by high levels of nitrogen in the water. In the past, I’ve always filled up my ponds with rainwater, but when I was filling up this pond for the first time I took the advice of a pond specialist and used tap water. If I had a time machine, I would go back and use rainwater, as this helps to create a healthier environment. Pictured on the 25th August 2021.

I’m showing you the worst pictures I can of the algae, but there are areas of clear water around the pond, with opportunities to peak through the water at the underwater world ruled by newts, and damselfly and dragonfly larvae.

Although there’s algae in my pond, there are areas of clear water that are free from algae; however the duckweed is spreading! I’ve not tried to combat the duckweed, as I haven’t dared to dip my net into the water since March 2021, as I don’t want to risk harming any of the newts or damselfly and dragonfly larvae that are developing in the water. The ferny-leaved aquatic plant is Myriophyllum brasiliensis. Pictured on the 25th August 2021.

How to control dratted duckweed!

There are a few Caltha palustris alba and Myosotis scorpioides alba flowers in amongst the duckweed in this picture from the 22nd August 2021.

I am not certain what species of duckweed I’m unintentionally cultivating in my wildlife pond, but this miniature plant is steadily growing.  This is exactly what I expected, as duckweed will determinedly send out new baby plants in all directions, as speedily as it can.  If you’ve got one of these tiny plants, you’ll soon have more!

In this picture, you can see the duckweed growing in amongst the Myosotis scorpioides and Myriophyllum brasiliensis plants growing in my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 22nd August 2021.

When I first set this pond up, I installed a pond skimmer, which very effectively sucked up any leaves (or duckweed) on the surface of the water.  I banished this product from my wildlife pond when my husband discovered a dead newt trapped in the collection basket.  Since we removed this piece of apparatus, the duckweed seemingly popped up out of nowhere to colonise our wildlife pond.  I expect the duckweed was brought in on the feet of birds and other garden visitors, who had been on a pond expedition and visited a pond with duckweed, earlier the same day.

I don’t want to have any duckweed in my pond, but without a pond skimmer, using my net, or taking some form of physical action, I am unable to effectively wish this plant away.  I need to clear this plant by hand religiously every week in order to have a chance of controlling this pesky aquatic plant!

If you’ve got duckweed in your pond, take care as you remove this plant by hand.  Look out for any dragonfly nymphs while you’re lifting the duckweed out of the water.  I find that it’s easier to spot something moving in amongst the plants while there is some water in the net, so we dip the net in the water while we examine the contents.

Be mindful of where you deposit your gathered duckweed.  Usually, I advise leaving leaves or detritus at the edge of the pond, as this allows any creatures the opportunity to escape back into the water; however, with duckweed, if you leave these plants at the side of the water, the chances are that at least a small number of these plants will be moved by birds, newts, or wind and rain, and as a consequence the duckweed will return to repopulate your pond.  Instead, check the net over thoroughly while making your collection.  I like to dip the net into the water and examine the contents, thoroughly checking for signs of movement and then I deposit the duckweed away from the water.  Duckweed can be safely added to your compost heap.

Duckweed is a small but intensely powerful aquatic plant. These plants produce new babies at incredible speed, enabling the plant colony to double in size every few days! This picture also shows the tips of Myriophyllum brasiliensis’ ferny foliage reaching out of the water in my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 25th August 2021.

Growing climbing plants to scent and enclose this area of my garden

Here’s a view of the fence behind my wildlife pond. Pictured are the white flowers of Clematis integrifolia alba, the blue flowers of Veronica spicata, the purple flowers of Verbena bonariensis, and the yellow flowers of Ranunculus flammula. I hope to completely cover this fence during the summer months next year. Pictured on the 25th July 2021.

This year, I’ve felt so grateful for the Clematis integrifolia alba and Clematis ‘Kaiu’ that have given the fence at the side of my wildlife pond a rather exquisite modesty cloak.  Next year, I want to create more plant cover in this area of the garden.  There are a few plants that were planted at the back of my wildlife pond when the pond was first set up, including at least three more Clematis and grapevines.  I cannot get over to this side of the pond, so I am unsure if these plants have perished, but they may just be establishing themselves.  I don’t remember seeing anything of Clematis ‘Kaiu’ last year, yet this clematis has been an absolute superstar this summer!

