Renovating the Butterfly Border
In 2009, Ann Wood of the FTBG created a butterfly border at Treborth to attract butterflies and other beneficial insects and to demonstrate that a range of garden plants are suitable for this purpose. The border is in the north east corner of the Garden, a sheltered sunny spot close to the wildlife pond. Over the past couple of years, some of the plants have become rather too successful resulting in the loss of some of those originally included in the design. A renovation was therefore planned and the opportunity taken to extend the border to rationalise the adjacent area to make mowing around it easier. The importance of using native plants to attract wildlife is often stressed, but many garden plants are also attractive to butterflies and other insects, including those that are important pollinators. Recently the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has published the results of a major scientific study it carried out which shows that garden plants are successful in attracting pollinators. The RHS advice is to:
- Plant a mix of flowering plants from different countries and regions;
- Place an emphasis on plants native to the UK and the northern hemisphere;
- The more flowers a garden can offer throughout the year – regardless of plant origin (native or non-native) the greater the number of bees, hoverflies and other pollinating insects it will attract and support.
Many labels on plants in garden centres or information in seed catalogues flag up those that are attractive to butterflies and bees or other pollinating insects. The RHS promotes a ‘RHS Perfect for Pollinators’ logo.
The renovated border is wider at the top end, with a crushed slate path running along the back to make it easier to maintain. There are already some shrubs attractive to butterflies such as Buddleja along the adjacent woodland edge and this planting will be reinforced with more varieties of suitable shrubs. The redesign includes a small area with a seat to allow visitors to enjoy the border and the butterflies.
A revised plant list has been drawn up, based on Ann’s original list, but with additions to extend the flowering season and take advantage of the increased space. When the planting is complete there should be plants in the border and surrounding area in flower from early Spring to late Autumn, plus a Mahonia to provide winter flowers for bumblebees or other insects which emerge from hibernation on warm days. Some of the plants, especially the annuals, are being grown from seed in the Garden while perennials and shrubs will be purchased.
Staff and Friends at the garden are very grateful to STAG (Students for Treborth Action Group) who were successful in bidding for funds from Bangor University Students Union and have allocated this funding to the work on the butterfly border. The student work parties are also providing active help with all the hard work involved in the renovation. Do come along and visit the border and to see how it develops and to enjoy the butterflies and other insects it attracts.