An abnormally hot week and very dry … we really should not have to be watering trees and shrubs in the second half of September, but there you are, this is the new normal. The old joke bag in England was the stereotypical newspaper headline of “Phew, worra scorcher!!” and this certainly qualifies. The local news tells us this is an all-time record Sunday we are forecast to have temperatures around 30C and a humidex of 39C and this at the end of September, too. Apparently, it’s an all-time record for this end of the year … the seasonal normal should be around 18-129C which we may get to in about a week. ON the other hand – the long-range winter forecast indicates January to March will be somewhat colder than normal. Ah well …

Gradually flowers are starting to look past their best and the first signs of autumn leaf colour are becoming evident while the daylight hours are very noticeable shorter. We haven’t seen the large groups of Goldfinches for a few days (doubtless they will return) while our unexpected summer collection of House Finches, and their latest crop of juveniles, are still here – and starting to develop the characteristic red plumage. A few Purple Finch juveniles are still hanging around. We have wondered several times on this blog why we have been seeing resident PUFIs all summer, because really they ought to have been further to the north. We still don’t know, but are glad to have them with us … which reminds us to mention, for those wildlife gardeners who look forward to winter visitors, that the annual winter Finch Forecast is now available – see for some idea of what to expect once the snows come. We also had a visit by some Cedar Waxwings that visited the Rowan berries and had a dip in the pond.

Despite the high temperatures it is several days now since we have seen any Japanese Beetles and we begin to think the regular patrols can be scaled back. Last year we found a very few in late September but it does look like their assault is coming to an end.

We are watering to try to ensure our shrubs and trees go into winter without being too drought-affected and keep good condition for the cold weather. Often more important to water at this time of year than in high summer.

End of the week – our group of juvenile Cardinals seem to have finally dispersed.

The main gardening task has been repotting J’s collection of lily bulbs from their summer terracotta pots into plastic ones for over-wintering while the terracotta pots have been dried and put into storage. A few of the hardier lilies have gone into the ground this year – well protected from squirrels with wire mesh.

Late week the screen on the kitchen window attracted a large Bald-faced Hornet that sat there cleaning its mandibles. It spent the night in the same place but by late the next day had gone – whether it departed on its own or made a meal for something bigger we don’t know; this is the time of year when Hornets and Wasps are starting to end their lives … all but the overwintering queens, that is.

Still a few stragglers from the huge (once in 30 years) burst of Painted Lady butterflies are still around the garden at the time of writing. There have been a lot of people confusing them with Monarchs who have had to be put right on the matter by us and others … by the most jaw-dropping comment was in a piece written by the chief entomologist at the Montreal Insectarium who noted that “No, madam, they are NOT baby monarchs”.

The red berries on the Winterberry bushes we planted in early summer are fat and juicy and the bushes look in good condition. Very pleased about that. These bushes were purchased from a batch we planted in the new Berry Copse at the local arboretum … wildlife gardeners will, we think, enjoy reading about that project in our “second” wildlife garden. See here:



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