Rosa ‘Strawberry Hill’ in flower alongside my wildlife pond. This rose has flowered three times this summer. Pictured on the 5th August 2021.

I’m growing Rosa ‘Strawberry Hill’ up the arch in the narrow border around my wildlife pond, where it has been flowering its heart out this year!  I am particularly fond of fragrant plants; I chose this cultivar for its sweet scent that beautifully perfumes the area around my pond.

This rose’s first flush of flowers are fully double and not at all insect-friendly.  However, my ‘Strawberry Hill’ rose delivers semi-double, accessible flowers for all its successive flowerings.  This is a true delight for me, as I am so much happier growing plants with flowers that benefit bees, butterflies, moths, and other pollinating insects.  ‘Strawberry Hill’ isn’t as popular with bees as the other climbing plants I’m growing, namely: ivy (Hedera helix), honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum), Clematis ‘Kaiu’ or Clematis integrifolia alba.

Rosa ‘Strawberry Hill’ produces gorgeous strawberry-pink coloured blooms. The first flush of flowers my ‘Strawberry Hill’ rose produces always is full of double flowers without accessible pollen, but my plant’s later flowers have pollen that’s on offer and accessible to bees, hoverflies, and other pollinating insects. Pictured on the 25th August 2021.

My ivy (Hedera helix) is an absolute superstar of a plant that has formed a tall and springy, bushy hedge.  Intertwined with the ivy is honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum), another star performer around my pond, thanks to its gloriously perfumed flowers that provide nectar for bees, moths, butterflies and other pollinating insects.

I’ve also got a self-seeded bramble that I need to control and cut back (if I cannot remove it).  Brambles or blackberries are wonderful plants for wildlife.  I already have an area of brambles in another patch of my garden, so I want to grow other plants by my pond.

Magical moths!

Earlier this summer I caught this Elephant Hawk Moth in my moth trap by my wildlife pond. I love Elephant Hawk Moths, they’re everything – magnificent, graceful, and fun!

This summer I’ve attracted high numbers of Elephant Hawk Moths to the light in my moth trap by my wildlife pond.  I adore these moths; it’s almost hard to believe that something quite so magical as an Elephant Hawk Moth exists, but they do!  Elephant Hawk Moths are a widespread species; who knows maybe they fly above your home during the summer months, while they’re in flight?

Elephant Hawk Moths are utterly fascinating! Here’s a closer look at this Elephant Hawk Moth’s face.

The Elephant Hawk Moth is also known by its scientific name, Deilephila elpenor.

At this time of year, you won’t find Elephant Hawk Moths, as they’re currently in another stage of their lifecycle.  Elephant Hawk Moths can be seen travelling across our gardens as caterpillars.  Yesterday, I spotted this dear Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillar in the narrow border around my wildlife pond.  I was so excited to find this little chap!  I adore caterpillars and I’m always so happy to discover a caterpillar on the plants in my garden, especially one as special as this!

Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillars feed on Lady’s Bedstraw (Galium verum), which I am growing in the border around my pond, less than a meter from where I found this little fellow.  These fascinating caterpillars also eat Fuchsia, and Willowherbs (Epilobium).  I don’t have any Fuchsias, but I do have Willowherbs in my little garden.

This little guy is ready to pupate.  At this time of year, Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillars are on the look out for a safe area of leaf litter or soil where they can bury themselves and form a chrysalis.  They’ll stay in the soil overwinter, ready to emerge as a magnificent Elephant Hawk Moth in May or June.

I was so excited to spot this Elephant Hawk Moth Caterpillar in the narrow border around my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 26th August 2021.

I haven’t set my moth trap up many times this summer.  It’s been difficult to find a night where it looked certain to be dry, and on those dry evenings I didn’t want to steal time away from the moths’ lives.  I am conscious that moths live for a short period of time, during which they need to be able to find a mate, source food, and live; time is precious.

One thing I can wholeheartedly do is supply nectar to help moths, as I grow as many plants as I can for moths, bees, butterflies, and other insects.

Growing border plants for bees, butterflies, moths, & hoverflies!

