Six on Saturday: Not All Visitors are Pink

Later than in most years, the roses are gradually coming out to play; ‘Strawberry Hill’ was the first, climbing over the arch at the back of the main borders. She has a very dishevelled appearance, as if she got dressed in a hurry in a distinctly strawberry shade of pink.

‘Olivia Rose Austin’, the rose I showed on Wednesday, really is the most perfect ‘quartered’ rose and a glorious shade of pale pink, not that you would know from the sun-bleached photograph of her on location. She came to visit for the first time early last year, and quickly settled down into a shapely and healthy bush, immediately becoming one of my favourites.

The third rose to get going this year is ‘Gertrude Jekyll’, said by some to be the most popular rose ever. She has been resident here for a number of years but moved house about three years ago, leaving the gallery fence for a new abode at the end of the shrub border. She has taken a little while to settle in but this year her decision to move was rewarded and she is looking wonderful, with more blooms than I have ever seen before, even at this early stage. She is a deeper and brighter pink than the other two, and very appealing – probably set to become another favourite!

I have managed to get a close up of one of the bees from the bird box, and am fairly confident it is a tree bumblebee Bombus hypnorum, a species not known in the UK till 2001They are associated with open woodland and are commonly found in gardens that have a similar type of habitat, nesting in cavities such as old birds’ nests, bird boxes, or roof spaces. It visits a wide range of flowers, particularly those of soft fruits, such as raspberries and blackberries, emerging from hibernation early in the spring, around February or early March; males are seen in late May and June but by July the nests are usually defunct. The bees buzzing around the entrance are males, and harmless.

Meanwhile, ‘our’ red mason bees have filled up some of the nesting tubes, capping them with ‘mud’, after having seen no activity there since they hatched early in April, leaving me a little concerned that they might not have coped with the frosty nights following the emergence from their cocoons. They tend not to be active after June, by which time leafcutter bees will have emerged and will quickly fill any empty tubes, destroying rose foliage as they do so!

Lastly, the sixth of my Six on Saturday, the meme hosted by fellow blogger Jon the Propagator, is another visitor, very cautiously made welcome – despite the shock of finding him right outside our back door! He is of course ‘just’ a humble grass snake, and therefore harmless, but I did double check as I am pretty sure I have never seen one before. Apart from the compost heap, our garden isn’t really the ideal habitat for it, although when I saw him he was basking in a sunny spot – sadly I didn’t see which way he slithered off. It feels a privilege to play host to hedgehogs, bees, a grass snake and a range of birds in the garden, although wood pigeons are categorically excluded from this welcome!


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23 Responses to Six on Saturday: Not All Visitors are Pink

  1. bcparkison says:

    It’s hard to like snakes …even the good ones. I sometimes have a king snake pass through but not many this year. they must be down in the woods. But then maybe all these cats keep unwanted critters away.

    • Cathy says:

      It was the shock at seeing it that threw me, Beverley, and the thought of perhaps finding one when I was rooting around in the undergrowth with bare hands, especially as the UK does have a native poisonous snake, the adder…

  2. Beautiful! That plant-framed sitting area is so inviting!

  3. tonytomeo says:

    So, after all that commotion, there will be no honey?

    • Cathy says:

      I would love to have a beehive and keep honeybees Tony, but the Golfer still does have an inherent fear of bees and is being remarkably tolerant of the ones that have invited themselves to live here.

      • tonytomeo says:

        Well, it is too much work anyway. The hives that try to move in here get relocated, not because any of us mind, but because some of the guests might not like so many bees, and someone might be allergic to them.

  4. Noelle M says:

    You legless lizard is a beauty. They are long lived too, and I hope this one will find a mate and wish your garden many little ones in the future. I had Gertrude Jekyll in my last garden and can testify to its appeal. I just had it as a shrub, but you have a climber which is just perfect.

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, I wouldn’t want it to be lonely, Noelle! I had forgotten GJ was available as a shrub as well as a climber but it is in a good spot and faces almost south, so will get full sun until the cornus grows taller again and shades it

  5. It’s fascinating to know there are creatures all around, all the time. The roses are just beautiful.

  6. How lucky to see a grass snake! I’ve not seen one for a few years now. You’ve got a nice selection of roses. I especially like ‘Strawberry Hill’ and it’s setting!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Allison – the bench has been there for some years, but the archway was added more recently, partly to accommodate another rose and partly to use the leaded glass from a door we had been given (it has a mirror behind it)

  7. I love your roses, especially “Gertrude Jekyll”. Cathy in your wonderful garden live bees, birds, hedgehogs … and now you have a beautiful new grass snake, it is beautiful, I love that your garden is a miniature of Noah’s Ark. Have a great week. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita x

  8. Cathy says:

    Congratulations on the grass snake! I am always so surprised when I come across one… haven’t seen any this year yet. Do you have slow worms in your garden? Beautiful roses – such gorgeous colours. 😃

    • Cathy says:

      I have definitely never seen a slow worm, Cathy. It took a few years to begin to appreciate roses but there is no stopping me now, and if I can squeeze another rose in then I will!

  9. Pauline says:

    I usually see grass snakes either in the compost bin or by the pond, sometimes in the pond, its a bit of a shock when they are in the compost bin and I raise the lid! Love Gertrude Jekyll, she is one of the first roses I bought almost 30 yrs ago and she is still going strong.

    • Cathy says:

      So you see grass snakes regularly?Good to know GK is long-lived – some rose specialists recommend changing them every 10 years or so…!

  10. Chloris says:

    Lovely to see the roses again, aren’t they late this year? Most of mine aren’t out yet. I had a grass snake in my pond last year, presumably eating all the tadpoles. I can’t say they are welcome visitors, they make me shudder when I come upon them. And slowworms in the compost bin had me running for cover. Pathetic, I know they are harmless.

    • Cathy says:

      I don’t mind them being a bit late as this means they will be on form for our visitors! The three I showed are the only ones with multiple blooms and there are many which haven’t opened any buds at all yet. I was relieved Google confirmed ours was a grass snake!

  11. Beautiful roses and I love the seating area you’ve made. I’m growing climbing ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ for the first time this year and can’t wait to see the flowers.

    • Cathy says:

      Thank you – I have really come to appreciate roses in recent years and am always trying to find ways of adding more. I hope your Gertrude does well for you

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