A strong hint of autumn

Rudbeckia in bloom.
Rudbeckia in bloom.

There is a strong hint of autumn in garden and countryside right now.

Ripe rowan berries have been a feature through most of August and the fruits are dripping from mature hawthorn hedges everywhere. Popular butterflies have arrived late to our gardens, as they did last year, and are just catching the tail end of buddleia blooms, but there are plenty of other nectar opportunities.

Peacock butterfly on buddleia (butterfly bush).

Peacock butterfly on buddleia (butterfly bush).

The cone flowers, rudbeckia and echinacea, are in full bloom alongside border heleniums. Their favourite, Sedum spectabile, is just opening.

As autumn progresses and these flowers begin to run out of steam, the peacocks, red admirals et al will all flock to the over-ripe plums left for their attention. Wasps are wandering drowsily between ripening fruit crops and the darker side of their nature will out as they sting on contact. Only the queens survive winter, but that does not stop the others feeding until their time is up.

Earlier in the season, you had to admire their taste for caterpillars that would otherwise be munching our precious plants, but by turning their attention to our fruit, they are creating a problem.

I was stung while collecting raspberries, a painful reminder of their capabilities.

Wasps on Discovery apples.

Wasps on Discovery apples.

Neither were they pleased when we decided to pick all the gooseberries in one go and freeze them. Predictably they then headed for the greenhouse where tomatoes are plentiful and grapes are on the point of ripening.

Our first line of defence there is a mesh door with a magnetic closing device. Thwarted at first, they then began entering through the roof ventilators.

Hopefully, fleece stapled over each gap will now close off that route, and they’ll turn their attention to ripening plums and apples outdoors.

Top tip for this month has to be: Carefully look over each fruit before laying a hand on it. There may be one or more wasps inside!