Here’s a view of my wildlife pond, as pictured on the 25th July 2021. Inula hookeri (the yellow daisy) and Teucrium hircanicum (the small purple spires) are shining out from the front of the narrow border. Whilst Hedera helix (ivy), Lonicera periclymenum (honeysuckle), and Clematis, enclose the space at the back of my wildlife pond.

The plants in my garden have had a tough time with fairly extreme weather this year.  We endured a cold start to the year and summertime arrived late, hot on the heals of a spate of hailstorms that deposited the largest, heaviest hailstones I’ve ever seen!  By the time summer arrived, the plants had endured several stresses, including: drought, late frosts, hail and ice, cold temperatures, and low light levels.  Summer arrived with a heatwave, followed by thunder and lightening and heavy downpours.

It has been an overcast weekend with heavy downpours. The rain has weighed down these Inula hookeri flowers, causing these flowering stems to splay around. Pictured on the 25th July 2021.

Inula hookeri is a herbaceous perennial that produces large yellow daisies that are appreciated by bees and butterflies.  This Inula hookeri specimen was planted in the narrow border that surrounds my wildlife pond in spring 2019.  These plants thrive in moist soils but my plant is growing quite happily in free-draining, sandy soil.  I don’t ever water this border, yet my Inula hookeri plant is growing contentedly.

Here’s another view of my wildlife pond, as pictured on the 15th August 2021. My Rhubarb is at the front of the picture with the sunny yellow flowered Inula hookeri on the other side of the picture.

Living near wasps

I’ve got a wasps nest in another area of my garden, but I rarely see wasps by my wildlife pond. I spotted this wasp out hunting for insects on the 3rd August 2021.

We’ve currently got a wasp nest in our garden.  The nest isn’t right next to the pond, but our garden is very small in size, so it’s not far away.  If I stand near the wasp nest I can watch a constant stream of traffic as wasps enter and leave their nest.  We’ve not tried to harm the wasps or move them on; we’ve just left them alone.  I’ve only spotted a few wasps by the pond; usually I see bees, hoverflies, or butterflies in this area of my garden.

Here’s another picture of this wasp searching for insects around my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 3rd August 2021.

Bees, hoverflies, & other fascinating pollinating insects!

Inula hookeri is a lovely cheerful daisy that attracts a wide range of pollinators. Pictured on the 25th July 2021.

I adore watching bees and hoverflies as they visit the flowers I’m growing around my wildlife pond.  Here are my pictures of the bees and hoverflies I’ve seen – I hope you enjoy them!

Inula hookeri produces large sized bright yellow coloured daisies that are adored by bees, hoverflies, and butterflies. Pictured on the 25th July 2021.

Here’s some information on growing Inula hookeri.

Inula hookeri is a hardy herbaceous perennial that flowers every year. Pictured on the 25th July 2021.

Inula hookeri flowers attract many types of insects, including bumble bees, hoverflies, and butterflies. Pictured on the 25th July 2021.

Betonica officinalis ‘Hummelo’ flowers start off quite small in size; if you don’t know these plants, at the start of the season they look as if they’re a ground cover perennial. However, ‘Hummelo’ flowers soon elongate and they’ll eventually reach around 60cm (1.8ft) – so they’re not tall plants but they are useful in the border and Betonica officinalis ‘Hummelo’ are bee magnets, too!

Betonica officinalis ‘Hummelo’ is another superb bee plant. This herbaceous perennial thrives in sunshine or partial shade, in any well-drained soil.

Inula hookeri is a superb plants for bees, butterflies, hoverflies, and other insects. Pictured on the 28th July 2021.

My Stachys sylvatica plants have had their main flowering; I’ve now cut these perennials back to let other plants grow up and shine. Here’s a lone Stachys sylvatica flower that’s stuck around and flowered. These are absolutely fabulous plants for bees! Pictured on the 28th July 2021.

I spot all kinds of insects on the plants around my wildlife pond.

I just arrived at my pond when this gorgeous bumble bee arrived and headed straight for the Veronica spicata flowers in the narrow border around my wildlife pond.

Veronica spicata is a fantastic plant for bees and butterflies. Pictured on the 1st August 2021.

