Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Last of the Summer Wine

The children may be back at school, but at this time year there is always the promise of a few delicious days of unexpected sunshine. One of the great pleasures is having impromptu family meals outside: making the effort, savouring the moment. Then, just as everyone is seated and about to tuck in, the wasps appear, bobbing all over the food. Before you know it, the table descends into chaos – children waving their arms hysterically, glasses knocked over, everyone agitated and hungry.

This weekend, I found a very good solution to the problem while staying with my friend Willi, who had just come back from a trip to Greece. Every evening their hostess on the island of Ikaria served delicious meals outside then proceeded to light a small container with ground coffee in (an ash tray is ideal and the grounds soon smoulder).
Even a small amount of ground coffee will stay alight for a long time and works beautifully. So, when we had lunch last week, we lit some coffee in an old metal ash tray as soon as the wasps appeared, which banished them for the whole meal.

Another method is to use a ‘Waspinator’. This is a grey bag which has been made to look like a hive (at least it does to wasps, which probably don’t have great eye sight). The wasps will keep away thinking it belongs to a rival hive. According to Steve Bradley they are extremely effective at deterring wasps and are best used in pairs, placing each bag at either end of where you are sitting at the recommended height.

One of the highlights of my recent Swedish trip (apart from all the beautiful forests and lakes) was a visit to the Linnaeus garden in Uppsala, about 50 km north of Stockholm. If you go to a garden you have to come back with seeds… The annual Hibiscus trionum ‘Timvisare’ caught my eye.
It has a very attractive pale flower with dark centre and was for sale in the gift shop. I find that it is listed on some American web-sites as an invasive weed so I would be interested to know if anyone else has come across it.