Chambers Farm Wood Butterfly Garden

The aim in creating the Garden is to raise the profile of Butterfly Conservation, and to enthuse others to garden for butterflies & moths by:-

  • attracting butterflies into the Garden, so that visitors are able to get good views of the more common species of both butterflies and moths,
  • demonstrating the types of plants that will encourage butterflies & moths,
  • experimenting with different habitats & management regimes to minimise maintenance without reducing the Garden's attractiveness to both people and wildlife.

General View GardenThe Garden continues to be developed. It is designed to be at its best from June through to September, though we hope that it will be of some interest all the year round.

Chambers Farm Wood (Grid ref: TF 147740) is located off the B1202 Bardney to Wragby road - follow the brown signs.

The Garden is used and developed with the kind permission of the Forestry Commission.

Contact: Audrey Spring (tel: 01472 879624)


Please click link below:



Gardening: Dates and Times

Join us in the Garden:
'Weed a bit, plant a bit, relax a bit - what a way to spend a day - a workout & relaxation therapy all for free!'

 Gardening days for 2017 - all are Tuesdays - anytime between 10.00 am and 2.00 pm

January 2017
7th & 21st
4th & 18th
2nd & 16th
6th & 20th
4th & 18th

8th & 22nd (note 2nd & 4th Tues)

September 5th (BBQ - start at 4.00 pm) & 19th
October 3rd & 17th
November 7th
December None

For all gardening, please wear appropriate clothing & footwear. Tools and drinks will be provided, but bring your own if you prefer.
Please note: all dates are provisional and will depend on the weather conditions, so, please check with Audrey (tel: 01472-879624) to confirm before travelling.


Butterfly Garden Feature

BG-D.ThompsonDave Thompson has produced this superb feature on his special moments of photography at Chambers Farm Wood butterfly garden.  Please click on the link below to enjoy:





Top Ten Plants for Butterflies

  • Perennial Wallflower: 'Bowles Mauve': Apr-Sept
  • Red Valerian: May-Sept
  • Sweet Rocket: 'Hesperis Matronalis': May-June
  • Verbena Bonariensis: June-Oct: likes dry
  • Marjoram: June-Sept
  • Hebes: June-Aug
  • Purple Loosestrife: July-Aug: Likes damp
  • Buddleias varieties: July-Sept
  • Sedum varieties: Aug-Oct
  • Michaelmas Daisies: various: Aug-Oct

For more on plants, have a look at the main BC website on:


 Plant of the Moment

Winter Flowering Heather








Winter Flowering Heathers (Erica carnea sp.) - providing nectar in late winter and into spring for any early flying insects

A fantastic source of nectar at this time of the year..


News from the Garden: Our 'Blog'!

21st February 2017

  • The perfect gardening - mild and sunny. Bees were busy on the Heather, Snowdrops and on the flowering Viburnum x bodnantense. Bees on viburnum - Colin Beck
  • More Primroses were added - they provide early nectar and look so good at the base of the hedges. The hedging continues and the expertise is increasing. Brash was shredded to add to the compost heap, spent horse manure will be mixed with it next week. Last year's mix is ready to be spread liberally on the flower beds in the coming months.
  • We are starting some annuals - Borage, Agastache, Nasturtiums and Echium vulgare blue bedder - indoors as we did last year. It worked well for our cold, wet, clay soil.

Next Session: 7th March - Starting work on the more formal flower beds, weeding, dividing and adding more plants.

24th January 2017

  • A cold start for the hedgers this morning, but the sun soon appeared. Under Steve's guidance good progress is being made.
  • The winter flowering heather is opening to provide nectar for any early flying insects. Now is the time to think of how we can allHedge Laying add nectar to our gardens. Erysimum Bowle's Mauve that flowers almost all year round, Red Valerian which will continue to flower if cut back after first flowering, Marjoram popular with so many species of butterfly or Michaelmas Daisies for later in the year. If you are short on space then plant a 'Pot for Pollinators' - see Butterfly Conservation's home page for more information.

Next Sessions: 7th February for continuing to lay the hedge,
21st February for the annual mowing, dividing up perennials and planning the scheme for the annual beds.

1st November 2016

  • Today we lifted and divided large clumps of Michaelmas Daisies, reduced the height of the Buddleias to reduce wind damage and put protection around the Hebes.
  • Cuttings were shredded and added to the compost heap, although a few stalks were saved to refill the larger holes in the 'insect hotel'.
  • The highlights of the day were a Southern Hawker laying eggs in the pond plus flights of Pink Footed Geese and Whooper Swans.
  • This was our final gardening session for this year, although a small group will be working on laying the hedge during the winter, starting on Tuesday 15th November. Contact Audrey or Steve for more details.

