Ready for a lit­tle flut­ter?

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Yourviews -

WBlue Wave but­ter­fly sit­ting on a leaf IN­TER is the time to spread flut­ters of joy through the gar­den – or at least plan for but­ter­flies to fly dain­tily from bloom to bloom in our sum­mer plots.

But­ter­flies epit­o­mise na­ture and all that is good and healthy in our eco-sys­tems. Dis­ney adopted them to sym­bol­ise play­ful land­scapes and lazy days out­doors.

But why, in tur­bu­lent Jan­uary, not to men­tion dour Fe­bru­ary, would we think of these de­light­ful crea­tures?

Be­cause by putting a bit of thought now into what we need for a but­ter­fly gar­den it will en­able us to un­der­stand their re­quire­ments and gar­den ac­cord­ingly. They need cover to lay their eggs over win­ter, some slightly un­tidy ar­eas such as meadow and net­tles to al­low the lar­vae to feed in spring, then pollen pro­duc­ing plants and seeds which will pro­vide the sweet food that fu­els their dance.

Three-quar­ters of but­ter­fly species are in de­cline in Bri­tain. Habi­tat de­struc­tion is thought to be a key fac­tor in their demise and this is where gar­den­ers can do their bit.

But­ter­flies are an in­di­ca­tor of a healthy bio­di­ver­sity and are a key part of the food chain. They also play a big part in plant pol­li­na­tion.

Cre­at­ing a gar­den that at­tracts but­ter­flies is easy – it’s a mat­ter of choos­ing a nice com­bi­na­tion of plants that they and moths are at­tracted to, and pro­vid­ing the flora and con­di­tions which en­able their com­plete life cy­cle. WHAT PLANTS DO THEY LOVE? IDE­ALLY you need to keep them well fed from March through Novem­ber. The but­ter­fly bush, bud­dleja, would def­i­nitely be their favourite dish. They also like laven­der, es­cal­lo­nia, cary­opteris, hawthorn, black­ber­ries, heathers and hebes. A hun­gry cater­pil­lar feed­ing on heather and a wel­com­ing bed of tasty Nas­tur­tiums

But you don’t need to have heaps of space ei­ther – the bal­cony gar­dener or court­yard dweller can plant peren­ni­als and colour­ful an­nu­als that will tickle their taste buds.

There are many scrump­tious flow­ers such as corn­flow­ers, sin­gle-flow­ered dahlias, he­liotrope, ver­bena, sol­idago, alyssum, echi­nacea, se­dums, aubre­tia, cal­en­du­las, asters, zin­nias and di­anthus that will pro­vide nec­tar. And they love Two of the UK’s finest but­ter­flies: A red Ad­mi­ral, main im­age, feasting on a bud­dleia and, in­set, a Pea­cock on a dahlia to sink their pro­boscises into na­tive flow­ers, so looses­trife, va­le­rian, teasel, dan­de­lions, but­ter­cups, an­gel­ica and clover will sig­nal your gar­den as a wildlife-friendly zone.

You will also need to pro­vide food for cater­pil­lars. Cab­bage grow­ers and read­ers of the chil­dren’s clas­sic The Very Hun­gry Cater­pil­lar know all too well how much grub they re­quire to fuel their me­ta­mor­pho­sis. But you can re­di­rect them to nas­tur­tiums, net­tles, this­tles, meadow grasses, docks, sor­rel, and even holly and ivy.

As with all gar­den­ing where we are con­cerned with the crea­tures that sur­round us which en­able a healthy en­vi­ron­ment, lay off the chem­i­cals.

If we gar­den with na­ture, us­ing the aids that it pro­vides, it’ll make the but­ter­flies – and us – hap­pier gar­den­ers. Wood sor­rel in flower and, be­low, globe this­tles

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