Insect decline.

Plenty of news coverage yesterday re insect decline, bizarre predictions of  ‘100 years’ seem so silly, if insect loss stands as it does now I’d say three years, five or seven. How else, if they’re ‘dropping like flies’  (horrible pun)  with nicotinoids and unmentioned aluminium levels then the tail off will can only be drastic. I feel so sorry for the knock on effects, to lose garden song birds will be so sad. Likewise bees, butterflies, and i wonder at earthworms. I garden for birds here, strangers have told me so, yet we use the term ‘garden songbird’ when in fact gardens suitable for them, swathes of urban garden are punctuated with barren grass patches at best or paving and gravel and the dreaded dreaded membrane. People just do not seem to connect, few people plant a garden hedge, there are other preoccupations, other toys to play with nowadays. People are so THICK …

My garden is a maze of carefully thought out ‘jumble’, niche corners, shrubs, flowering things, every day of the year theres something in flower. All done at little expense, lots from seed and cuttings.

Many farmers are not the best of operators in ensuring biodiversity, often on my rambles hedges are left to fail and thin and then remain as a few straggling hawthorn sixty years later. A most useful small / mini wood at the entrance to Old B Church was destroyed a few years ago, snowdrop churned to muck, for no purpose, the Forestry Commission a hundred miles away telling me they granted a license to fell and there will be i assume grant aid to develop another artificial synthetic planting. Here in our local Park much used by urban dogwalkers similar nonsense is occurring, an obsession in destroying potential butterfly habitat ie strimming and putting out of reach leaf litter for blackbirds with an obsession with wood chippings; maybe I’m wrong, maybe it will house worms and woodlice, I shall have to check.

Likewise at a couple of separate places i visit, i place bird seed in useful rough weathered fencepost, for twenty years yellowhammer have always accompanied me along that road in spring and summer, its the least i can do. I feed horses too, initially a little neglected, twenty years ago, nowadays the owners realise they need to make an effort. Its what you do that matters, not platitudes or vacuous observations with no follow up. In the bad snow of seven years ago it was only one visit in six weeks that I missed a 28 mile round trip to feed each afternoon; snow tyres being essential.

Do kids do gardening at school? They’ve stopped the wood and metalwork decades ago. And I always wonder that once the photo-op has passed what are the results of their efforts with trowel and seed packet? The consistency, the regularity of effort?

I recall my years eleven to sixteen in a village Secondary School NE England … the microscopes only ever came out of the cupboard once in five years, the biology / science teacher hopeless and uninterested, many lessons devoted to playing ‘hangman’ while he played around with his admin tasks!

We most definitely are bringing up kids that cannot make perform simple tasks to satisfactorily conclusion, cannot complete a practical task. The term ‘using ones hands’ still carries to many a derogatory inflexion to it. Lets blame the Educationalists, they have eradicated so much that is practical and geared toward a finished piece of work, not just fannying on with the apron and plastic specs. We live in a bullshit world, we are getting what we deserve.

An American style obsession driven by big business, all sizes of business with red meat and burgers will have to be re-thought, likewise population control; likewise what we spray on the fields. Probably its too late, but i would never give in, never decline to make the effort.

Aluminium levels are much ignored, not embraced as mainstream and my interest in diatoms is just too obscure (fundamental to the marine food chain) to yield anything from online searches!

 

https://www.straitstimes.com/world/europe/world-seeing-catastrophic-collapse-of-insects-study

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/10/plummeting-insect-numbers-threaten-collapse-of-nature

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-47198576

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/insects-dying-out-uk

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00553-8

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-47203344

 

From the Readers Digest Book of Birds, a most valuable and informative book. It 'appeals' ... is a beautiful object, it draws you in like no website ever could.
From the Readers Digest Book of Birds, a most valuable and informative book. It ‘appeals’ … is a beautiful object, it draws you in like no website ever could.

 

Isn’t that a beautiful rendition of the lapwing!  So accurate, so characterful, a credit to the artist. Their antics, their beautiful rippling warble across upland landscape is joyful, a masterpiece of creation. To those that don’t know it, they are sadly lacking.

So lets remind ourselves and also learn …

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_Spring

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pesticide_toxicity_to_bees

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_R._Ehrlich

https://www.ecologise.in/2017/10/26/giant-insect-ecosystem-collapsing-due-humans-catastrophe/

We need levity …

… and a fresh wind to blow.

Too much has been taken up with the cloying sadness and ineptitude of trump ie I mean the circus that masquerades as an administration.

