National Trust Visitors

Anna Forrest, the NT Curator at Oxburgh Hall visited us with two of her colleagues Helen and June.   Oxburgh has a Wilderness garden which needs restoration, which once incorporated several features which are similar to those at the Plantation Garden, particularly a rustic bridge and a summer house.  They were able to take many photos of the structures and enjoyed picking Marj’s brains for planting as well.

Gates for the garden

In 2014 our beautiful gates made by David Freedman were installed by David, ably assisted by his carpenter friend, Andrew.  David has now made a railing in the same style to close off the small gap between the gatepost and the wall.  Thank you for a wonderful job.

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Hover flies in the Garden

hover-fly

It is with a fair degree of confidence that I claim to be the only PGT member who is a Syrphidologist. For clarification I study flies of the family Syphidae known as hoverflies. My interest goes wider as I have had a long term interest in insects in general but my involvement with hoverflies has become more focussed since I agreed to become the County Recorder for this group in 2012.  The establishment of this new post was in recognition of a growing interest in these often striking insects generated by the publication of illustrated guides and the spread of photo sharing websites facilitating identification.

The sunken, sheltered nature of the Garden produces a humid environment that is attractive to a range of insects. Hoverflies are inevitably well represented and since my first visit in April 2014 I have recorded 18 species. Some of these are visitors drawn to the supply of nectar and pollen with Astrantia and Eupatorium particularly popular in late summer.  From a gardening point of view there is only one “baddie” present in the Garden – the Greater bulb fly Merodon equestris whose larvae develop in bulbs of daffodil and other plants.

Many recorded species are beneficial, having larvae that are predacious on aphids.  Britain’s biggest hoverfly Volucella zonaria is present, most often observed about the shrubbery beneath the bridge where buddleia is the main attraction. This magnificent insect which mimics a hornet was a rarity in Norfolk until 2007 since when it has become widely established although it is most likely to be seen in parks and gardens. The larvae develop in the nests of wasps and hornets.   Although attempts have been made to give common names to our hoverflies this has met with limited success with only a few names (such as Marmalade hoverfly for Episyrphus balteatus and the long standing Drone fly for Eristalis tenax) used with any regularity.  As to why this should be perhaps we should look no further than Old Buttercup Cheilosia, the name given to Cheilosia albitarsis which occurs in the Garden at the foot of the west bank where its larval food plant creeping buttercup is present. No, this species is not partial to geriatric buttercups! The “old” part of the name serves to separate it from New Buttercup Cheilosia, a similar species which was added to the British list in 2000. I think Latin names will remain in use for some time yet- many are elegant and not too difficult to remember.

One objective of my research in the Norwich area is to identify those important sites that form links in the city’s green corridor. In this respect the Plantation Garden is an ecological link between Earlham Cemetery (where 67 species have been recorded ) and St Giles churchyard which supports a good range of common species in its limited wild space. To date I have recorded 18 species in the Garden but I would expect a significant number of further species to be present.

Stuart Paston – stuartpaston@yahoo.co.uk