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Beautiful Butterflies.

Last night we attended a talk on butterflies given in the Ramada Hotel in Drumshanbo by Jesmond Harding from Co. Meath. Jesmond’s enthuasism for his topic is infectious. He spoke for about 2 hours to a crowd of 25 or so. I think he could have carried on longer given the opportunity. His book: Discovering Irish Butterflies & their Habitats is the result of 12 years work and is filled with info on all aspects of butterfly conservation.

Anyone with a garden can help the butterflies cause by planting shrubs and flowers which are butterfly attractants. Buddleia, Sedums, Mallow, Daisies , Primroses and Cowslips are just a few that would make any garden pretty as well as helping our fragile winged friends.

A hedgerow of native species such as Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Hazel, Guelder Rose, Buckthorn and Holly provides shelter to a garden as well as providing places for basking, feeding, mating and egg-laying. A strip of grass bordering a hedge, especially if it is south-facing is also a desirable habitat for butterflies such as Meadow Brown, Orange Tip and Brimstone.

Wild strip bordering our drive during Summer.

The strip pictured above was just left to nature and it had Orchids, Prunella, Clover, Ragworth, Buttercup, Poppies and Daisies. The grass was cut at the end of September then left for a couple of weeks for the seeds to dry out and fall to the ground. The grass was then removed so as not to fertilise the area. Most wild flowers thrive in poor, unfertilised soil.

Native Orchid.

We should’nt be too fastidious about tidiness in our gardens. Log piles in a shady part of the garden are attractive places for Peacock butterflies to hibernate and gaps in stonework allow access to Small Tortoiseshells who will hibernate there. Dense Ivy is used by autumn generation Holly Blue for breeding and Brimstones will take their Winter sleep there. Even over-ripe fruit fallen to the ground will be feasted on by Red Admirals. Now would’nt that be a beautiful sight to lift your heart.

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