I was invited by my good frien,d Mari I’ Anson (the local Finchley Artist), for a coffee morning recently, and I was pleased to see a small tortoiseshell butterfly in her garden which reminded me of the plight of the London butterflies. They have the same problem as the honey bees which is the reduced number of wild plants, especially nettles and thistles on which they lay their eggs and on which the larva feed.
If you can find a spot in your garden where you could plant some of each you will be rewarded with various species visiting them during the summer months. There are loads of nettles now down in Dollis Brook, and now is a good time to collect their seed heads, just make sure that you plant them in a plastic bucket to stop the roots from spreading
We have around a dozen species of butterflies in the area, and I am told that the Small Blue and the Red Admiral have been seen in this area recently. The National Butterfly count will be held in July, and it will be interesting to see the result and the comparison from last year.
Long Lane Pastures (down opposite the Fire Station) had a rare White Letter Hairstreak last year which may come back again to visit the Princeton Elm which was planted to encourage a colony to settle there.
Do make a note in your diary to visit the Butterfly Border there which has a good variety of flowering plants to attract them.
If you are replanting any shrubs do include a Purple Buddleia (The Butterfly Bush) but keep it well pruned to stop it going wild! Look out for a dwarf variety called “ Buzz “
Philadelphus (Mock Orange) var; “Virginal” is a good choice for a scented shrub.
Honeysuckle, Lavender, Summer Jasmine, Verbascum, Rosemary, Lavender, Nicotina, Night Scented Stock, Angels Trumpets, and Evening primrose, will give off their scent at night.
If you have an interest in butterflies, visit the Butterfly House in Golders Hill Park between 2:00pm and 4:00pm.
Footnote for the Honey Bees; As you can see, it is extremely important that you keep a lookout for the Japanese Hornet these pack a huge sting for humans as well.