Inula hookeri flowers attract a wide range of pollinators, including hoverflies and other flies, as well as bees and butterflies. Pictured on the 28th July 2021.

This bee was enjoying tending to the Knautia arvensis flowers that are growing alongside my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 1st August 2021.

This bee is beautifully decorated with the sugar-plum pink coloured pollen from these Knautia arvensis flowers.

I spot all kinds of insects feeding on the Inula hookariana flowers that are growing by my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 3rd August 2021.

I was so happy to see this dear little bee feeding from this sunny Inula hookeri flower, by my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 4th August 2021.

I spotted this Common Green Bottle Fly (Lucilia sericata) feeding on the Inula hookeri flowers alongside my wildlife pond, on the 6th August 2021.

Knuatia arvensis is a wonderful plant for bees and butterflies. This plant is also known as Field Scabious. Pictured on the 10th August 2021.

It truly delights me when I see two bees sharing a flower; this happens surprisingly often! Pictured on the 10th August 2021.

I get so much pleasure from the plants I’m growing around my wildlife pond. This is Knuatia arvensis, a stunning herbaceous perennial that flowers throughout the summer and attracts a wide range of insects. This is Lasioglossum calceatum, the Common Furrow Bee. Pictured on the 10th August 2021.

Knuatia arvensis pollen is coloured in a gorgeous tones of purple and lilac. It’s hard to beat this plant if you’re looking for bee and butterfly friendly plants for your garden.

I spotted this lovely Patchwork Leaf-Cutter Bee (Megachile centuncularis) dive in to pollinate the Lotus corniculatus flowers that I’m growing alongside my wildlife pond. I took this photograph on the 11th August 2021.

Inula hookeri is a wonderful plant to grow for bees and pollinating insects! Pictured on the 11th August 2021.

Inula hookeri is a wonderful plant to grow for bees and pollinating insects! Pictured on the 11th August 2021.

A watched this bee exploring this stone that borders my wildlife pond. When choosing stones for your pond, look out for any with cavities or recesses where solitary bees or other insects can nest or shelter. Pictured on the 15th August 2021.

We’ve endured many rain showers this summer, as soon as the rain stops the insects come out to feed. I’ve taken these pictures for you during sunny intervals.

This lovely bee seemed to almost swing from flower to flower. as each bloom dipped down in response to the weight of this furry little chap’s landings. Pictured on the 12th August 2021.

Inula hookeri is a wonderful plant to grow for bees and pollinating insects! Pictured on the 11th August 2021.

I love watching bees, they’re such fascinating and endearing insects! Pictured on the 11th August 2021.

Lotus corniculatus is a superb plant for bees and butterflies. Both bees and butterflies feast upon this flower’s nectar, and these plants are also a food plant for the Common Blue Butterfly, the Green Hairstreak Butterfly, the Cryptic Wood White Butterfly, the Wood White Butterfly, the Silver-Studded Blue Butterfly, and the Dingy Skipper.

I adore seeing the different bees that come into my garden. Pictured on the 12th August 2021.

It was so lovely to watch this dear little bee frolicking from one Knuatia arvensis flower to another, around the narrow border that surrounds my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 15th August 2021.

I spotted this hoverfly on the honeysuckle by my wildlife pond. This is a male Volucella zonaria – it looks very much like a hornet, but this insect is totally harmless.

I spotted this hoverfly (Volucella zonaria) resting on the honeysuckle by my wildlife pond on the 11th August 2021. This is a large hoverfly; a hornet mimic that’s often seen at this time of year.

I watched this hoverfly hovering over this Knautia arvensis flower. Pictured on the 15th August 2021.

On the 15th August 2021, I observed this female Patchwork leaf-cutter bee (Megachile centuncularis) feasting on the nectar of a number of Inula hookeri flowers.

Knuatia arvensis is a superb plant for bright and sunny or partially shaded areas. This herbaceous perennial thrives in my free-draining, sandy soil. Pictured on the 15th August 2021.

I hold a great deal of admiration for Patchwork leaf-cutter bees (Megachile centuncularis). This is a female bee; this leaf-cutter species’ range is widespread across most of the UK.

