Dig It - June tips from the Secret Gardener

Red Admiral

There is still time to get planting in preparation for next month’s Big Butterfly Count.

It’s easy to make your garden attractive to butterflies - just provide some lovely nectar plants. At last the soil is warming but still damp, so shrubs and herbaceous plants planted now will settle and grow quickly.

A good butterfly garden can attract up to 18 species of butterfly such as Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Holly Blue, Brimstone, Large White and Small White.

Flowers composed of many tiny tube-shaped florets have a plentiful supply of nectar which collects in the bottom of the tubes – these include Cone Flower Echinacea purpurea, Orange Daisy Erigeron aurantiacus and Caucasian Scabious Scabiosa caucasica ‘Perfecta’.

Other nectar plants popular with butterflies include Verbena bonariensis, Coreopsis grandiflora, Goldenrod Solidago spp., and Hyssop Hyssopus officinalis.

If you don’t have much room, then just make sure you plant a Buddleia.

Buddleia davidii lives up to its alternative name of the ‘butterfly bush’ and is a favoured nectar source for many butterflies.

Buddleia can be invasive and shouldn’t be planted where it can seed into wild areas.

Red Valerian Centranthus ruber and Yarrow Achillea millefolium are attractive to butterflies and will also provide moths with nectar, ready for Moth Night on 8 to 10 August.

Night-scented plants are particularly important for moths, so include in your garden Honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum, Evening Primrose Oenothera spp., and Tobacco plant Nicotiata alata.

At the moment you might see some amazing hawk-moths in your garden. The immigrant Humming-bird Hawk-moth likes to nectar from tubular flowers such as Buddleia, Red Valerian and Lilac Syringa vulgaris.

The Privet Hawk-moth will be flying in June and July and the caterpillars could be seen from July to September on their foodplants such as Lilac, Honeysuckle, Viburnum tinus, and Garden Privet Ligustrum ovalifolium. Why not try growing a Honeysuckle through an established Lilac.

The striking pink and green Elephant Hawk-moths are flying until July and caterpillars might be seen from now on Hardy Fuchsia Fuchsia magellanica.

 Creating a garden attractive to butterflies and moths will also provide you with a beautiful place to relax.

 The Big Butterfly Count runs from 20 Jul to 11 Aug

Happy Gardening,

The BC Towers 'Secret Gardener'