Friday, 24 February 2012


Its official .. spring is in the air!

Venturing out today, we gave our lady elder a libation of nettle infusion to wish her well for the coming season. She is just starting to sprout buds into leaflets, so magical to see.

Pleased to see big fat healthy looking ladybirds all over the garden, particularly as the new growth on the elder was covered in aphids last year all spring/summer (I hosed them off each morning with a high power jet had a little chat and a stroke while I was at it .. nice to have that daily contact, but nicer to see hoardes of ladybirdies munching away instead!)

Which reminds me, I took a photo last autumn which I didn't get around to posting.. I had gone outside to have a little tidy up and was tying up all my tall-stemmed seed headed herbs into the fence, when I found this little ladybird party, all huddled inside an evening primrose leaf.

It made me really careful about not disturbing any of the big overgrown plants and aside from just securing things to the fence against the wind, I left everything be. So glad I did! Today I found my little ladybird friends still intact inside their (now dried out) leafy home. In fact, several little huddles on the evening primrose and one on a sage leaf. Think because the shape of these long leaves is such that they naturally curl, providing a little handy crevice for hibernating creatures. Hurray!


madhat said...

I spotted the first ladybirds yesterday too!
(I always wonder what those early ladybirds live on, when it must be WEEKS before the first aphids emerge. I wonder if they just mate, lay eggs and then die of starvation? Sad thought ...)

That's a well-loved elder you have there! :)
Can you tell me what the nettle infusion is for?

Cheryl said...

HI Hedgewitch,

Lovely to see native ladybirds and not the dreaded harlequin :)
Re you get blue tits in the garden. If you do, next time you have an outbreak pop some bird seed beneath the Elder. I find the blue tits come for the seed, and then take the aphids on the plant. I use this method all the time, it works for me :)

Nettle tea is wonderful. I also use comfrey tea during the summer months.

Have a lovely weekend and enjoy your pretty garden.

Whispering Earth said...

Hi Hedgewitch,
Your elder is looking beautiful, such a marvellous and magical plant she is!
And lovely to see the ladybirds, I haven't spotted any in our garden yet.
Great idea to water with nettle infusion, I often use the spent nettle material as a mulch around the roses which they seem to like.

ShySongbird said...

How nice to see the Ladybirds and to read that you have lots around your garden already. We get them in our bedroom, sometimes as early as January or even late December. I think they must overwinter under the tiles which clad part of the front of the house just under the bay window and when the sun comes out they are fooled into thinking Spring has arrived, I'm not sure how they get indoors but I try to put them out into a sheltered place and can only hope they survive.

Hedgewitch said...

hello madhat, the nettle infusion is a good plant food.. I am drinking a lot of nettle infusion at the moment, and when I have some left over I use it to water my plants. In this case I had left some and forgotten to strain it.. pouring the whole thing onto the soil at the base of your shrub and watering it in is supposed to be a good feed for the roots. I think because nettle is so good at drawing up all the nutrients from the soil it grows in?

Hi Cheryl, what a brilliant idea, never would have thought of that .. I will definitely try this! Much better to give the birdies a feast than waste all that water. Yes, I love seeing native ladybirds too, as we ONLY had harlequins in Tottenham.

Hi Lucinda, that's a great tip about using the spent nettle as a mulch.. I have been putting it in the compost, but maybe I'll give my rose plants some extra love this week, thank you!

Hello ShySongBird, how lovely that the ladybirds come and hibernate in your house with you! I've been thinking a lot this week about how if you lend nature a helping hand, it will come visit you to repay your kindness.. this week I was just standing drying up in the kitchen when I looked up and a pair of great tits were sitting on top of the letter box about 2 feet away from me through the window. Fantastic! Even if you can't get out into nature, if you are its friend, it will come to you :-)

Rowan said...

I've been finding lots of ladybirds as I've been clearing my garden - have moved them to sheltered places where necessary. There are lots of shoots appearing on my elder trees too.