Saturday, 31 August 2013


It's all very well having all these plants for pollinators but they also need places to live and breed. The top of my plot behind the trees is where I chuck all my rammel - prunings, bits of wood, piles of bricks, slabs, bits of junk that might come in handy. It might look like a tip - actually it is a tip - but to the bees it's home sweet home. No need for silly "bee hotels" and the like if you've got a tip.

For the caterpillars of our colourful garden butterflies like peacocks, small tortoiseshells and red admirals only one plant really matters - the stinging nettle. I've got several patches around the edges of my plot (especially in the tip) and it's always fascinating to watch the caterpillars munching their way through them.

The grassland species like meadow browns, gatekeepers and ringlets depend on - no surprise - grass. The grass needs to left long until the end of the season; in my orchard I leave it until the fruit is ready to be picked. I strimmed it down under my plum tree a couple of weeks ago and under the apple trees today. I'll leave the rest of it until the end of autumn as there's quite a few wild flowers in there too - flowering at the moment is ragwort, tufted vetch, field bindweed and knapweed. And since I've been leaving the grass long I've noted two new species here - the large skipper and small copper.

So there you go - habitat for bees and butterflies: a tip, nettles and long grass. Hardly surprising that urban allotments are so rich in wildlife.

Cinnabar moth caterpillar on ragwort.

Small tortoiseshell caterpillars on stinging nettle.

Small copper.

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