Taken from Lynne’s weekly column ‘Green Scene’ for the Western Mail. 2nd September 2017 Point of View
I have a large white buddleia in front of the cottage, which I prune enthusiastically and which cheerfully regenerates to block a substantial amount of my view every year.
A friend visited recently and immediately commented, “Why don’t you cut that bush down, (she’s not a gardener) it’s blocking the view?”
I pointed out that there were actually 18 butterflies feeding on it at that particular time, as well as bees, too numerous to count.
“Yes, but if you cut it down, they’ll just go somewhere else,” she persisted.
“And what if next door thought the same, and next door to them and so on …?” I asked.
And therein lies the problem, in my opinion. It’s because people think, ‘that won’t matter’, that we have far less bees, butterflies and happy, healthy wildlife around in general. It does matter. It matters to them.
I do cut the buddleia down when it has finished flowering, so I have my view for the majority of the year. And for the few months when I can’t see the mountains, I enjoy the view of the visiting bees and butterflies instead.
And, not surprisingly, I have taken feeding the butterflies a step further – in the name of research – I read that butterflies especially like to drink from mushy slices of banana, oranges and watermelon, (they suck the liquid up through their proboscis) so I have put some of those in little dishes for them. They adore it! I thought the wasps might too, but so far that’s not the case. Maybe the stripies are busy feeding on the windfalls that are just starting.
Butterflies prefer to feed in the sun and out of the wind. They are cold-blooded, so cannot regulate their own body temperature, and it therefore changes with the temperature of their surroundings. If they get too cold, they are unable to fly and need to warm up their muscles in order to resume flight. Butterflies can fly as long as the air is between 60°-108° F, although temperatures between 82°-100° F are best. If the temperature drops too low, you’ll see them basking with their wings spread out in order to soak up the sun’s heat. Conversely, if they get too hot they will ‘puddle’ – which means heading for shade or for cool areas like puddles. Generally more males than females ‘puddle’ – think of it as ‘heading for the pub!’ So it is important to make sure they have little shallow puddles or dishes of water in the garden too. Bees also appreciate shallow water to drink from; it’s a great, and simple, thing to provide for them.
Most of us don’t think twice about looking after our garden birds, so why not the bees and butterflies too?
If you’ve been trying to lose weight, you’ll enjoy this! Champion pumpkins growing twins, Ian and Stuart Paton from Southampton are nurturing four ‘pumpkin babies’, which are currently piling on a massive 60lb, or 4 stone, a day! The twins are well on the way to giving their record-breaking 160 stone pumpkin of 2016 a run for its money, with the weigh-in just 6 weeks away, on 14th October at the Royal Victoria Country Park, Southampton.
And it’s not just the weight that’s piling up – their water and electricity bills are also going through the roof to keep the pumpkins hydrated and warm and in an effort to beat the record once again. The plump pumpkins are being kept at a constant 18°C, even throughout the night for the first time. This seems to be working, as the rapidly expanding pumpkins are currently 10% ahead of last year’s winner with a circumference of 19ft already.
I’ve heard it said that if we all put our worries into one big pile, it wouldn’t be long before you were looking to retrieve your own, instead of anyone else’s – and with this in mind, one of the Paton’s current worries is that one false move and the pumpkin skin can split making it ineligible for the weigh-in.
Puts it all in perspective if you ask me!
25,000 runners are expected to hit the streets of the Welsh capital for the 2017 Cardiff University/Cardiff Half Marathon on Sunday 1st October but did you know that the very first marathon occurred today, 2 September, in 490 BC?
During the Persian Wars, Phidippides, an Anthenian, ran 26 miles from Marathon to Sparta on 2 September to seek help in repelling the invading Persian army. However, help was unavailable due to religious law and so he then ran the 26 miles back to Marathon on 4th September. Even without Spartan help, the Athenians went on to defeat the Persians at the Battle of the Marathon on 9 September.
Although the ‘Cardiff Half’ is sold out, for the first time in its fourteen year history, runners can still get a place on the start-line through one of the Cardiff University/Cardiff Half Marathon’s official charities. More details at www.cardiffhalfmarathon.co.uk.
I have run the Cardiff half several times (once barefoot) and it is a lovely course, I highly recommend it (with trainers) and of course, the good news is, unlike Phidippides, you won’t have to run it in reverse or fight a battle after it!