After a wet morning, it turned into a bit of a blustery afternoon and, having missed a day of deadheading roses, the breeze seemed to do the job for me, removing both petals and, in some cases, complete heads. The pale apricot confetti in the above picture is Crown Princess Margarita, two bushes growing over the archway that flanks the step up to the paved area immediately behind the house. The archway joins the rose arbour beyond it, housing Rambling Rector and making one continuous structure. The wind also blew over all my mystery clematis, still in pots, for the umpteenth time in the last few days!
A forecast of rain did not put me off a walk this morning, despite having to strip off on my return for the second time in less than a week – but at least it wasn’t cold rain as it had been on Sunday, nor as persistent. I planned to venture out with a carrier bag and a pair of scissors, intent on picking elderflowers to make the proverbial cordial and knowing some were already over I did not want to delay it any further. Not having made it before, I had no idea what sort of quantities were needed and foolishly didn’t check before I went out.
Fortunately there was ample, and the requisite quantity is steeping overnight in a sugar syrup. I know some of you make elderflower cordial regularly but, for those that don’t, if it proves to be successful I will post the recipe in due course.
Still on the subject of fruit, the raspberries I showed on Saturday are progressing nicely and have even permitted a small picking. Meanwhile, behind them in the fruit cage, the blackberries were looking even more prolific, promising abundance in a couple of months:
A closer look, however, showed all was not well – shock! horror: sawfly!
When I grew gooseberries, they were attacked every year by sawfly, destroying all hope of a crop, until I gave up the fight. Last year, at the end of June, in the absence of gooseberries I found sawfly on raspberries, loganberries and blackberries, shredding the foliage and limiting the crop although fortunately not completely. So far this year, only the lower foliage was a skeleton of its former self, but I know how quickly the army of little caterpillars (the sawfly larvae) can strip a leaf, so prompt action was needed. It is impossible, as is often suggested, to pick them off as they appear, because until they furtively begin stripping the leaves you have no idea they are there! So, unfortunately, this meant the one spray I already had which sadly was not as natural as one would have liked.
I note that Nemasys now supply nematodes that control sawfly so will look into this – does anyone have any experience of this type of nematode? I have also read of a natural oil called neem, a naturally occurring pesticide found in seeds from the neem tree, which is meant to be effective against sawfly. Again, has anyone come across this before? More research in recent days has shown that a winter wash can help destroy overwintering sawfly and this seems an eminently sensible precaution! Interestingly, a number of weeks ago there were considerable numbers of a very distinctive fly only in the vicinity of the fruit cage, and in hindsight whilst writing this I wonder if this was the adult sawfly? Too much of a coincidence for this not to be the case…