Enormous amounts of land in the UK are managed as gardens or public greenspaces. Just imagine if more of this land could be used for butterflies and moths, creating lots of Pitstops for Pollinators! A lot of effort goes into making towns and villages look nice in the summertime, through annual bedding plant displays. Unfortunately, most of those plants are not suitable for insects as they have been bred to have flowers that last a long time, at the expense of pollen and nectar that insects consume.
One of Butterfly Conservation's volunteers, Rosemary, has led a revolution in the planting in her community in the village of Archiestown in the Scottish Highlands. Here's Rosemary's account of what she and her friends have been up to........
"Our village has tubs of flowers and hanging baskets over the summer, but none of these flowers produce nectar or pollen for bees or butterflies. I am a member of the garden group and last year suggested we include some flowers for pollinators in the display. Not only would this benefit pollinators but it would also be of interest to people walking along the street.
"The Garden Centre supplied the usual range of bedding plants for the main square in the village but we had a further 25 tubs to work with, to fill with plants for pollinators! We cleared them of weeds and with help from a couple of friends we grew flowers that would benefit pollinators.
"The results were wonderful to see. We had bees and butterflies on the flowers and lots of Large White caterpillars on the Nasturtiums. It didn't cost us much either because we used saved seed or extra flowers we were growing in our own gardens.
"In our own garden we have planted cultivated flowers, wildflowers, and shrubs that attract and benefit pollinators including butterflies. We love watching them and people passing by often stop to look. Last year we had eggs laid on the Lady's Smock (also known as Cuckoo-flower) and our first Common Blue butterfly in the garden, so I have sown the wildflower Bird's-foot-trefoil which the caterpillars of the Common Blue eat. I hope to attract more this year and even get them to lay eggs on these plants in my garden!
"If I am working in the front garden people often stop and speak so it's a great opportunity to tell them about the flowers, bees and butterflies they can see there and to give advice about how to attract bees and butterflies to their own garden.
"I also started a Facebook group, Speyside Gardening for Life, as a means of networking with like-minded gardeners in our area and sharing advice and resources to benefit wildlife."
Here's our list of top bedding plants for butterflies, to get your community buzzing with bees and butterflies!
- Hardy Geraniums
- Open-flowered Dahlia
- Nasturtium (good food for butterfly caterpillars!)