Its a Sunday evening here, lets refresh ourselves.

Kenneth Williams was a rare individual,  a shy perhaps exquisite human being that blossomed best when left alone. Parkinson later on paired him with guests that destroyed his presence; but here we are in better times … I never realised Maggie Smith was so deliciously attractive …. maybe its cos now I’m now forty years older.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maggie_Smith

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_Williams

 

 

Postscript : I feel very inclined to end my trump posts, its all plain and clear for all to see how things will proceed, I’ve a great thirst to focus on more worthwhile topics than an overblown pantomime dame who most certainly will be leaving the White House under a very dark cloud.

Mass extinction … trying to understand.

https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/6th-mass-extinction-under-way-may-put-humans-at-6338783.php

Look at the contributors, for instance … Paul Erlich.

Not many bees this last year, no hubble of flies as I walk along late summer country lanes. The little critturs go first …. go ask a diatom.

Then the birds will fail and as above the pollinators and meanwhile some twat at 5G tells us how lucky we are ….

I am so glad I do not live in a city.

 

Nature wins every time …

Just heard on bbc r4 at 09:35 a most fascinating interview with Bernie Krause and his half century of sound recording, particularly how the volume and variety of natures soundscape has been declining for many years. The example given of the loss of water and habitat has rendered his example landscape near silent from a previous abundance of life and natures activity. Heres a vid I clicked at random, also we get a quote from William Dean Howells and so I also include the wiki. I actually did think of doing something with nature recordings, I’d collected a few dozen hours using my new Olympus DM-670 and was utterly impressed by its range and fidelity. I collected recordings out on walks and here several at say 04:30 spring thro early summer. Being out over the years I devised the June 13th shutdown which i’ve never read of anywhere else, its a ‘moveable feast’ so to speak.  Thats why i need to get this posted ASAP, I want to enjoy the atmosphere of my own garden before the bustle of the neighbourhood arrives.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Dean_Howells

A friend asked “How do you know all this stuff ?” … easy really, I use a computer at a desk and so can jot down in my daybook or diary or scraps of paper all I find interesting. Theres always pens and paper in every room in this house, books too, lots. Yet some folk think they are more ‘civilised’ than I am  … by living in stereotypical close to empty boxes !! Oh yes and no tv.

Guardian on wildlife…

Harrowing stats, all down. An open window at night might bring in a moth, 25yrs ago there would be lots and you would make sure it was only slightly ajar at night for eight months of the year. Even toads the Guardian tells us are at two thirds down in the 30 years I’ve been visiting the pit heap, funnily enough these last few years toads have been far fewer, water is fed in at a dribble from ag land further up, I wonder if and what they are spraying?

As cited previously its difficult to find up to date news of moth decline. Silence too on Pacific seabird decline and next to nothing on my favourite topic of diatoms – a strata of base level food chain that all successive levels depend upon.

I think municipal authorities could do more, excessive verge clearing must surely not help, though I do realise sapling encroachment may be part of their remit. Our local park is poorly managed say for unhindered sapling ash sprouting out of everything yet still there is the needless strimming at mid summer of any marginal herbage. So what about campion, yellow rattle or suchlike being able to set and scatter seed? Or my pending one thousand orchids scattered as seed a couple of years ago, the repeat of an experiment conducted sucessfully elsewhere. This tells me they know zilch for butterfly conservation. Also old and dead timber is not allowed to remain, hence are adamant on minimising food supply for songbirds.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/may/31/herbicides-insecticides-save-british-countryside-meaows

 

P1110800
Tiny toad found on the road. say 2011

 

My friend is without bees …

He’s deep in good countryside too, but admittedly farmed the modern way and mostly set to production. An environment in some areas of the UK which can be most sterile for buzzing pollen-collecting insects. He has lots of valerian, dianthus and things that should attract bees, but to what extent do local farmers spray?

Bees were hard to find earlier in the year, these last few days I get lots so maybe other locations are not providing sufficient pollen? Moths are certainly in a big decline, next to nothing enters the open kitchen window after dark, whereas thirty years ago and less they were actually a ‘nuisance’. Its thought bees are suffering from the aluminium from chemtrails, likewise aquatic life in streams and rivers.

Yet here this morning fifteen miles from him in my own garden the place is thankfully  a-buzz with buzzing things (and they ain’t mobile phones)  … various forms of bee, loving what I have to offer in this garden. Luckily a small colony of bees have been occupying one of the birdboxes on my rear house wall for maybe a year; last year I was so lucky to see the queen fly-in her flightless (workers?) one by one carrying them  ‘piggyback’ from the perennial border seven yards away.

