August is a strange month in the garden. It’s somewhere between summer and autumn – the Welsh name for July, Gorffennaf, literally translates as “end of summer”. The early mornings have that smell, the feeling that change is in the air and that is reflected in the garden.
What’s in flower?
The wildflower meadow is partway through its annual cut and plants such as hydrangea and the peacock orchid (Acidanthera murielae) are flowering away. We’ve even got some early flowers from our cyclamen starting to show, which is a true sign that we are starting to see the very beginning of autumn.
A flying visit
August is also a very busy month for us gardeners and the property as a whole due to the holiday season. Visitors from around Britain and further afield come to soak up the relaxed atmosphere and see the floral and wildlife wows.
Look for house martins dancing through the sky as they feed on insects, some are now feeding a second clutch of young. It will be another month or two before they make the journey back to Africa to overwinter. If you’re lucky enough to get here early, I can recommend sitting on the stepping stones and allowing them to fly by your head as they chase their next meal!
We will see an influx of migratory birds over the coming months as they stop by to feed on the fruits and berries.
Thousands of butterflies
At the moment, we are seeing another flying visitor. Thousands of painted lady butterflies have made an appearance in the last few weeks as they continue on their journey from northern Africa to feed and reproduce in an epic journey that plays out like a Hollywood movie.
They have come to feed on nectar-rich plants such as buddleias, hemp agrimony and common knapweed as well as a host of garden favourites. They mingle with other butterflies such as the peacock and common blue, and if you’re lucky, you may catch sight of the beautiful demoiselle damselfly hiding in amongst the yellow flag iris in the meadow.