Notes from a field & Garden - Bob Sheridan
© 1996 - 2019 Mike Frisby Langham in Rutland
It is the end of October and the nights are getting colder. We have had the first air frost with a temperature of -10C and ice has formed on the water lily tub and the bird bath. This is always a tricky time finding space in the greenhouse to bring in the tender plants that need winter protection. When I dug the Cannas up I found the roots had hardly grown out of the compost that they had been growing in before I planted them out. The dry weather must have discouraged from growing out into the soil. It is no wonder they didn't grow very much or flower. I will now have to wait another year to find out what the flowers are like on those I grew from seed. Also inside now are a couple of ginger lily plants, Hedychium , second year plants grown from seed, they had quite spectacular flowers during late summer. Pineapple lilies, Eucomis, produced a good show this year and are safely tucked up for the winter. They are easy bulbs to grow from seed but they take a few years to reach flowering size. There are dozens of hybrids and species that are now available. The most common species is Eucomis bicolor . Another species that flowered for the first time this year was Eucomis comosa . It has a taller flower and lacks the tuft of bracts on the top typical of bicolor. The fuchsias and begonias will stay outside a little longer.
I like to let the fuchsias drop their leaves before bringing them in and the begonias to lose their stems before drying off the tubers for storage. Hopefully two doses of vine weevil killer during the growing season will have left them pest free. In the house African violets, Saintpaulia , and Chistmas cactus, Schlumbergera , are in full flower. Both are easy to grow and require much the same conditions. A window sill that doesn't get direct sunlight is ideal. The Christmas cactus also likes to stand on a tray of damp gravel but clear of any water. It is recommended that Christmas cactus have two resting periods, from January to March and again from mid September until the flower buds have formed. I must admit I never bother and they seem to flower well. Both are easy to propagate. African violets grow small plantlets from a leaf if it is cut from the plant and put into a pot of compost with the joint of the leaf with the stem just touching the surface. With the Christmas cactus simply cut of a piece two or three segments long, let it dry for a couple of days and again put it in a pot of compost. I tend to take new cuttings every couple of years so that I always have small fresh plants. The birds have started coming back to the feeders with sightings of goldfinches, robin and various tits. There is always a dunnock on the ground below the feeders collecting any spilt seed. A mistle thrush has paid a few visits to the field and a heron landed briefly before flying over the hedge towards the brook. A few days ago I could hear a rapid tap, tap, tap which seemed to be coming from the kitchen. A quick investigation revealed a small flock of blue tits taking it in turns to fly up and peck at the outside cover of the kitchen vent. I assumed they were attracted by insects in there but it was unusual for there to be so many of them and for them to stay so long. Eventually they flew off and all went quiet. I thought no more of it until later when outside, walking around the house, I found three pieces of bright green plastic, the remains of a wall plug. I was at a loss as to where they had come from as I had not used any like that. Then it struck me, they were just below the kitchen vent. I think the plastic must have been inside the vent and the blue tits had mistaken it for some sort of insect. It must have taken them ages to wiggle it through the grill only to find it was not edible. The 2nd October must have been Langham raptor day. A pair of buzzards spent ages cart wheeling over the field and later a tight group of four red tailed kites were doing the same thing. Groups of buzzards are sometimes seen but I have never before seen more than two kites together over the village. Now that the three young crows are fully grown they are not seen so often. The parents have gone back to hiding any spare food but as soon as they have left a crafty magpie flies in and steals it. Late summer has been disappointing for insects. Very few butterflies have been seen but a dragonfly was on the wing in late September and a humming bird hawk moth paid a brief visit during the first week of October. The squirrel has been backwards and forwards to the walnut tree collecting nuts, it must have collected a large number. It has got quite used to me and if it sees me in the garden it sits and looks for a moment or two before scurrying on its way, sometimes only a couple of feet from me. I don't know if it is a male or a female but I have called it Grace, (as in Grace Quirrell!). The only downside to this is that every pot that I have outside has been disturbed and a walnut planted in it. There were several small piles of leaves that had collected in corners and when I swept them guess what was underneath each one, a single walnut. It is a wonder walnut trees are not coming up everywhere considering the number it must have buried. I am always interested in other peoples sightings and comments so don't forget to email me on wildlife@langhaminrutland.org .
