Dig It – January Tips from the Secret Gardener

Peacock

Along with all the other resolutions you are making this month, why not jot down some ideas for helping butterflies and moths in your garden this year.

Add some more nectar plants

Bowles mauve and CommaAim to provide a food source for butterflies and moths from at least spring to autumn. It can be a simple as planting the evergreen Perennial Wallflower Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ which can have purple flowers all year round and is attractive to the Small Tortoiseshell and Large and Small Whites.

Having plants in flower during the winter is useful for any butterflies coming out of hibernation early on warm days. This time last year I wrote a blog on Witch Hazel, Hamamelis, which will provide both colour and nectar in January.

For moths chose something scented or white or with tubular flowers. Honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum 'Scentsation' is a climber which flowers from mid-summer to mid-autumn but in my garden, in the south of England, was still flowering in December.

Add some more foodplants

Mint mothEncourage butterflies and moths to breed by leaving a small patch of grass to grow unchecked. A wild patch provides vital foodplants for caterpillars.

If you don’t have much room you can still cater for the Mint Moth Pyrausta aurata with a pot of Mint. Bowles (Apple) Mint Mentha x villosa alopecuroides grows to 75cm with pretty flowers and can also be used for your mint sauce. A container of Nasturtiums will attract white butterflies, providing a useful distraction from your Brassica vegetables.

Watch out for the wildlife

Keep an eye on the butterflies and moths in your garden and see which plants are popular nectar or food sources, so you can grow more of them if you have space.

Hamilton House  gardenPlan to take part in our surveys. Make a note in your diary of the dates of the Big Butterfly Count (14 July to 6 August) and aim to have some plants in flower providing nectar during this period.

Moth Night this year runs from 12 to 14 October with the main theme of Ivy so you could plant one now in readiness.

If you have more time available then why not keep a record of the butterflies you find in your garden all year round with the Garden Butterfly Survey

 

Happy Gardening in 2017!

The Secret Gardener