Next Session: Tuesday 21st February 2017

18th October 2016

  • The tall Harrington's Pink Michaelmas Daisies are still going and attracting Red Admirals and Commas. Such a good plant with a long and late flowering season. It stands without support and does not get mildew - what more could you ask.
  • Now it is over to the flowering Ivy which should keep the Red Admirals going for at least another month or so if the weather is kind.
  • A group of willing volunteer gardeners opened up the paths, filled the pond and cut down the Michaelmas daisies that have Comma and Red Admiral on Harrington's Pink Michaelmas Daisies - Colin Becksmall white flowers, great for insects but has designs on taking over the whole garden if left to go to seed.
  • A start was made on cutting back the long hedge which was laid ten years ago - this winter we may re-lay it. If you are interested in having a go at hedge laying please contact Audrey or Steve.
  • All the trimmings and cuttings from the garden go into the compost heap but not before being shredded - making better and quicker compost to go back on the garden.

Next Session: Tuesday 1st November - putting protection around the Hebes and splitting clumps of perennials.

4th October 2016

  • The magnificent tall Harrington's Pink Michaelmas Daisies were alive with Red Admirals and Commas plus lots of bees, from the moment we arrived until we left - so beautiful. It is reassuring to see so many butterflies, as most of us have had so few in our gardens in the last month. We pondered the cause, and did wonder if the lack of good nettle beds in suburban areas may have something to do with it.
  • The other source of delight was the discovery of a large honey bees nest inside the roof of the shed - amazing.Wild Honey bee nest
  • The down to work - today we were working through the more formal beds, identifying plants to be kept and those like the Teasels and Knapweed that would be better in the wilder parts of the garden. Others like the Marjoram (a great plant but with ambitious tendencies) that are out-growing their space. Then adding fresh seedlings like Sweet William for next year's display.
  • The annual beds were cleared to creat seed beds for Honesty, Eryngiums (Sea Holly varieties) and Sheep's Sorrel etc over the winter - netting them to deter local four-legged wildlife.
  • Young Devil's bit Scabious plants grown from seed were planted to increase the population of these plants in a damper area. A second Alder Buckthorn was pollarded - we did one last year which produced a good crop of young shoots which the Brimstones seem to prefer for egg laying. We have also started to reduce the oxygenating plants in the pond, leaving the plants on the side of hte pond for hte wildlife in them to escape back into the pond.

Next Session: Tuesday 18th October - Continuing with checking through the flower beds and collecting and sowing seeds for next year.

6th September 2016

  • The Small Tortoiseshells have arrived at last - at least 42 in the garden, mostly concentrated on the Sedum and Michaelmas Daisies. What a joy to see!Small Tortoiseshell on Aster - John Spring
  • Not a lot of gardening today as it was an afternoon start followed by our 'end of summer' BBQ.....but we did fill the pond, mow the grass and deadhead the Buddleias to extend the flowering and to reduce the excessive seeding of the Hemp Agrimony.
  • It proved to be the perfect evening for a BBQ, attended by 26 - all gardening and reserve workers.2016 BBQ - John Spring

Next Session: Tuesday 20th September - cutting down some perennials to limit seeding. Planting more Devilsbit Scabious etc. Reviewing this year's successes and failures and planning for next year.

23rd August 2016

  • The garden looks stunning today, with massed ranks of Purple Loosestrife, Golden Rod, Buddleias, Fleabane and Marjoram. The Golden Rod literally 'hummed' with insects. Magnificent heads on both the Joe Pye Weed and the Globe Artichokes were making bold statements in the border.Red Admiral on Fleabane - Colin Beck
  • It was almost too hot for gardening so we concentrated our efforts on mowing the grass and deadheading the Buddleias to ensure a prolonged display of flower heads.
  • Peacocks were the predominant butterfly, with a good number of fresh looking Brimstones, Large Whites. Painted Ladies and Red Admirals but few Small Tortoiseshells.
  • Identifying the butterflies using the left over Big Butterfly Count leaflets proved very popular with visiting children and their parents.
  • There were dragonflies around the pond, a Hawker and a number of Common Darters.

Next Session: 6th September starting at 4.00 pm with a BBQ for the volunteers at 6.00 pm.