I’ll be sorry when my Inula hookeri flowers pack up for the year. These blooms attract a wide range of insects, including bees, hoverflies, butterflies, and moths. Pictured on the 15th August 2021.

A super-cute bee pictured enjoying this Knautia arvensis flower on the 16th August 2021.

I see so many different species of bee in these Knautia arvensis flowers. Honeybees, solitary bees, and bumble bees all adore these fun flowers. Pictured on the 16th August 2021.

Of all the plants I’m growing in the narrow border that surrounds my wildlife pond, Knautia arvensis is one of the most popular plants with bees.

I love daisies! This dainty bee whizzed around the Leucanthemum vulgare flowers in the narrow birder surrounding my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 25th August 2021.

I prefer the later, more accessible flowers Rosa ‘Strawberry Hill’ produces, as I particularly enjoy growing plants that are beneficial to bees and butterflies. This isn’t a rose that bees flock to, but I’ve seen a number of bees and hoverflies enjoying these blooms. Pictured on the 26th August 2021.

I’ve whizzed you over to have a look inside this ‘Strawberry Hill’ flower where this tiny bee is enjoying the pollen! Pictured on the 25th August 2021.

This is quite an old Verbena bonariensis flowering stem. However, despite its advancing age, this stem is still providing bees with welcome refreshments. 25th August 2021.

It’s worth leaving your faded Verbena bonariensis flowers on the plant to die back over winter. These older flowers still provide nectar for bees and butterflies; after the flowers fade they will self-seed to create new plants. The faded flowering stems will provide spaces for insects to shelter and hibernate and they leave a nice imprint of happiness in my autumnal and winter garden. Pictured on the 25th August 2021.

This old Verbena bonariensis flowering stem is holding lots of old, faded flowers, but the few inflorescences that are left are still providing nectar for bees and butterflies. Pictured on the 25th August 2021.

Here’s a larger bumble bee enjoying the nectar of this Inula hookeri flower.Pictured on the 25th August 2021.

Knautia arvensis is a hardy perennial that thrives in sunshine or partial shade. I garden on very free-draining sandy soil; this Knautia flourishes without the need for any additional watering. Pictured on the 26th August 2021.

I was so happy to see this lovely honeybee feasting upon the nectar of Inula hookeri flowers. Pictured on the 25th August 2021.

This ‘Strawberry Hill’ rose was glowing in the afternoon sunshine as this tiny bee and a hoverfly arrived to explore this flower’s bounty. Pictured on the 25th August 2021.

I watched this hoverfly (a Syrphus species) enjoying the ‘Strawberry Hill’ roses by my wildlife pond, on the 25th August 2021.

If you’re growing Knautia arvensis don’t forget to dead head your flowers as they fade. I cut off the seed heads and then throw them onto an area of the garden that would benefit from having some of these pretty lilac coloured flowers! Pictured on the 26th August 2021.

Roses don’t produce any nectar but cultivars with accessible flowers produce pollen that’s available for bees, hoverflies, and other insects. Pictured on the 25th August 2021.

Growing Knautia arvensis is rather like growing happiness for bees and butterflies! Look at this beautiful bee with its colour coordinated pollen and fur. Pictured on the 26th August 2021.

I enjoy the combination of lilac and yellow and purple and yellow flowers. Many people don’t seem to like yellow flowers but there are many yellow flowered plants that are great for insects. Pictured on the 26th August 2021.

Slugs & snails

I spotted this snail hidden on the underside of one of the leaves on my ‘Strawberry Hill’ rose at the side of my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 1st August 2021.

Slugs and snails totally decimated many of the plants I grew for my latest Compost Trial, which was incredibly frustrating!  However, other than a few holes in my rhubarb leaves (which I must admit, I do quite like!) there isn’t any visible slug and snail damage on any of the plants that are growing near my wildlife pond and around this area of my garden.  I’ve seen quite a few large snails and plenty of empty snail shells, left from when a bird has caught a snail.

I don’t do anything to prevent snails or slugs from reaching the plants in the area around my wildlife pond.  I don’t relocate or move snails when I find them; I just let the snails be.  With young seedlings though it’s an entirely different matter, as their soft leaves and small size make seedlings incredibly vulnerable to slugs and snails.  If you’re worried about snails or slugs devouring your plants, check out the results of my Slug and Snail Trial to find effective and reliable methods of protecting your plants from mollusks.

