An artist's nature update for 2019

summer landscape in scottish borders

I can't believe it has been so many months since I last wrote a blog post. So much to do, so little time. I guess we are all in the same boat.

My last post was about the fruit last autumn. In Scotland they say that a heavy crop of berries means it will be a cold and heavy winter. Let me tell you - if last autumn's heavy fruit crops on the rowans are anything to go by - it's wrong. Although we had a lot of fruit on the rowan trees we had a very scant winter in the Borders. Not much snow, which was mighty disappointing.

However, we did get a great spring, heavy with spring flowering wild plants. I have not seen such a great abundance of forget me knots as I saw this spring. Primroses in the church grounds were more plentiful than I have ever seen too - and magnificent blossom on the cherry and apple trees. Red campion, garlic mustard, star of Bethlehem... the list goes on.

blossom scottish borders

In turn the summer has been just as plentiful. Elder, dog rose, bramble (blackberry). To top it all off, in between the heat and humidity, we have had lots of rain. LOTS of rain. In return I suspect we will have a bumper harvest. Plenty of fruit is forming on all the roadside fruiting bushes. The brambles are already turning black.

Butterflies have been filling the garden too. The usual suspects - a smattering of red admirals and peacocks in the garden, orange tips and ringlets in the verges and various white butterflies at the moment. We had an explosion of small tortoiseshell butterflies in July and the biggest influx of painted ladies since 2009.

wall butterfly scottish borders

I also noted a colony of wall butterflies. These are rather rare around here. I have only seen single specimens on two other occasions over the past 15 years but this year seems to have suited them. Other rare visitors were a small copper which I have only seen once before...

small copper butterfly scottish borders

... an elephant hawkmoth and a garden full of hummingbird hawkmoths in the evenings. I just had to paint some.

hummingbird hawkmoth and elephant hawkmoth watercolour paintings

Rabbits are bounding around in larger numbers after a few years of fewer numbers. A nice opportunity to set some paintings of rabbits done. The foxes made themselves more vocal than I have heard them in a long time too and even had a hare sitting in the driveway at one point. No sign of the garden woodmice or voles though and the number of toads has been very low considering all the rain we have had. However I am hoping that next month will bring some badger sightings as the young ones look for their own territories.

rabbit and badger watercolour painting

We are moving into autumn now, my favourite time of year, along with winter. The colours, the falling leaves, the conkers and seeds from the trees, it is all wonderful. I can already see the beech masts and sycamore fruits are falling and found a conker the other day - although it is a little early for them to be fully developed inside their casings. But it means the cooler weather will be coming and the wildlife will be preparing for winter. On to the next step in the cycle of the year.