Random Ramblings

Random Ramblings: Personal observations on a wide variety of subjects. Photographs of creatures and things that are taken on seeing the unusual as well as everyday things.

Garden geranium giants

There are so many varieties of geraniums and all of them offer bright flashes of red, white, orange, pinks, violets and purples. So many to choose from – both annual and perennial and without them a border is poorer.

Blue geranium - hardy perennial attracts the bumble bees This geranium despite being between violet and purple is known as a blue geranium. It is a hardy perennial and will grow just about anywhere. It is also a favourite of the bumble bee.

Pink geranium - perennial Pink geranium – perennial variety

Late lake

One place in Summer that shows nature in all her glory is the lake. It is everlastingly English from every evening whisper that washes over the eyes. It is the view that could never be painted and that isn’t really captured by the photo lens because it is … perfect in every possible detail. It could never be improved upon because you can never improve upon perfection.

Late lake An English Lake in Worcestershire (Arrow Valley Lake)


I have begun the task of trying to thin out some of the larger plants that are beginning to dominate my garden borders. Imagine my surprise when I came across the plants that the leaf-cutter bees are using to seal up their chambers with. So far this year I have found young ash tree leaves and more usual young rose leaves – these particular ones are from wild briar roses that have somehow self-seeded and are growing with vigour at the back of my border!

Leaf-cutter bees circle cuts out of rose briar Leaf-cutter bees circle cuts out of rose briar

Leaf-cutter bees circle cuts out of young Ash tree leaves Leaf-cutter bees circle cuts out of young Ash tree leaves


Quickly creeping up and down the honeysuckle’s long and winding stems I spotted what appeared to be a Harlequin Ladybird. These are ladybirds that have flown in from Asia. Originally in the early 2000’s they made their homes in the furthest south of the country but this one is now in Worcestershire so they are obviously moving north. Allegedly, they like to find their way indoors and emit a foul smelling liquid that is said to stain the furniture. It is also claimed that they put at risk the local British ladybirds … so watch out as they may be creeping somewhere in your garden!

Harlequin ladybird 1

Harlequin ladybird underneath 1Harlequin Ladybird from Asia


Every year, in early Spring, I check the garden borders looking for new foxglove plants. The one striking thing about this wonderful, old cottage garden essential is that every off-spring is different. From the darkest crimson purple can come a soft, buttermilk bloom with every shade in between! Each flower is like finding a precious jewel that has been chipped from the deepest mine. Every year I find at least one new variation from those that have visited before and they always leave me spellbound.

Foxhunt This Foxglove has upper flower insides cream with purple spots gradually changing so that lower ones are purple and the spots encircled with white


Foxgloves standing to attention in the flower borders

Foxgloves in bloomFoxgloves on parade

Poker face

There is always something special about a rather tropical looking plant known as a Red Hot Poker. It intrigued me as a child as a next-door neighbour had a couple of well established poker plants that produced bloom after bloom – each one appeared tall, straight and magical. It was a plant I always wanted to touch …

Poker hotRed Hot Poker Plant 

Poker Shapely – Poker Flowers ….  Poker heat

Poker face  A little slower to heat up

Plugging the poles

This year the leaf-cutter bees are working with the fury of warriors at war. Not stopping or pausing as in previous years when they chose to rest either on the side of the insect house or bask in the sun on a nearby fence. They are working from early dawn until dusk focused and single minded on completing their mission.

They wanted no interruptions – and they made this perfectly clear – for the first time ever one of them decided that I was not a welcome observer and buzzed up to my face and continued doing so until I had left the lawn area completely. There was no threat of a sting but rather a pushing mode as it circled and buzzed straight at my face over-and-over-and-over again. I have never witnessed this type of aggression from these bees before. There is an urgency about them that is new and different from previous behaviour patterns.

Plugging the poles_edited-1 Leaf cutter bees plugging the poles of the old insect house

Pole plugging by leaf-cutter beesLeaf-cutter bee at the top of one of the poles 

They appear to be currently plugging two holes every day. This is very speedy working … I wonder whether there is going to be a change in the weather which is making them act more dedicated than ever.

Fine fruit droops

The year is racing along and the early droop fruits are ripening quickly. Loganberries and raspberries are quickly darkening and becoming deep claret like a vintage wine. Rich in flavour with a slight tart back-bite they are reaching perfection. Dragging its feet is the wild blackberry that is still producing its tiny rose flowers that are garlanding the hedgerows on long winding brambles …

Loganberries Loganberries 

Wild raspberriesWild raspberries

Leaf cutter bees ……………….. are back

Despite the insect house being old and rickety and a major attraction to the garden spiders, the leaf cutter bees have returned for another year. They are working in a frenzy. Hardly taking time to clear out the bamboo poles before they dive in lay an egg and seal the compartment. Some are already stuffed with leaves to the very top of the little bamboo pole.

The very first time that leaf cutter bees arrived at the insect house they were very slow in each activity; cleaning out each pole; resting on the fence or on the side of the insect house during the construction of each little chamber; meticulous in both the sealing off and tidying up of the end of each pole. This year the bees are carrying out their work in total abandonment and with a slap dash finish … I wonder why?


Leaf cutter bees - June 2010

Leaf cutter bee - sealing chamber - June 2010

   Leaf cutter bees constructing chambers – remnants of a wasp nest on compartment below

Leaf cutter bee constructing sealed chamber

Leaf cutter bee in flight  Leaf cutter bee in flight

Musky moments

There is a lovely water plant that lives both on the banks of lakes and in the shallows of rivers that is a prolific flowerer. Over the years it came to be affectionately known as ‘monkey musk.’ If you peer into the flowers and half close your eyes the dark red spots that are lightly scattered over the bright yellow flowers take on the appearance of the eyes and nose of a monkey. Added to this the overall shape and you can make out the ears and the face line of a little monkey.

 Monkey musk

Monkey musk, Monkeyflower – Mimulus guttatus – perennial

Monkey musk - close-up of flowers

Diminishing ducks

There have been significant drops in the numbers of many creatures. Whether this is due to the long Winter period we experienced between the end of last year up until the Spring of this - it is difficult to say. Last year the lake was full of bubbly, active, loud quacking ducks of various species with particularly high numbers of Mallard. This year is quite different. The numbers of all of the water birds appear to be down. There are very few swans, smaller numbers of Canada geese and some species have so far not been spotted at all.

It was lovely however to glimpse a small family of ducklings … they were practising their swimming between a few Canada geese. These softly quacking water birds were the young of the Mallard and they appeared to be healthy.

Mallard ducklings swimming with Canada geeseMallard ducklings swimming near to Canada geese 

Ducklings - the young of the Mallard - swimming around Canada geese Mallard ducklings – swimming in front of Canada geese

Sweet smell of Summertime

It’s a sign of Summer’s imminent arrival when you can close your eyes and your nostrils are instantly assaulted with faint, sweet, sugary smells that climb deep into the lungs leaving their perfume to bed themselves in every crevice.

Rambling rose - pink and sweet Rambling rose – pink and sweet growing perfectly round ever so neat

Pink Rambling Rose sugary sweet Pink rambling rose as sweet as sugar mice

 Rambling rose, rambling rose where she rambles no-one knowsRambling rose pointing the way

The rambling rose is the most welcoming of flowers – it is gently sweet in its fragrance and bountiful in its continual supply of flowers that last from late Spring until the first frosts of the Winter. This pink rambler is a heavy petal variety crammed tightly in a circular shape.