9th August 2016

  • A garden full of butterflies today - mostly Peacocks on the Buddleias, but also White and Red Admirals, Painted Lady, Brimstone (male and female), Gatekeepers, Brown Argus and Whites but no Small Tortoiseshells. The Puple Loosestrife is at its best with the Golden Rod just opening - what a combination! The Marjoram is also smothered with insects.Peacock on Buddleia davidii - John Spring
  • We deadheaded the Buddleias and will continue to do so to encourage them to produce more flowerheads. It is time to take stock of the new annual beds - what has done well and what hasn't and generally taking notes for next year. Seeds of Echium, Anni Majus and Phacelia, plants of which all did well, were collected for drying.
  • The Alder Buckthorn that we reduced in height last year, has lots of berries which we will collect as they ripen and hope to raise more seedlings.

Next Session: Tuesday 23rd August - more seed collection and reviewing the success or otherwise of each flower bed.

19th July 2016

  • So hot today - a small group started early then retreated into the shade as the temperature rose, but we did have lots of butterfllies - all the Whites including Marbled White in the car park, Small Skipper, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Gatekeeper and Ringlets. Also lots of visitors, some photographers of course and others interested in the general flora and fauna. So plenty of opportunities to talk about the flowers and the wildlife in the garden and the wood.Corn Marigold and Photographer - D. Thompson
  • Despite the hot weather we were able to continue preparing the garden for the Branch Open Day (Open Day on Sunday 31st July from 10 am with a guided walk at 11 am. The Moth Night is on the previous evening from 9.30 pm onwards). The star flowers of the day were the Corn Marigolds in the new annual beds.

Next Session: Tuesday 9th August - collecting seeds and self sown biennials. Also dead heading to prolong flowering.

5th July 2016

  • Just two weeks and how everything has grown - wanted or not. Still the weather was good so we set to tackling the dead-heading and the weeds. The Pulmonaria was trimmed to the ground, it will soon grow fresh leaves, to make room for more Marjoram and some more annuals. Half of the brilliant Red Valerian was cut back to produce a second flowering.
  • The new annual beds were looking good with blue Cornflower, Echium, Borage, Phacelia, Cerinthe,yellow/orange Corn Marigolds, Marigolds, Nasturtiums and a few red poppies.Large Skipper on Red Valerian - James Hewson
  • There were butterflies and moths - Small Tortoiseshells, Large Skippers, Ringlet, Speckled Wood, Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoths, 6-Spot Burnets, Blood Vein and a White Plume moth.
  • If that was not enough, the resident Grass Snake spent most of the day sloughing off its skin under our very eyes and cameras - we were happy!

Next Session: Tuesday 19th July - final preparations for the Open Day on Sunday 31st July.

21st June 2016

  • Another hot day, everything is flourishing, due to the recent rainfall perhaps. The new annual beds are filling out well, with the Phacelia and Echium Blue Bedder already attracting lots of bees. Elsewhere Red Valerian is the star, providing nectar for lots of Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoths - a regular for us now. The larval foodplant is Wild Honeysuckle. Mullien moth caterpillars were making short work of Verbascums and Figwort.Common Spotted Orchid - Colin Beck
  • Great excitement - our seemingly resident Grass Snake was seen by everybody by the compost heap today.
  • We think there are at least one hundred heads of Common Spotted Orchid in the garden.
  • Our work at this time of the year is to try to keep on top of the weeds and cut back the flowers that are over, to allow room for the next plants to flower. It is also time to cut back some plants like Red Valerian that are past their best to encourage a second flowering, or cutting back any tall leggy Marjoram which if some parts are reduced in height now, will lengthen the flowering period.Four Spot Chaser - Colin Beck
  • Butterflies seen today were: Small Tortoiseshell and Small White - disappointing. A Blackcurrant Clearwing was seen by the shed. Broad bodied and Four Spot Chaser dragonflies and Azure and Large Red Damselflies were seen by the pond.

Next Session: Tuesday 5th July. Potting up plants for the Open Day.