I spotted this Garden Snail (Cornu aspersum) in the narrow border around my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 16th August 2021.

Spending quality time with sparrows!

Can you spot the Sparrow watching me take his picture? I was thrilled that this sweet little bird stuck around while I was so near him, next to my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 3rd August 2021.

I’ve observed so many more birds in my garden this year.  We now have a flock of Sparrows that visit the pond several times a day; which is especially lovely, as we hadn’t observed any Sparrows in this garden before these birds showed up.

I have a bird feeder over the other side of the garden, which has four large sized feeders; currently we have to top these up at least every two weeks, as the birds will empty them in this time!

There were at least five Sparrows in the ivy when I took this picture, but only one that was brave enough to come out and have his picture taken. Pictured on the 3rd August 2021.

Whatever I am doing in the garden, I am always thinking of wildlife: birds, bees, butterflies, and moths; they’re all on my mind.  I have planted some trees, but I have such a small garden that I am limited in what I can grow, due to having such a restricted space.

Another Sparrow then arrived on a mission to give advice and encouragement to the Sparrows sheltering hidden among the ivy by my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 3rd August 2021.

Ivy (Hedera helix) is an absolutely fabulous plant for birds.  It’s a wonderful plant to grow to encourage wildlife, as it supports bees, butterflies, moths, and other insects, as well as birds.

I didn’t used to see any Sparrows in my garden; they’re new visitors that this year have been visiting my garden several times a day. I usually see a group of between five and ten birds. Pictured on the 3rd August 2021.

These two Sparrows were perched at the top of the ivy by my wildlife pond, where they were acting as lockouts. Pictured on the 3rd August 2021.

I have so much affection for these Sparrows (Passer domesticus). These dear little birds swoop into the garden in large groups, eagerly chatting and surveying the area. Pictured on the 12th August 2021.

This adorable line up of Sparrows (Passer domesticus) are so endearing. I observed these birds as they took in their surroundings. Pictured on the 12th August 2021.

It was lovely to be able to get so close to these Sparrows (Passer domesticus), as they flew in to visit my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 12th August 2021.

My ivy (Hedera helix) hedge often quivers as the birds move around beneath the protection of these climbers’ leaves. Every now and then a look out will propel themselves up and sit bravely atop the plant, assessing the risk and deciding upon what the flock of Sparrows should do next. Pictured on the 16th August 2021.

Looking out for butterflies & growing butterfly plants

I watched this white butterfly feeding from the Clematis integrifolia alba flowers for a few moments before settling down to feast upon this Verbena bonariensis flower. Pictured on the 25th July 2021.

I’ve seen higher numbers of butterflies than I expected this summer, which is wonderful!  In July 2021, I found that I could take this same photograph of Cabbage White Butterflies feasting upon either the Veronica spicata or Verbena bonariensis flowers, several times a day!

These royal blue coloured Veronica spicata flowers have extended themselves almost to capacity, but they’re still blooming and the lovely Clematis behind is a real joy. Pictured on the 26th July 2021.

These blue Veronica spicata flowers are excellent for attracting bees and butterflies. This wayward Verbena bonariensis flower is another excellent plant for pollinating insects.

Here’s yet another picture of a Cabbage White Butterfly feeding from Verbena bonariensis and Veronica spicata flowers. I took this picture on the 1st August 2021.

This Gatekeeper Butterfly blends in beautifully with its perch of fading rose leaves. Pictured on the 27th July 2021.

We’ve had crazy weather this summer, with countless downpours and quite strong winds at times. I observed this Gatekeeper Butterfly (Pyronia tithonus) resting on these dying rose leaves. I grow Rosa ‘Strawberry Hill’ up and over an arch next to my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 28th July 2021.

A Small White Butterfly (Pieris rapae) and a Leaf-cutter bee pictured enjoying Inula hookeri flowers growing alongside my wildlife pond, on the 27th July 2021.

I’ve observed large numbers of White Butterflies in my garden and around my wildlife pond, over the past three weeks. It’s not unusual to see 10 white butterflies together, when the sun’s shining. Pictured on the 27th July 2021.

