The frosts that took until January to reach us last winter arrived during early December this year. The 7th December to be exact and persisted for several days. The photograph below was taken on the 10th. If you align the start of winter with the winter solstice (21st December 2022) then these are in fact late Autumn frosts. This will not be ideal for any seedlings that may have germinated from the wildflower seed scattered during the early Autumn. To partially counter this we have already begun sowing a few seeds indoors so that we can introduce them from late March to bolster flower numbers.
Snow wasn’t far behind the frosts and Bristol woke up on the morning of the 11th to a whiter world. But as we have come to expect, the snow cleared after a few days and it rained for most the rest of December. Certainly no white Christmas for us. The continued saturated ground has prevented us from walking over the Garden excessively as we aim to prevent soil compaction.
As garden life slows down in winter, we tend to take the opportunity to catch up on some of the wildlife we photographed during the Spring/Summer and see what species we may have overlooked. Below are three of the species we have been able to add to the garden species list from early records:
Phaonia pallida (Diptera/True Fly) – 5th May 2022
Piratula latitans (Araneae/Spider) – 4th June
Ectoedemia intimella (Lepidoptera/Moth) – 17th July 2022
We are hoping to add more species over the coming weeks.
This was a record breaking year in terms of the prolonged heatwave and the 36.9C record temperature recorded on the 18th July. Summarised in our August Calendar entry HERE.
We began the year with 406 species on the Garden list. We ended it with 524 and fully appreciate we are still only just scratching the surface. In fact it may be below the surface we need to focus next and learn more about the nematodes, spring tails etc of the soil and the micro world of diatoms in the water. Identification will likely become a growing challenge, especially as we don’t kill any animals in order to study them up close.
A couple of notable observations this year were;
- The almost complete absence of Ladybirds, following what in 2021 may have turned out to be a relatively bumper crop of these influential invertebrates. There is evidence that climate change will impact on some ladybird species, particularly those predatory species that feed on invertebrates such as aphids. If climate causes these ladybirds to stir earlier in the year (they over winter as adults) and this food source is not yet available, then their numbers could suffer. The adults of some species do however feed on plant material and even mildew, and these should be less impacted. But who really knows and the absence of ladybirds this year is likely due to some other influence, rather than a downward trend you might expect from something like climate change.
- We started to notice the disproportionately large numbers of honeybees visiting flowers compared to other bee species. We started to worry our other bees may be being out competed for this food source. It seems we are not the only ones and online sources are starting to raise this as a potential issue in some locations. For now we will keep an open mind (as we always try to do), it’s not like we can do much about it anyway. But it may turn out bee keeping is not great for any other species than the honeybees/humans themselves in certain situations/locations.
We are starting to see some of the wildflowers sown last year pop up. Wild Carrot, Oxeye Daisy and White Campion, all seem to be over wintering well. But also a number of other more aggressive species which may need hammering such as dandelion, cleavers and bittercress. Our hope was to find a balance that included these species, but experience is slowly showing us that we may need to aim for a garden without them in order to increase the overall diversity of other species.