An update from Sara Messenger of the Bradley Stoke in Bloom group.
Although some of the group have been away, others have been putting in some overtime. As well as extra weeding and watering, two of us spent a very hot afternoon putting in 100 tubers in the Jubilee Green Garden and the Manor Farm Corner.
This month we have put in our first butterfly garden where the Common East joins Cornfield Close. As well as installing butterfly boxes and water/food dishes, we have planted lavender and buddleia. Paper butterflies made by Rainbow Guides added instant colour to the garden. The caterpillars haven’t been forgotten and soon they can be feasting on some of their favourite plants: cabbage, corn chamomile, prairie broom, trefoil birds foot, wild mignonette, sheep sorrel, nasturtium, garlic mustard and scarlet pimpernel! Nettles are also a favourite food plant for many caterpillars but we thought there were already enough of those around.
We were cheered along by Byron, aged 3, who seemed very taken with our butterfly boxes, by his mum who brought us all hot chocolate, and by a number of cats who kept us company while we worked, including ‘Elvis’ who kindly took care of our lunch for us!
Big Butterfly Count
Our garden won’t quite be ready in time for this year’s Big Butterfly Count as this runs from 17th July – 19th August, but this doesn’t mean you can’t take part. Launched in 2010, it is a nationwide survey aimed at helping to assess the health of our environment and has rapidly become the world’s biggest survey of butterflies.
Over 44,000 people took part in the survey in 2014, counting almost 560,000 individual butterflies and day-flying moths across the UK.
Anyone can take part, (if you’re not too sure about identification you can download a free chart) all you need to do is simply count butterflies for 15 minutes during bright (preferably sunny) weather. For more information, visit www.bigbutterflycount.org
Keeping the kids busy
Butterflies can also be helped by leaving an area of long grass in your garden. Grass is a larval food for many of the brown family and some whites, but they do get mown along with the grass, so they need a small patch of grass to be left to grow. You could add some wildflowers and create your own mini-meadow. Bees and butterflies also need water but often drown in deep dishes, so get the kids to make their own by filling a shallow dish with water then adding some marbles. Exhausted bees can be saved by giving them heavily sugared water to drink and watching the ants share this treat is quite fascinating.
Our town centre ‘kitchen garden’ planter continues to grow well and we couldn’t resist testing the strawberries and sugar snap peas. These are so tasty and easy to grow they are ideal plants to get little ones to ‘grow their own’.
How to contact Bradley Stoke in Bloom:
Photos: Bradley Stoke in Bloom volunteers in the butterfly garden; Byron admires a butterfly box.
This article originally appeared in the August 2015 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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