October 2018
Notes from a field & Garden - Bob Sheridan
Langham in Rutland © 1996 - 2019 Mike Frisby
It is the end of October and the nights are getting colder. We have had the first air frost with a temperature of -10C and ice has formed on the water lily tub and the bird bath. This is always a tricky time finding space in the greenhouse to bring in the tender plants that need winter protection. When I dug the Cannas up I found the roots had hardly grown out of the compost that they had been growing in before I planted them out. The dry weather must have discouraged from growing out into the soil. It is no wonder they didn't grow very much or flower. I will now have to wait another year to find out what the flowers are like on those I grew from seed. Also inside now are a couple of ginger lily plants, Hedychium , second year plants grown from seed, they had quite spectacular flowers during late summer. Pineapple lilies, Eucomis, produced a good show this year and are safely tucked up for the winter. They are easy bulbs to grow from seed but they take a few years to reach flowering size. There are dozens of hybrids and species that are now available. The most common species is Eucomis bicolor . Another species that flowered for the first time this year was Eucomis comosa . It has a taller flower and lacks the tuft of bracts on the top typical of bicolor. The fuchsias and begonias will stay outside a little longer. I like to let the fuchsias drop their leaves before bringing them in and the begonias to lose their stems before drying off the tubers for storage. Hopefully two doses of vine weevil killer during the growing season will have left them pest free. In the house African violets, Saintpaulia , and Chistmas cactus, Schlumbergera , are in full flower. Both are easy to grow and require much the same conditions. A window sill that doesn't get direct sunlight is ideal. The Christmas cactus also likes to stand on a tray of damp gravel but clear of any water. It is recommended that Christmas cactus have two resting periods, from January to March and again from mid September until the flower buds have formed. I must admit I never bother and they seem to flower well. Both are easy to propagate. African violets grow small plantlets from a leaf if it is cut from the plant and put into a pot of compost with the joint of the leaf with the stem just touching the surface. With the Christmas cactus simply cut of a piece two or three segments long, let it dry for a couple of days and again put it in a pot of compost. I tend to take new cuttings every couple of years so that I always have small fresh plants. The birds have started coming back to the feeders with sightings of goldfinches, robin and various tits. There is always a dunnock on the ground below the feeders collecting any spilt seed. A mistle thrush has paid a few visits to the field and a heron landed briefly before flying over the hedge towards the brook. A few days ago I could hear a rapid tap, tap, tap which seemed to be coming from the kitchen. A quick investigation revealed a small flock of blue tits taking it in turns to fly up and peck at the outside cover of the kitchen vent. I assumed they were attracted by insects in there but it was unusual for there to be so many of them and for them to stay so long. Eventually they flew off and all went quiet. I thought no more of it until later when outside, walking around the house, I found three pieces of bright green plastic, the remains of a wall plug. I was at a loss as to where they had come from as I had not used any like that. Then it struck me, they were just below the kitchen vent. I think the plastic must have been inside the vent and the blue tits had mistaken it for some sort of insect. It must have taken them ages to wiggle it through the grill only to find it was not edible. The 2nd October must have been Langham raptor day. A pair of buzzards spent ages cart wheeling over the field and later a tight group of four red tailed kites were doing the same thing. Groups of buzzards are sometimes seen but I have never before seen more than two kites together over the village. Now that the three young crows are fully grown they are not seen so often. The parents have gone back to hiding any spare food but as soon as they have left a crafty magpie flies in and steals it. Late summer has been disappointing for insects. Very few butterflies have been seen but a dragonfly was on the wing in late September and a humming bird hawk moth paid a brief visit during the first week of October. The squirrel has been backwards and forwards to the walnut tree collecting nuts, it must have collected a large number. It has got quite used to me and if it sees me in the garden it sits and looks for a moment or two before scurrying on its way, sometimes only a couple of feet from me. I don't know if it is a male or a female but I have called it Grace, (as in Grace Quirrell!). The only downside to this is that every pot that I have outside has been disturbed and a walnut planted in it. There were several small piles of leaves that had collected in corners and when I swept them guess what was underneath each one, a single walnut. It is a wonder walnut trees are not coming up everywhere considering the number it must have buried. I am always interested in other peoples sightings and comments so don't forget to email me on wildlife@langhaminrutland.org .
October 2018