The other reason I’m not wild about July is because things start to “go over”, as Mum would have said.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always hated the sight of dead flowers, be they in a vase or in the garden.
Mum couldn’t bear to throw out cut flowers and she would keep them going to the bitter end. To me they seemed sad.
Really, I’d rather see flowers in a garden. A pot, perhaps.
Otherwise, I’d rather have a photograph or painting.
Same thing with birds and wild animals.
They belong in their natural habitat, not in cages, not in a zoo.
Sadly, if it wasn’t for zoos, many wild animals would probably not even exist anymore.
To me, though, there are few things sadder than a caged bird.
Or a lion pacing the fence of its cage. Thankfully, zoos are generally better thought-out these days.
Then there’s bugs.
There are flowers that bloom later in the season, to replace those that have gone over.
But my friend the Japanese beetle finds the cone flowers terribly tasty.
Just as well I don’t have chickens, Because if I did, I would most likely be following Mr. Katz’ advice.
He’s got a trap that’s fool proof, apparently. It smells like beetle sex, so off the wretches go and get themselves caught. Then the Bedlam Farm chickens have snacks.
But there’s no chickens here and the idea of just trapping and killing the blasted beetles…can’t do it.
Mum used to hoick up slugs and throw them in a glass of beer, which was maybe better than what she did before someone gave her that idea. Originally she used to put salt on them.
It sort of bothered me, when I was visiting, but I turned my head and tried not to think about it.
Then I got a garden in Washington, FULL of slugs.
They ate my hostas and lots of other things, so I went online to see what I could do to protect my plants and came up with copper tape.
It did work, if you applied it properly and everywhere. In the end the slugs won when I befriended them.
Can you believe? I used to talk to them.
They are just snails without shells.
Of course snails didn’t do well in Mum’s gardens either.
She used to toss them against a wall.
And throw stones at stray cats!
The idea that I come from such a background is deeply troubling, says Lily.
She’ll get over it by dinner time.
Not sure who this little chap is. He was perusing the milkweed and was rather keen to avoid my camera lens, but then he considered stopping for a drink and I left him to get on with it.
We’ve seen a couple of Monarch butterflies recently, but the caterpillars usually don’t emerge till August.
Milkweed is everywhere these days, but the Monarchs have an awfully long journey to get here from Mexico.
Photographing butterflies is a frustrating enterprise!
We saw these in August, 2019, but they vanished without morphing, sadly. I must find a way to protect them if we get any this year.
Sweet Alyssa escaped the attention of baby groundhogs and managed to produce the tiniest of flowers which are themselves apparently food for some small creature.
Not sure who these guys are but they appear to be just taking pollen and they are welcome.
Now this would appear to be a flying ant.
Years ago, in Thailand, we were one night introduced to flying ants in a way I shall never forget.
Looking for my book, I went into my room and turned on the light. Then, I heard what I assumed was a violent tropical downpour, but when I went to the window, I could not see out as it was thick with insects that had been attracted by the sudden illumination. Flying ants descended on the house in vast clouds, crawling in through the many cracks and alighting on very available surface, including us. In our hair, down our necks, everywhere.
Those that did not get swatted engaged in mad sex, shedding their wings. After which the males fell dead. Fortunately, their orgy was soon over, but it wasn’t much fun sleeping that night with the odd dazed ant still crawling about.
In the morning, when Tong, the gardener arrived, he was delighted. He fetched a broom and an enamel bowl and swept up the corpses under the house, which was on stilts. We didn’t see how he prepared it, but this was a great free lunch.
The wings were something else, though. They blew around for days and eventually dissipated in the wind.
That house in Thailand was one of my more unique temporary homes. I happened to be the first person who had occasion to flush the toilet. Instead of water, an ant nest fell out of the cistern which presumably had not been used for a while.
At night, one needed to make adjustments to the many noises, including a huge bamboo tree that was outside my window and the house, built almost entirely of wood creaked and groaned in the endless wind.
This was only a worry in the winter months when it was quite customary to expect break-ins, as people needed to supplement their food supplies (presumably).
One such night, my parents went to a party, leaving me alone. Every sound, I thought was a footstep. I turned on the radio to make it seem I was not alone, but I was scared stiff!
Another nightly sound was rats in the roof. Every night is seemed they were conducting trotting races.
Once, my dad went outside to the storeroom at night and encountered one of the rats face to face, which wasn’t as bad as when he went out and met up with an intruder. The man fled, dropping a small sickle-shaped weapon that he fortunately decided not to use.
One was also liable to find a snake slithering up the stairs which was a bit disconcerting as some of the local serpents were highly poisonous. Scorpions tended to stay in the garden.
There was one insect we grew fond of. A wasp decided for some reason that the place to build its nest was on the small brick wall by the breakfast nook. We came to realize that the wasp waited at the door each morning to gain access and it flew through the house and down to a muddy patch where it rolled up another ball of earth for its home.
No doubt, that wasp was the first insect I befriended