The recent warm weather has resulted in huge numbers of visitors to our late-flowering plants. We had more than 50 small tortoiseshell butterflies on one sedum (ice plant) in the courtyard beds last week.
Small tortoiseshell butterflies on sedum (Denmark Farm)
According to the results of this year’s Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count, the long spells of warm sunny weather in July and August provided a much-needed boost for our beleaguered butterflies, with four times as many recorded during this year’s Big Butterfly Count than in 2012. In all, 15 of the 21 Big Butterfly Count species increased in 2013 compared with the previous year, and 12 of these were up by at least 50%. Small tortoiseshell was at number 6 in the Top 10 list of butterfly species.
To ensure their long-term survival, it’s important to provide good habitats for butterflies and other pollinating insects. The plants in our re-designed wildlife garden – planted by volunteers as part of the ‘Wildlife Where you Live’ project – have been chosen to provide pollen and nectar from early Spring to late Autumn. It is providing a feast for the eyes at the moment, as well as the insects:
Wildlife garden at Denmark Farm
In the bottom section of the wildlife garden we have sown a small wildflower meadow, using a seed mixture containing annuals, biennials and perennials to give us instant colour this year and next while the perennials establish themselves. The wildlife garden is full of constant buzz and colour at the moment – come and visit us and have a look for yourself!
Wildflower meadow, Denmark Farm garden
Even if you have just a small space, it’s worth planting a few pollinator-friendly plants. Sedum spectabilis is great, and of course a Buddleia always draws in the crowds – you’ll be amazed at the number of butterflies which arrive. The visiting hoverflies, bees and other insects might be a little more difficult to identify, but ideal for anyone who likes a challenge. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust provide a handy guide for identifying UK’s Big 8 bumblebees, and also provide hints and tips about the best plants to grow – and those to avoid. For anyone living in and around South Wales, the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales have an afternoon talk on Wildlife Gardening at their Parc Slip reserve next Saturday 12th October 2013 at 2 pm, plus a number of downloadable guides on how you can improve your garden for wildlife and get your own garden buzzing throughout the year!