|Gatekeeper - making the most of July warmth.|
The summer banquet
The Butterfly Conservation people have a page on Gardening with butterflies in mind. They list the best plants for summer nectar and these are very much in line with my expectations. One of the more useful hints is to plant nectar rich plants in sunny parts of the garden.
|Peacock on Verbena Bonariensis - July|
|Holly Blue on Marjoram - July|
Snacking through the rest of the year
|Small Copper on Aster - September|
|Red Admiral on Mahonia - November|
|Brimstone on Sweet Violets - March|
|Speckled Wood on Bowles Mauve Perennial Wallflower - May|
Caterpillars need to eat too
|Peacock on Stinging Nettle - June|
Metamorphose in peace
|Green-Veined White on Garlic Mustard - I check old stems before composting|
Do butterflies dream of electric flowers?
I don't know if butterflies sleep but they do need somewhere hide away at night. If I brush against our hedge as I pass it first thing, a cloud of brown and orange butterflies - Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers - appears. While taking evening walks along the A45, which runs alongside a hotel I regularly stayed in while at Birmingham, I saw Large Whites disappear into the canopies of trees alongside the road. So hedges, shrubs and trees provide butterflies with useful shelter.
I think we are doing reasonably well with our butterflies but I need to focus more on caterpillar food plants. Of those mentioned in the Butterfly Conservation (pdf) list, we have all sorts of rough grasses, Bird's Foot Trefoil, Garlic Mustard, Violets, Blackthorn, Sorrel/Dock, Holly and Ivy. This means I have both butterflies and food plants. The next step is to find out if the butterflies are breeding in the garden - and that means getting down on my hands and knees to find caterpillars.