Ian’s Gardening Tales From The Weald – Butterflies and Nectar Plants

Ian is a Gardens Manager living in Crowhurst, working as part of a team in three large country gardens in the Sussex and Kent Weald, where he is passionate about natural gardening.

I always enjoy July in the gardens as by now we can enjoy & savour the life all around us.

Painted Lady Butterfly
Painted Lady Butterfly

The first brood birds have fledged, the bees are abundant, the flush of summer flowers are in full display. In July I particularly enjoy the presence of our native
butterflies & moths. Mid month see’s the start of Butterfly Conservation’s ‘Big Butterfly Count’. I personally print off the check list they provide online for my
staff & for clients of ours & particularly their children or grandchildren.

Obviously, the Buddleja is the number one nectar plant for our Lepidoptera attracting 18 different species of butterflies alone. These are; Brimstone, Comma, Common Blue, Gatekeeper, Green-veined White, Holly Blue, Large Skipper, Large White, Meadow Brown, Painted Lady, Peacock, Red Admiral, Small Copper, Small Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White,Speckled Wood and Wall Brown.

Other plants we grow with butterflies in mind and in flower in July include; Verbena bonariensis, Centaurea nigra (Common Knapweed), Eupatorium maculatum, Oreganum vulgare (Oregano), Knautia arvensis (Scabious),Centranthus ruber (Red Valerian),Cirsium arvensis (Thistle) and Eryngium maritimum (Sea Holly).

My personal favourite butterfly is the ‘Painted Lady’, a long distance migrant to our gardens coming from North Africa, the Middle East & central Asia. The photograph is an example of one resplendent on a garden bench in Kent in 2015.

Ian Donovan: Hips and Haws Gardening, Crowhurst

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