Scarlet Tigers, Whims and Being Thick

I was working through my list of garden tasks today and had just about finished deadheading, with tying in of clematis to follow, when I spotted this unusual visitor in the blue & white border. It took a fair amount of perusing our butterfly and moth book and a searching conversation with Google to determine for sure that it is was a Scarlet Tiger Moth. Mostly found throughout the south and west of England and Wales in damp wetland areas and coastal sites and flying in the daytime in June and July, sightings have increased further north and into the Midlands in recent years. They often lay their eggs on comfrey, which we do have in our garden, but it is far from being a wetland or coastal site!

Having paused by the blue & white border for longer than intended, on a whim I decided to cut out the stems of rose ‘Snow Goose’ that had finished flowering. Planted against the wall, it had been covered in blooms earlier but had become top-heavy and needed attention. A repeat-flowering rambler, I must have neglected to cut it back last year, but nevertheless have often thought that it wasn’t the best rose for this location anyway. It didn’t take long to cut it down to size and, seeing how well the Trachelospermum asiaticum was doing underneath it, I am now seriously considering taking the rose out altogether…a decision for another day.

The decision has been made about the aconitum, though, and that will be out as soon as it had finished flowering…

A whim is a dangerous thing when one has time on one’s hands, and last week I cut down the honeysuckle on one side of the lychgate, albeit on the basis that similarly severe attention given to another honeysuckle following aphid infestation produced lush new growth the following year. Hopefully, the result will be equally successful, and in the meantime it looks so much better without all that woody growth.

Tomorrow Rambling Rector will be tackled – but not on a whim as this is a routine maintenance task by which time we could have filled our garden refuse bin three times over!

And finally, ‘being thick’…many gardeners may not appreciate just how chuffed I am with my outdoor sweet peas, but this really is the first time I have grown any that are anything other than barely flowering spindly specimens. Instead of trying to grow them on the fence down the side of the cutting beds they have their own bed and purpose-built supports, and are rewarding me with prolific blooms and the thickest of stems, the latter a sure sign of healthy plants.

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11 Responses to Scarlet Tigers, Whims and Being Thick

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Which honeysuckle is that? I can not see in the picture.

    • Cathy says:

      No idea Tony because that wasn’t the point – it clothed the left hand side of the lychgate with a tangle of woody stems as you can see in the left photo, and cut back in the right one

  2. Lisa says:

    People tend to dismiss moths, yet they can be just a stunning as butterflies!

  3. What a fabulous find!

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    What a handsome moth. It is so colorful. Such a surprise to find it in your garden. I wonder if there is any that use comfrey in my part of the world. I have a nice patch of comfrey. I will be looking more closely at it. So happy about your sweet peas. I can’t get them to grow for me. Maybe after seeing your success I will give them another try next year.

    • Cathy says:

      The fact it was so bright and was about in the daytime made spotting it easy. I believe some moths are quite specific about the plants they lay their eggs on (butterflies too?). Do others locally grow sweet peas? What do you think might be the problem?

  5. Pauline says:

    Love your moth which I haven’t seen before, we have a Jersey Tiger Moth which is similar, moths in the daytime are unusual aren’t they. I admire all your cutting back, what a lot of work you did on a really hot day!

    • Cathy says:

      I always have a last ramble in the garden at dusk and on the same day I saw several large moths but they didn’t settle long enough to begin try and make out what colour they were – much easier with those that fly by day! Perhaps in time the Jersey variety will make it further north too… Fortunately where I was cutting it was fairly shaded at that time of day, as it was for the next day’s cutting and lopping too

  6. Anna says:

    A beautiful moth. They usually get pushed into the background compared to their butterfly cousins but can be just as spectacular. Well done on your sweet pea achievements Cathy. Thick stems here but the first flowers have still to open! They weren’t sown until the middle of March and I think that the dry May has affected them.

    • Cathy says:

      I was amazed to find this was a moth, although we have learned that butterflies rest with vertical wings whereas moths rest theirs horizontally, so guessed it would have to be a moth because of this. Hope your sweet peas catch up.

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