I’ve been neglecting this blog and for that I’m very sorry. There are a few very personal but pressing family and health reasons why I had to let things go a bit awry. I can’t go into them here, but trust me, it made blogging nigh on impossible.
But, with a new moon on New Year’s Day, I’m hoping things will turn around and allow me to live my life the way I’d like to. That includes blogging here. I’ve been a keen amateur naturalist and gardener all my life as well as loving photography. I’ve just had another birthday. As I’ve had quite a few now, it occurred to me I’d be being very selfish if I didn’t share what I’d learned and what I’m still learning. So I’m going to try and be less selfish and pass on what I think might help people wanting a greener, cheaper or more rewarding existence than our society tells us is ‘the norm’. There are better ways to live than feeling helpless, seeing problems and hoping it will all magically get better.
As time goes on, ‘life’s too short, mate’ seems to appear in bigger and bolder fonts in my mind. Too short to let opportunities go. Too short to hold grudges and far too short to let this old world with all its problems stop us from being ourselves and doing what we know to be right.
It’s too short not to have fun. Too short to be trapped by debt. Too short to not treasure our natural surroundings. We bought a house backing onto fields we thought would never be built on. Wrong. They’ve got planning permission and building will start shortly. I was really upset at first. But the fight is over, and I have 120ft of garden. So I will make the most of what I have.
There are plans afoot. Watch this space. I do need help as I have serious health problems. I will find that help. I want a wildlife pond. My shed needs moving so I can have raised veggie beds and leave room for a fire pit and wild flowers. I need to build a gravel path. My front garden is a mess and should be welcoming. All will somehow be done. A lot didn’t happen this last year which now HAS to happen this year. And you can join me on the journey.
If you have the will, encourage me. If you have a tip, please tell me. I’ll share my journey with you. Will you share yours?
Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly feeding on Allium Drumstick
As butterflies and moths are in serious trouble due to wet summers and massive declines in natural habitat due to intensive farming and the loss of meadows, This year conservationists are appealing to us all to help. So, here are my favourite top ten butterfly plants, based on observation of the insect life in my garden.
- The best nectar plant anyone can grow is buddleia. They are now available in dwarf form for the patio, so you don’t need a large garden or space to grow one. If you have room, grow several together, giving the butterflies a better chance of seeing them and lots more food.
- Verbena bonariensis. A gorgeous, delicate annual that is easily grown and can be left to self seed through your borders
- Nettles. Yep, nettles. If you live near waste ground and there are plenty of nettles around, you probably don’t need to have a nettle patch, but it is the food plant for many species of butterfly larvae, so worth having.
- Hawthorn, which is the home and food plant for many moths. It gives them somewhere, too to pupate in peace. My hedge comprises mainly of hawthorn. I see and am trying to identify lots of beautiful moths.
- Marjoram and oregano. I went out this morning to find these have just come into flower, and are smothered in small white butterflies eagerly feeding.
- Allium. Our Small tortoiseshell is feeding on drumstick, but all the alliums I have seem to attract plenty of butterflies when they’re around. Bees adore them, too. They happily move from flower to flower gorging themselves. As they are easy bulbs to grow and suffer no pest problems that I’ve encountered you too could have some. They will increase their own numbers in time and take up little space as they can be planted among other plants, covering their bare legs.
- Sedums. These are great plants that need little attention as they are drought tolerant. Just give them full sun and good drainage. Many are perfect for pots and alpine troughs. You can even grow them in a window box. The butterflies won’t mind!
- Cosmos. Easy annuals, bright and colourful, grow from seed or get young plug plants, often sold cheaply on your local market.
- Vetches. Native wild flowers that grow on verges and in hedgerows. Seed of many are now available through seed companies and young plants from specialist nurseries. They are food plants for larvae and adults.
- Scabious. These pretty nectar rich flowers seem to be a magnet for any butterflies around, and they spend ages on each flower head, dipping into a rich meal.Small White Butterfly Feeding On Marjoram
There is a lot more we can do. The BBC are running the Summer of Wildlife, where you can help increase the knowledge of scientists so they can further understand the needs of our precious butterflies. Their page How to Help Wildlife can start you off with all the information you need to join the growing crowd of people giving vital information to the scientists, plus TONS more information on how to help our declining wildlife in general. Their page Worrying Declines will tell you much more.
What can you do to help? What have you planted or plan to grow? I’d love to hear from you.