The merry month of May is here and what a month it has been so far! Lockdown has given most of us more time in the garden and the opportunity to observe wildlife, be it birds, bees or butterflies. As the world stopped, it was important to take note of what was going on around us, to stop and listen. I personally have been enthralled by the uninterrupted birdsong, no longer muffled by cars and incessant aeroplane engines. Blossom bloomed and every day another treasure seemed to appear from the undergrowth. New growth brings promise and the anticipation of summer.
Like a sundial an orchard is a great teller of the passing of time. The season can be gauged on where the fruit trees are in their cycle. I am very fortunate to work in a beautiful orchard which hosts many heritage apple varieties such as Blenheim Orange, Beauty of Bath, Ashmead Kernel and Court de Wick. Their blossom is a tremendous wildlife magnet.
A couple of years ago we had some unwanted visitors in the orchard so attempted to tackle with a pheromone trap; an organic pesticide-free method to curb codling moth. As a nature gardener I am a little torn to use these now as even pests have a place in the garden ecosystem but it was an interesting experiment to see what, if any difference the traps made.
The trap is hung in the middle of an orchard, one trap per five trees, on the side of the prevailing wind and lures in unsuspected male codling moths with a potent female pheromone. Sadly for them, rather than finding a mate they find a sticky end in the form of sticky paper which puts a stop to their amorous antics and their lifecycle so maggots will not be laid in the apples so crops will not be damaged.
The trap did indeed catch some codling moths and the apple crop definitely had a far lower level of maggot damage than the previous years. The advantage of using this method is it does not obliterate codling moth but reduces the population in a chemical-free way which does not damage the environment or surrounding wildlife.
Other garden considerations for May...leave some areas of your garden 'wild.' It provides an ideal home for wildlife which is great for pollinators. Mow the lawn into an attractive shape and your wild area will become a great garden feature.