7th June 2016

  • Scorching hot today, it wasn't just the flowers that were wilting! It definitely was not the right time of the year to have a three week break - everything had grown so much it was difficult to know where to start. Fortunately there were lots of us, so we set to Rock Rose - James Hewsonweeding and removing the now spent Forget-me-nots. We planted Agastache, Verbena bonariensis and Marigolds. The new annual beds are flourishing, Cornflower, Anni Majus, Phacelia and Echium already to burst into flower - we filled the gaps with more Cosmos and Echium and watered well hoping they will establish themselves in this hot weather.
  • Others topped up the pond, mowed the grass and turned the compost heap. Colin was able to mark lots more Orchids this year.
  • Butterflies today - Orange tip, Speckled Wood, and a Painted Lady in the lane. Up to five Broad Broad bordered Bee Hawkmoth - James Hewsonbordered Bee Hawkmoths were seen on the Red Valerian.
  • Broad bodied Chaser, Azure and Large Red Damselflies were busy around the pond.

Next Session: 21st June - taking cuttings from shrubs and putting in canes for the Bindweed

17th May 2016

  • Another perfect day for gardening - we are being lucky this year. Lots of plants to put in today, but the new raised beds looked full. On closer inspection we realised they were full of weed seedlings presumably brought in with the second quality top soil. We did wonder what the difference was between grade 1 and grade 2 top soil - now we know. It was a challenge to decide which seedlings had been sown and which had not. Next year we will sow in straight lines as advised by experts to cope with this exact situation.
  • Today we planted in the original raised bed with Hyssop, shrubby Salvia - Hot Lips, more Bowles Mauve and Valerian. On the scree bed more Thyme, in the formal beds new Hebes, Sweet William and Nicotiana and on the annual bed Cosmos, Nasturtiums, Echium and Anni Majus.Brimstone eggs on Alder Buckthorn - James Hewson
  • A new bed of Fleabane and Borage was created, which skilled volunteers surrounded with a low wicker fence made from Hazel sticks.
  • The highlight of the day was watching a female Brimstone egg laying on a small Alder Buckthorn sapling. Butterflies seen today - Brimstone, Orange tip and Speckled Wood.

Next Session: 7th June Take cuttings from shrubs, fill in any spaces on the annual bed, work on the Buddleia bed and put in canes for Bindweed.

3rd May 2016

  • A perfect day for gardening - warm and still. Inspected the new annual beds, the recently frosty nights had taken out the Nasturtiums which was a surprise and given the newly planted Cosmos a shock, but I think they will recover. The Cornflower seedlings had stood up well and lots of seeds were showing through.
  • We added more plants - Calendula, Echium Blue Bedder, Anni Majus, Phacelia, Companularia and more Centaurea. Borage and Agastache next time. Hot weather is forcast so fingers crossed they all survive.
  • Some of the Buddleias were replaced with new specimens and raised up in the ground to improve their drainage.
  • We continued to work through the more formal beds - weeding, sorting, dividing and re-planting the good nectar producing Orange tip male - James Hewsonperennials.
  • Pulmonaria, Forget-me-nots, Honesty and Erysimum Bowles Mauve are putting on a good show. Comfrey is proving very attractive to bees - once the flowers are over we shall trim the leaves back and add to the compost heap, it will soon produce new growth.
  • Our first Orange tip was seen on Erysimum Bowles Mauve and Brimstones seen in the car park. There were lots of tadpoles or 'toadpoles' more probably in the pond.

Next Session: Tuesday 17th May - turning the composst, more sowing, planting and keeping on top of the weeds.

19th April 2016

  • Having heard that the garden was flooded, we feared the worst - it was wet but workable. We then discovered that animals (wild or domestic) had had a good rake through our newly seeded annuals bed. Were we down-hearted? No!
    The sun was Flooded BC garden - Mary Portershining and there was cake.
  • The annual bed was sorted, seedlings of hardy annuals (Cornflowers, Nasturtiums and Cosmos) were planted - they could survive a few cold nights. Seeds of Candytuft, Poached Egg plants and Night Sented Stocks were added. Then all three beds were netted to avoid a repeat of last week.
  • It was perfect timing for sorting the formal beds - weeding, sorting, dividing and re-planting the perennials like Hemp Agrimony, Michaelmas Daisies, Astrantia and Sedums. We also added more of the wonderful Erysimum Bowles Mauve which flowers all the year, but does need replacing every 2-3 years. It is easy to start cuttings from the mature plants at this time of year.
  • Our compost heap provided plenty of rich mulch to spread on the big perennial beds.Erysimum Bowles mauve - James Hewson
  • The Honesty is starting to flower ready to attract the Orange tip butterflies - not many plants this year, must remember to spread more seed later in the year.
  • No butterflies in the garden but Brimstones, both male and female were seen flying up and down the lane. No Toadspawn to be seen either, lets hope they have hatched already, but the Newts were active.