Gatekeepers are such delightfully pretty butterflies. Here’s a picture of a Gatekeeper butterfly with its wings open. I also watched this butterfly feeding from these Inula hookeri flowers.

This Cupressus sempervirens is growing with the honeysuckle and ivy at the back of my pond. I took this picture to show you this troop of white butterflies that were twirling around me and my wildlife pond this afternoon.

Here’s another picture of the same group of butterflies. Pictured on the 28th July 2021.

Large White Butterflies demonstrating mid-air acrobatics. Pictured on the 28th July 2021.

Gatekeeper Butterflies can be distinguished from some of the other brown butterflies by their ‘eye’ markings which have two white dots. These can be seen on the underside of the butterflies’ wings, as well as their forewings. Pictured on the 28th July 2021.

Here’s a view of a Gatekeeper Butterfly’s forewings showing their eye markings with two white dots. Pictured on the 28th July 2021.

The oldest Inula hookeri flowers are fading now, but there are still a couple of flower buds that have yet to open. This Small White Butterfly (Pieris rapae) is pictured on the 3rd August 2021.

This Small White Butterfly (Pieris rapae) is feeding on Knautia arvensis nectar. Pictured on the 3rd August 2021.

Inula hookeri flowers bright a bright and bold glow to the garden and they also attract bees and butterflies, like this Small White Butterfly (Pieris rapae). Pictured on the 3rd August 2021.

This Gatekeeper Butterfly (like this Inula hookeri flower) is looking a little worn. Pictured on the 5th August 2021.

This Gatekeeper Butterfly has some damage to its wings and looks a little ragged. Is it the same butterfly I saw the day before? Pictured on the 6th August 2021.

Can you spot the butterfly?

This Peacock Butterfly enjoyed feasting upon the rose-scented moisture from these faded ‘Wild Edric’ rose flowers. Pictured on the 6th August 2021.

I adore Peacock Butterflies!

Verbascum nigrum surrounded by Clematis ‘Paul Farges’, and Verascum Knautis arvensis. Pictured on the 6th June 2021.

I spotted this Gatekeeper Butterfly flitting from plant to plant around my wildlife pond. I am almost certain that I see this same butterfly by my wildlife pond, every day. Pictured resting on Clematis ‘Paul Farges’ on the 10th August 2021.

I find that honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) is a magnet for bees, butterflies, moths, and hoverflies. On the 11th August 2021, this Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) spent over 30 minutes resting at the top of the honeysuckle by my wildlife pond.

This Peacock Butterfly (Aglais io) spent at least 30 minutes resting on the honeysuckle by my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 11th August 2021.

I see a lot of Gatekeeper Butterflies (Pyronia tithonus) in my garden. They particularly enjoy feeding on the nectar of Inula hookeri flowers. Pictured on the 11th August 2021.

Some of the Inula hookeri flowers by my wildlife pond are past their best now, but this pretty Gatekeeper Butterfly (Pyronia tithonus) spent a long time drinking in their nectar, on the 11th August 2021.

I’m still seeing large numbers of Cabbage White Butterflies in my garden; this one is Small White Butterfly (Pieris rapae). Pictured feeding from Inula hookeri flowers on the 11th August 2021.

This Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) was happy resting on the honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) by my wildlife pond.
He stayed here for ages!

This Peacock Butterfly (Aglais io) remained here for ages, basking in the sunshine on the honeysuckle and bindweed that’s growing behind my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 11th August 2021.

I grow both Holly and Ivy, so I enjoying seeing high numbers of Holly Blue Butterflies (Celastrina argiolus) in my garden. I find Holly Blues tend to be fast moving butterflies, so I rarely manage to get a photograph. This particular butterfly stayed here for ages, but I couldn’t get any nearer, as my wildlife pond is between the path and this hedge!

The caterpillar food plants for Holly Blue Butterflies are Ilex aquifolium (holly) and Hedera helix (ivy).  I grow both of these plants in my garden and so the Holly Blue is a butterfly that I see frequently in my garden.

Can you see the Holly Blue Butterfly in this picture? Pictured on the 15th August 2021.