When I look around this small estate I can see neighbours are challenged at reaching a better level of abundance for bees and suchlike. Elsewhere as I drive around the dreaded gravel and block paving slowly but surely creeps onto what were once flower bearing gardens. Does it not dawn on them “What the flip is there here for bees” ?

Even in a small bed at my front lawn which catches the sun, say five square yards …

Campanula 4ft erect form just starting.

Hebe white form 2-1/2 ft domed shrub as usual the main attraction. Easy from cuttings which I took deliberately as it is so attractive to bees.

Lambs tongue also v good for bees, its dry but this is thriving.

Cranesbill.

At rear right now  ….

Roses at their best (late this year).

Monkshood just starting.

Canterbury bells well into flowering.

(Foxglove receding) yet D Sibirica at its best right now ie useful to bees.

What could be done and isn’t is the staggered cutting of municipal areas so that clover can be allowed to flower, daisies ditto, smaller flying things love them. This is an obvious and simple boost for bees yet seemingly beyond the Authorities to embrace such a boon. Particularly appropriate in this dry year as a taller leafier growth might well cope with drought better. Short cropped and hence non-fflowering clover is no help to anyone or anything.

How come I can do this sort of  ‘thinking’  yet all around me theres little of it ??

 

 

 

Sometimes I think I should produce a booklet of how to build a garden like mine. It would save people time and money, put my experience directly into their hands. Put into permanent form something which will die with me.

For books I suggest the 3 volume ‘Readers Digest’ from the 1960’s, beautiful in every way. Looking quickly at my shelves, favourites are and you will enjoy these if you respond to the written word as I do and appreciate writers of breadth, sensitivity and insight.

Roy Genders ‘The Cottage Garden’.

Gerorge M Taylor ‘The Little Garden’

Graham Stuart Thomas ‘Climbing Roses Old and New’

RHS ‘Some Good Garden Plants’

And a most delightful treatment of various gardens developed after war had ravaged  London, a little quirky to our so-called modern eyes but tremendously attractive and worthwhile … Lady Allen and Susan Jellicoe ‘The New Small Garden’ pub by The Architectural Press. Theres a modern re-work of this title as a tribute to the original, equally a worthwhile purchase.

Its ‘funny’ about garden writers, the latest is always the one we see yet those that have passed away were in their day equally good but are now obscured, harder to find and to perhaps to such an extent as if they have no value. This is shameful.  A case in point being ‘Flowers of the Field’ by Rev C A Johns, a suprising, touching and co-incidental quote that was read at the gathering for my aunties funeral a few years ago. A favourite book of mine, well illustrating how much we have lost in the amount of information seemed appropriate.

So you see, for a small spend one could say far less than the expense of a mid priced meal out for two,  you can educate yourself, enter the mind and outlook of another person of accomplishment and benefit from their efforts. Its all pre-digital and we have lost something in the meantime. Theres a line from a poem that I think is valuable … “I want to be as our fathers were in the days before we were born.” Indeed, each generation accumulates practice, insight, developed ability but often it is cast away.

 

Beekeepers fear the ‘June gap’ …  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/June_Gap

Here below is a miscellany from earlier years …. around 2013 in my own garden. As with most things here it is seed raised or cuttings from other gardens I’ve worked in. Seed collecting now being a fun activity through summer. Likewise seed distribution in areas other than my own garden, supermarket waste area, a couple of public parks, a layby (to think of my first beagle on his last outing thirteen years ago) also a reclaimed landfill site. Nothing is introduced to well set and established ‘real countryside’.  Oh yes and as you drive south over the W Bridge there are three distinct groups of yellow flag iris early June, all my own handiwork, scattered say ten years ago.

 

 

 

 

Below are wilder areas beyond my own garden that having browsed B file a few minutes ago cannot help but want to add to this page. Something like 6k images online and half a million words built as a form of ‘electronic headstone’ and at its peak I was taking / collecting 30k items a year inc mvi.  Now theres little photography if any at all, though might have a go at pinhole; my wife a quiet woman provided a framework for me to pursue such things, this is the third summer without her, life changes. It also means I cook and launder and it all takes time, happily enough!

 

 

 

I collected a couple of hundred of these pics and had them bound into a hardback book (easy low cost resources available online) so that my auntie well into her nineties could see my life and what interests me. She loved it, meaning so much more than words could ever convey; in a way it got her out of the house for an hour, she had long since ceased to watch tv.