Environment Garden

Enjoying moths and butterflies in your garden environment

Enjoying moths and butterflies in your garden


Anyone with a garden, no matter what its size, can help our butterflies and moths. In doing so, we also help ourselves. These species are among our most beautiful insects in your environment. All butterflies and many moths fly by day and visit gardens in search of flower nectar, and also warmth and shelter. Some species may find suitable food plants in gardens where they can lay their eggs. Some of these plants may be wild, while others, such as honesty, act as alternative non-native host-plants. Very few species cause damage to flowers or vegetables. On the other hand, butterflies and moths are important pollinators and good indicators of a healthy environment.


Whats the difference between a moth and butterfly?


Butterflies all fly by day (and a few also at night, when they will fly towards light) and have distinctive clubbed antennae. Most, but not all moths fly by night and have either wiry or feathered antennae. Most butterflies rest with their wings upright, perpendicular to their back (the only exceptions are some of the rather moth-like skippers). Only a few moths do this. The distinguishing feature shared by all butterflies and moths is their coloured wings.


Why moths and butterflies visit gardens


Most butterflies and moths feed on nectar, which they suck from flowers using their long proboscis like a straw.The sugar-rich drink provides them with the instant energy needed for flight. Butterflies seem to be particularly attracted to blue or pink flowers. Many moths like pale flowers that reflect the light and are strongly scented at dusk. Most gardens will have some food plants for moths and butterflies, whether they are ‘weeds’ such as dandelions, or trees like birch and willow – not to mention cabbages and currant bushes. The more food plants there are, the more species a garden will potentially support. Another great advantage of gardens is that they are sheltered. Often, too, they are sunny and offer a variety of small scale habitats which butterflies and moths can use.


Which plants are the most beneficial to the environment


In general, the flowers that butterflies and moths like are the traditional cottage kinds that most closely resemble their wild counterparts. Buddleja or ‘the butterfly bush’ is famous for attracting butterflies, especially when in a warm spot by a brick wall.Other butterfly favourites include iceplant, lavender, wallflowers, verbena, and, as an end-of-the-season treat, Michaelmas daisy. Moths are lured by a good scent. Evening-scented flowers like privet, sweet rocket, night-flowering stock and evening primrose attract many species including hawk-moths.


Unwanted visitors


Very few butterflies and moths are a real nuisance in today’s gardens. The main ones are the two ‘cabbage white’ butterflies – large white and small white – and the less well known cabbage moth, whose caterpillar bores into the heart of the vegetable. Their numbers can be kept down by interplanting nasturtiums or marigolds among the cabbages. Nasturtium acts as a decoy, marigold as a repellant.


Planting and sustaining a pond

Planting a pond


There’s any number of reasons for having a pond on an allotment:

It’s good for wildlife, and that means pollinating insects will be taking up residence on your plot – good for producing lots of crops

It helps create a microclimate – while irrigating plants is important for growth, it’s not the whole story; many plants need water in the form of mist or vapour and respond to various climatic cues such as dew falling and rising, which allow the plant to know whether it should be preparing for ‘rest’ or readying itself for photosynthesis. Having open water also reduces the amount of water you need to use around plant roots from a hose or watering can as plants can draw water from the atmosphere as well as the ground.

A well set up and mature pond (say three to five years old) should be a self sustaining eco-system: the water should provide enough minuscule aquatic life to keep fish healthy. Of course if your pond is younger than that, or smaller than say two metres across and four feet deep, you will need to keep feeding fish between late April and October because the water probably won’t be rich enough to sustain fish life. Remember though, that on an allotment, wildlife in the form of snails and insects, water beetles, pond skaters and who knows what, will all turn up as they migrate, get blown onto your plot, or arrive in the treads of wheelbarrows or on the soles of other people’s shoes as they pass by. You need to keep it filled with rainwater, because the chlorine in tapwater is very bad for fish.

So that’s me, pondering Maurice’s pond, which has to go into the ground in the next few weeks, and wondering how long it will take to fill with rainwater.

Energy Garden

A rockery in the garden can become home to many plants and small animals

A rockery in the garden can become home to many plants and small animals

There is nothing that is more exhilarating than a glowing well designed elegant rockery which mimics nature and flows with energy. A rockery is generally easy to design and maintain. A rockery looks splendid throughout the year, having numerous colourful flowers and leaves as well as mouth-watering tasty fruit.


Natural looking garden design

There are numerous designs that one can make. Do not allow paths to become overgrown and beds should not be left to be chocked by excessive weeds. Consider the following points when planning a natural garden.


Note and blend existing natural conditions

The soil, water supply, light, climate and the natural environment should all be incorporated in the rocker, failing to do this will not only result in a short life span for your rockery but will also require you to work extra hard to maintain it


Note the consistency and structure of the soil

The garden may have sandy, loamy or clay-rich soil, nutrient-poor or nutrient-rich soil.


The water supply in the garden should be consistent .

Sand soils are very permeable and thus are a poor water storage medium. Clay soils are less permeable and are able to hold a lot of water. The water supply is also directly influenced by precipitation.


The amount of sunlight available to the garden is also very important. Some garden plants require plenty of sunlight, while others require shade to flourish

The macro-climate and mini-climate play an important role in influencing growing conditions in the garden.

Micro-climate refers to the particular climate of a portion of the garden. It is influenced by the presence of a hedge which provides windbreaks, or large trees which cause shade and consume a lot of water.


When you have noted all the above natural conditions you will be able to harmonise them and select plants that will be able to flourish in these conditions. When designing a rockery it is good practice to use rocks and stones that match the micro-climate as well as soil in the garden.

Lime-stones go perfect with chalky soils while lime-poor soils go well with granite, basalt or sandstone. You can use unwanted garden soils to give you rockery with natural finishing touch.

Copying Natural Environments

A rockery biotype is very easy to create if you have the right plants and materials. Over the years the plants and rocks create a geological feature that is home to many small creatures. This rockery will be self sustaining and will need less care over time.


Protecting the Natural Environment

Avoid using that ore found growing in the wild as the majority of them are protected by law. The wild plants would not be able to thrive in domestic conditions as they prefer their natural wild habitant. You can obtain rockery plants from the local nursery.


Where do rockery plants come from?

The majority of rockery plants originate from high mountain regions such as the European Alps, the Carpathian Mountains and Pyrenees and the Scandinavia mountains. Some of the rockery plants come from hot steppe landscapes where there is intense energy and light from the sun, high moisture and temperature fluctuations and a thin layer of humus. These plants thrive in these areas also because of the mobile air and water.