Sunday, 26 July 2009

A guide to mulberry growing

Having seen a beautiful black mulberry tree at the New Forest Otter, Owl and Wildlife Park yesterday I'm determined to grow one. I've bought some mulberry seeds in the past, but they failed to germinate. This time I've picked up a large number of fallen mulberries and am reading up on the matter before I plant the seeds.

This is the key information that I've gleaned so far...

  • Black mulberry seeds are best planted as soon as they've been removed from the berry.

  • All of the fruit should be cleaned from the seeds to prevent moulds forming.

  • Seeds should be planted below 1mm of compost in a warm propogator and kept moist.

  • Seedlings have very fragile roots so shouldn't be handled too much.

  • Whilst the tree can survive outside, small seedlings should be brought inside or under glass during winter.

  • Mulberry trees drop their leaves at the first sign of frost, spending much of their time in a dormant state. Sometimes the dormant seedlings don't 'wake up', andt if a tree is still dormant by summer then it's unlikely to come out of dormancy. There is a solution... chopping off the top of the seedling and any existing leaves sends it into shock which encourages it to put out new leaves.

  • After a year or two the mulberry can be transplanted to their proposed location.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Helophilus pendulus

One of the most regular insect visitors to our pond is the hoverfly Helophilus pendulus. Today I found a pair mating. Upon closer examination it turned out to be three of them. Not something I've seen before, but as Ian put it I obviously need to get out more!

It looks like the pair underneath are mating and the male(?) above is waiting his turn. Given that he's grabbing her by the eyeballs I'm surprised that she hasn't driven him away.

Thursday, 9 July 2009


We have a little friend on the kitchen window at the moment. Like so many others last year this large white caterpillar decided to climb up the house wall and window to form a chrysalis on the upper sill of the window. This one fell a couple of times and eventually gave up, instead forming a chrysalis right in the middle of the window.

June 20th:

July 3rd:

Fingers crossed that we'll be lucky enough to catch it emerging in a month or so.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Pond Dip - July 2009

Having seen Jeremy's blog yesterday I was determined to get some more photographs of the dragonfly larvae in the pond.

This is a common darter:

I found two in the pond this morning.

It looks like all the broad-bodied chasers have emerged because I couldn't find any larvae today. The photo below was taken in June:

I wonder why they are so muddy compared with the darters. When they emerge from the pond they aren't muddy - maybe it's a method of avoiding predators?

I photographed this larva in August 2008. I suspect it's either an emperor dragonfly or a southern hawker.