I am quite hopelessly in love with Clematis ‘Kaiu’. I was thrilled to capture this moment as a female Holly Blue Butterfly visited this pretty ‘Kaiu’ flower. Pictured on the 15th August 2021.

I adore dainty little butterflies. I spent a few minutes watching this Holly Blue Butterfly (Celastrina argiolus) exploring my Clematis ‘Kaiu’ flowers at the side of my wildlife pond. Can you see all my nettles behind? They’ve spread far and wide, but I don’t want to curtail their range at the moment, just incase there are any caterpillars on the nettles.

This fast-moving female Holly Blue Butterfly (Celastrina argiolus) was whizzing around my wildlife pond. I managed to steal a picture as she settled to rest for a moment on a rose leaf, at the side of my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 15th August 2021.

All of my aquatic plants are reputed to attract insects. I was so happy to spot this Gatekeeper Butterfly in my wildlife pond, feasting on the nectar from these Myosotis scorpioides alba flowers.

I love growing Myosotis scorpioides alba, as this plant’s flowers are beneficial for bees, hoverflies, and butterflies above the water, and underneath the water, Myosotis scorpioides alba leaves are often used by female newts to conceal their eggs.

I see Gatekeeper Butterflies almost every time I venture into my little garden. This Gatekeeper Butterfly was very obliging and paused to feed from Myosotis scorpioides alba flowers’ nectar. Pictured on the 15th August. 2021.

A spotted this Holly Blue Butterfly exploring on the Clematis integrifolia Alba flowers by my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 22nd August 2021.

This Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa cardui) was enjoying the last of the day’s sunshine in this Cypress tree. Pictured alongside my wildlife pond, on 22nd August 2021.

Painted Lady Butterflies are just the most incredible butterflies.  Did you know that every year, Painted Lady Butterflies migrate from the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia and travel to the UK and Ireland?  We’d consider that a long journey if we’d travelled in a plane, but these butterflies fly themselves here.  Isn’t that amazing?

I adore these interesting and inspiring butterflies. This is the first Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa cardui) I’ve seen this year. I spotted this butterfly by my wildlife pond, on the 22nd August 2021.

A spotted this Holly Blue Butterfly exploring on the Clematis integrifolia Alba flowers by my wildlife pond. Pictured on the 22nd August 2021.

This Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa cardui) was enjoying the last of the day’s sunshine in this Cypress tree. Pictured alongside my wildlife pond, on 22nd August 2021.

I was over the moon to see this Painted Lady Butterfly sweep into my garden.  I didn’t see a single Painted Lady Butterfly last year and this is the first Painted Lady I’ve observed this year.  Hopefully I’ll see more butterflies this month, fingers crossed.  Whatever happens, I’ll let you know in my next update!

This is the first Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa cardui) I’ve seen this year. My heart leapt with joy as I spotted this butterfly by my wildlife pond, on the 22nd August 2021.

There are a few brambles growing on this side of my wildlife pond. Brambles are good plants to grow for wildlife, but I’ve already got them growing in another area of my garden. I am keen to ensure these climbers don’t take over the area by my wildlife pond. Here’s another picture of the same Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa cardui). Pictured on 22nd August 2021.

To head straight to the next update and see my wildlife pond in October, please click here.

For gardening advice for September, please click here.

For more articles about gardening for wildlife, please click here.

To see my plant pages and find information on growing a wide range of plants, please click here.

To see every update I’ve written about my wildlife pond, please click here.

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One thought on “An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Late Summer

  1. Barb Perks

    August 28, 2021 at 5:39pm

    I very much enjoy your posts! Like a wise and knowledgeable friend, from whom I have learned a lot about how to have a lovely, easygoing garden and that it can be a bit wild and welcoming to so many creatures. In our new pond I have watched with interest this year as the aquatic plants go through different phases. Comforting to see the same happening in your pond too.
    Thank you Pumpkin Beth,
    Barb

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      August 28, 2021 at 5:47pm

      Hello Barb

      Thank you for your lovely message, it’s wonderful to connect with you and find a kindred spirit. I am so happy that you’ve created a garden that’s welcoming to wildlife. I hope you’re having a lovely weekend and are enjoying spending time by your own wildlife pond.

      Warmest wishes
      Beth

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