These are regular visitors to Tilford Cottage garden. Special features: The adult mullein moths are dark brown at the leading edges of the wings – fading to a cream colour at the trailing edges. The trailing edges of the wings are deeply serrated. These moths are easily attracted to lights at night. The mullein moth gets its name from the caterpillars which can usually be found feeding on the mullein plant in June and July.
With the increasing spread of urbanisation bringing about a reduction in the amount of natural meadow land spaces this has played a part in reducing the amount of natural habitat for butterflies. However, the good news is that you don’t have to put in a great deal of effort to entice these wonderful creatures into your garden. Butterflies are so synonymous with glorious British weather and can help make an already beautiful garden into a magical summer paradise and butterfly garden. The Importance of Nectar To Butterflies Even if you’re garden is tiny, butterflies will still be attracted to it as long as you have planted suitable nectar plants as it’s the nectar from the flowers that supplies the adult butterfly with food. To increase the proliferation of butterflies in your garden, you should plant suitable flowers such as bluebells, dandelions, pansies, primroses, sweet William and wallflowers for spring and if you want to encourage butterflies to stay right through from spring to autumn, in the late summer you should have chrysanthemum, French marigold, forget-me-nots, lavender, mint or honeysuckle etc. In fact, your garden centre will be able to give you plenty of advice of nectar bearing plants of both spring and summer varieties to create a suitable butterfly garden. You should also plant the flowers in sunny but sheltered spots as butterflies enjoy the warmth and the more different species of plants you have in your butterfly garden, the greater the variety of species of butterflies you’re likely to attract. Keep them well-watered too as this helps them produce far more nectar. Don’t Forget The Caterpillars In Your Butterfly Garden You can also boost the population of butterflies in your wildlife garden by providing a good food source for caterpillars. Nettles, Sweet Rocket and Garlic Mustard are all ideal and most common species of butterfly will be happy to lay their eggs on these plants. Most caterpillars will not cause noticeable damage but if you have problems with caterpillars eating the likes of your cabbage leaves in your garden, take time to pick them off as opposed to spraying with pesticides. Alternatively, some gardeners prefer to cover their cabbages with fleece during spring time to stop butterflies from laying their eggs there. For those who are not that keen on having nettles growing amidst other garden plants, you might prefer to plant some nettles in pots instead and bury the pots in the ground in a sunny area where they will do the same job but not get out of control. If you grow herbs, plant enough in the garden for both yourself and the caterpillars as they enjoy eating things like fennel, parsley and dill too and this will help to keep them away from other flowers in your garden. A Butterfly Garden During The Winter Months The less you tidy up your garden over the winter, the better it will be for the following year’s butterfly population so that caterpillars or pupae of butterflies lay undisturbed. And, although the average life span of a butterfly in its adult form is around 4 weeks, a few species, such as tortoiseshells, can actually live through the winter months and do so by tucking themselves away in deep vegetation or ivy and can even take up residency and hibernate in sheds. By offering the right environment for both butterflies and caterpillars to flourish, you’ll be rewarded with a marvellous butterfly garden spectacle during the summer and you’ll have played your part in maintaining a wildlife garden tradition that has always seemed uniquely and quintessentially British. Here in Tilford Cottage Garden we encourage butterflies in any way we can. We counted 15 species of butterfly this season: Brimstone, Orange Tip, Small Tortoise shell, Small copper, Small blue, Small Skipper, Meadow brown, Small and Large white, Red admiral, Painted lady, Comma, Silver washed fritillary, Speckled wood, Wall. These are a few plants that will readily attract butterflies to your garden Aubretia, Aubrieta ‘Doctor Mules'; a carpet-forming plant that produces rich violet or blue flowers in May and June. Sweet rocket, Hesperis matronalis; deliciously scented plant that produces white, violet or purple flowers from May to August. Red valerian, Centranthus ruber; a cottage garden plant that produces clusters of red flowers from mid-summer through to autumn. Great for dry soil. Lavender, Lavandula; a familiar garden favourite, producing white, pink, blue or purple aromatic flowers during the summer months. Flowers and foliage are used for making pot-pourri. Honesty, Lunaria annua; a tall plant with heart-shaped leaves and sweet-smelling pink or violet-purple flowers from April to June. Teasel, Dipsacus fullonum; a plant that produces spiny flower-heads of pinkish purple from mid- to late summer. Small scabious, Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue'; a long-flowering plant that produces lavender-blue flowers from late spring well into autumn. Butterfly bush, Buddleja davidii; this plant produces cone-shaped clusters of tiny flowers in either purple, white, pink, or red. Irresistible to butterflies! Golden rod, Solidago ‘Goldenmosa'; a clump-forming border plant that produces feathery, golden flower-heads in late summer and early autumn. Ivy, Hedera helix; an evergreen climbing vine that will provide winter nectar for the few remaining butterflies in your garden.