Update 30th July – see photos at the end of this post!
Harry Cook, Thompson & Morgan trial panel member, and his wife Pat are members of It’s Your Neighbourhood with Loughborough in Bloom and look after the area called ‘The Green Belt’ around their house. Here Harry writes about the wildflowers that they’ve been planting.
Wildflower planting in The Green Belt
Last year was the year of the wildflowers for Britain In Bloom and Charnwood Borough Council ‘Green Spaces Access To Nature’ planted up large areas of wildflowers around the town. These areas were sprayed with a specifically-targeted non-residual weed killer and then rotavated. Voluntary groups then sowed the seeds and raked them in – we had a wonderful display for the RHS judges to see. At the end of the year the plants were mown and left for the seeds to drop and then raked off.
The Green Belt area by our house also had areas sown with wildflowers last year. It was mown in autumn for the seeds to drop and in spring this year l over-sowed the area by slitting the ground with a Sisis pierce. This made it easy to sow the seeds, which l mixed with dry sand then raked in with as little ground disturbance as possible. All seeds are up and looking good. We have also planted foxgloves among the wildflowers and at the side a brook that runs through the park we have a large area of ransom (wild garlic) with lovely white flowers.
Ransoms (wild garlic)
This is a list of the wildflowers and grass seeds used:
Slender creeping red fescue
Wildflowers doing nicely
Update 30th July 2013
As you can see, the wildflowers are doing very well…
Whatever size your garden is, there are lots of flowers you can plant to encourage butterflies.
Encouraging butterflies into your garden
The recent ‘State of Nature’ report showed that common garden butterfly populations have declined by 24% in the last 10 years. In the last century, 4 butterflies and over 60 moths became extinct. Destruction of their natural habitats is partly to blame, as are changes in climate and weather and pollution.
Butterflies aren’t just there to be pretty either, they indicate whether the environment and ecosystems are healthy – areas that have high numbers of butterflies and moths are more likely to have high numbers of other invertebrates. They are also an important food source for birds, bats and other animals. Without butterflies,
The Butterfly Conservation website has a wealth of information on what we can do as individuals to help butterfly populations.
There are many plants that will attract butterflies, many of which are perfect for growing in containers. So even if you’ve only got a small garden or balcony, you can still do your bit. In a large container (preferably at least 60cm in diameter) plant up either a buddleja or lavender plant in the middle and then surround this with a mixture of marjoram, heather, aubretia, evening primrose or sedum. Aim for 3 or 4 varieties around the ‘main’ plant, depending on the size of your container. Keep the plants well watered, so that they keep producing nectar.
If you’ve got a large garden and the luxury of space, you could create a butterfly border with a mixture of nectar plants to provide a food source for butterflies from spring to autumn. Plant as many different varieties as you can, packing the plants into your border in groups to make it easier for butterflies to locate them.
Grow native wildflowers
You could even create a wildflower ‘meadow’, which provides nectar for food and somewhere for the butterflies to lay their eggs. It’s quite easy to do, especially if you’ve got an area in your garden that already has some long grass growing in it. Sow some wildflower seeds in pots or module trays and once they’re ready for planting out, plant them in your wildflower meadow. Cut the grass a few times in the first year, so that the flowers don’t get smothered by it, but in following years you can leave it to grow and just cut it back at the end of the season, once the flowers have set seed.
Here are some tips on how to encourage butterflies into your garden:
- Choose single flowers – they have far more nectar than double flowers and plant them in a sunny, sheltered spot.
- Deadhead them regularly to encourage more flowers and, if you’re growing them in containers, keep them well watered.
- Adding organic mulch will stop your plants drying out so quickly.
- Avoid using pesticides, insecticides or any other garden chemicals – they kill butterflies and other beneficial insects
- Use peat-free compost
- Plant buddleja to attract different species of butterflies – in fact, it’s a favourite of 18 species!
Lunaria, sedum, lavender, honeysuckle and forget-me-not
Other flowers to include in your butterfly garden are:
See our ‘plants for wildlife‘ page for the full list of flowers to grow in your butterfly garden.
And lastly, take part in the Big Butterfly Count (20th July – 11th August 2013) to record butterflies in your area and submit your findings online.
Win a Wildflower Collection plus 10 packets of Wildflower Seed worth over £40
This competition is now closed. We’re delighted to announce that the winner is Emma Squire from Leicestershire. Please visit our main competitions page for more chances to win prizes.
Win wildflower plants and seeds
This week is National Gardening Week and to celebrate we’re giving one lucky reader the chance to win a Wildflower Collection. Wildlife is on the decline and creating your own mini meadow will attract beneficial insects and birds to your garden, many of which will act as pollinators and natural pest control!
The Wildflower Collection contains 20 Postiplugs™ – 2 of each variety – of foxglove, self-heal, lady’s bedstraw, ox-eye daisy, cornflower, ragged robin, field scabious, common knapweed, meadow buttercup and teasel. PLUS you’ll receive 10 packets of Wildflower Seed worth over £40!
These wildflowers will come back year after year and create a riot of colour and interest in your garden. Sprinkle the packets of wildflower seeds amongst the plug plants to create the perfect meadow.
For more information on the Wildflower Collection please click here.
How to enter
To enter the competition simply post a comment on any of our blog posts. The competition closes at midnight (BST) on Sunday 21st April 2013.
Entry into this competition is free. By entering this competition you agree to the competition terms and conditions detailed below.
There is one prize of one wildflower collection plus 10 packets of wildflower seeds worth £40 each.
The competition closes at midnight (BST) on Sunday 21st April 2013 and the winning entry will be drawn on Monday 22nd April 2013. The winner will be notified by email by 5pm on Monday 22nd April. All entries received via comments on the blog between now and the closing date will be included for a chance to win. No cash alternative available. Thompson & Morgan UK accepts no responsibility/liability for any and all electronic, network, computer or other technical malfunctions or any human error that may occur on collecting, processing and transmission of data. In the event that comments entered for the draw become corrupted or are deemed to be unsuitable for publishing or spam, these comments will be excluded from competition. Entrants agree to be bound by these rules.