Next Session: Tuesday 3rd May - taking a good look at the Buddleias. The garden is generally so wet that they are struggling, so we shall try and improve conditions and re-plant.

5th April 2016

  • An early start today and by 10.15 am we had shifted two tons of fresh top soil into the newly created raised beds - then we paused for a welll earned coffee and cake. Phacelia (brilliant for insects), Corn Marigolds and Corncockle (native wildflowers) were sown directly into the new bed. Other annuals (Cornflowers, Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Agastache, Bugloss and Cosmos) have been started indoors, along with Candytuft will be added next session.Earth Moving Gang
  • Elsewhere in the garden the grass was given its first cut of the year, the pond was topped up and we continued the task of working through the more formal beds - weeding, moving and adding well tried perennials.
  • We planted Lavender plants (grown from cuttings of existing plants) together with Sedums, Red Valerian and Marjoram (self seeded in the garden) in the raised herb bed.
  • The Heather was still brilliant, with lots of Primroses (each year we add more) and Pulmonaria. Cowslips, Forget-me-nots, Marsh Marigolds and Red Valerian were starting to flower.
  • Fortunately the rain held off, but it was again too cold for butterflies. Newts and Toads were seen in the pond so hopefully there will be some Toadspawn next time.

Next Session: 19th April - continuing to seed and plant the new annual beds. Pruning Buddleias if needed.

15th March 2016

  • A cold misty morning. we quickly had the bonfire going, fortunately the wood was dry and the air was still so that was soon done. The ash and charcoal will go on the flower beds. Meanwhile, the 'construction team' set about creating frames for three raised beds out of used scaffolding boards.
  • We have been struggling over the years to create a good bed for annuals in our wet soil, so we have decided to experiment with some raised beds. By the end of the session we had three - there was much debate on how to arrange them. Finally deciding on an off-set row (see photo). Raised Beds in the Making - James Hewson
  • They will be lined with a porous membrane, filled with topsoil and sown with butterfly friendly annuals. Hopefully visitors will be inspired to do something similar in their own garden - our aim as always is to encourage people to garden for wildlife and butterflies in particular.
  • The Heather is still providing the bees with pollen. Primroses and Pulmonaria are now in flower too.
  • It was far too cold today to see any butterflies, but several volunteers have seen Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock butterflies in their own gardens in the last few days.

Next Sesssion: 5th April - Finishing the raised beds and sowing annuals.

1st March 2016

  • A late start today due to the rain, but fortified by Rock Buns and coffee, we soon made a start on the raking following the annual mowing completed for us last week by John and Peter.Heather close up
  • No chance of burning the brash this week however, as everything is sodden. So the bonfire will have to wait until next time. In fact the ground was too wet to do any work on the beds. Instead we collected up soil from the mole hills and potted up the self-sown seedlings of Red Valerian which proved so attractive to the Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoths last year. It wasn't only us that liked the mole hills - a large sleepy Toad was found hiding in one.
  • The sun finally emerged at midday and within an hour the winter Heather was buzzing with Honey bees - see the photo of the bee with its pollen baskets full of pollen.Bee on Heather
  • We finished the day by giving the paths a good sweep.
  • Unsurprisingly no butterflies, but plenty of birds about - notably Buzzard (a regular now), Sparrowhawk and a number of Bullfinches.

Next Session: Tuesday 15th March - Working through the flower beds, weeding, sorting and planting. Also checking the state of the paths to see what repairs we can make.

16th February 2016

  • A cold and frosty start to the new gardening year but the sun and the work soon warmed us up. It took most of the morning to cut down the perennials in the more formal beds and the rest were prepared for the annual mowing later in the month.
  • Stalks were shredded and added to the compost heap, trying not to disturb the heap too much in case the Grass snake is in residence.Garden in Winter - J. Spring
  • The Hebes that we had put protection around seemed to have survivied the winter so far.
    More work was done on the Buddleia bed, but it was hard going - due to the heavy, wet clay that is not ideal for Buddleias.
  • The Winter Heathers are flowering well, providing a good early nectar source for early emerging butterflies, but no butterflies braved the cold today.
  • More Primroses were added by the hedge, these and the Pulmonarias are starting to flower.
  • We have decided to start the annuals inside this year as our soil is so wet. It takes too long for the soil to warm up enough to sow directly into the ground.

Next Session: Tuesday 1st March 2016. Raking up after the annual mow.