Discovering a hidden haven in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Australia

Posts tagged ‘butterfly food plants’

The Butterfly and Bee garden starting to buzz!

A slightly ragged Common Brown (Heteronympha merope merope) visiting the garden today.

The space down the side of the house is gradually starting transformation into the butterfly and bee garden. There’s not too much to see plant wise yet, as I have to discipline myself to focus on cleaning up not only this area, but the rest of the garden too.

However, once I’ve put in a few hours wrangling Couch grass and Ivy I let myself off the hook to spend a little time to work on setting up the butterfly and bee garden.

The butterfly and bee 'garden to be'

Here’s my progress report, please feel free to point out mistakes with Botanical names, I’m just starting to get the hang of these and realise that I’m probably making many mistakes!

Nectar Plantings

Buddleia

The fact we already have a well established mauve Buddleia (in foreground of photo above) is what started attracting Butterflies to our garden in the first place. The bees love it too.

Lavandula Multifida – ‘Spanish Eyes’ or ‘Canary Island’ Lavender.

Lavender planted next to a shallow water dish and some resting rocks for butterflies

I found this beautiful little soft ferny Lavender which has very dainty little tube shaped flowers and couldn’t resist it. I’m thinking the butterflies and bees will love it too.

Monarda didyma – Bergamot

Said to be a favourite herb for bees that I’m hoping will flower soon. I’ll post a picture when it does.

Larval Plantings

I’ve been following up my research on the food plant preferences of the caterpillar of Vanessa kershawi – The Australian Painted Lady by planting:

Bracteantha Bracteata – Golden Everlasting Daisy

Golden Everlasting

For anyone unfamiliar with an everlasting daisy it is a low growing plant that loves the sun. The apparent petals are actually bracts and you can find a lot more information about them here. I hope to grow a few more colourful  varieties from seed next spring.

Chrysocephalum apiculatum – Yellow Buttons.

Sad little Yellow Buttons

A Native plant commonly grown as a low maintenance and drought tolerant ground-cover. It’s meant to be as common as muck but I had a bit of trouble finding it and bought quite a sad looking little seedling just because I was so happy to have finally found it! It is meant to have a mass of small cheerful yellow flowers. We’ll see if it cheers up!

A Simple Plan…

Scentimental Rose in bud (close up!)

I admit it;  I’ve been looking at other gardening blogs and have been caught up in dreams of a beautiful garden with ‘just so’ garden beds and spectacular plantings.  The green eyes have come out! Is it blog envy? I don’t know, but I do know that I take photos of my flowers close up so no one can see the horror that surrounds them!

Today I realised I need a plan. A very simple plan. My garden is never going to be a show piece, but it could be my haven.

The reality is that if I look at my garden as a whole I quickly become demoralised. Think of a garden thug that could grow in the area my garden is in and I’ve got it in spades. Ivy, I’ve got it. Blackberry, the very bane of my existence. Running bamboo, check. Couch grass growing in plentiful supply, yup (but the good news is the Common Brown butterfly is said to love it!)

So, I am now thinking about it in manageable chunks. The Butterfly Garden is my first ‘chunk’ and on the hit list, apart from an awful lot of weeding, is the Ivy.

The before shot. Is the fence holding the ivy up or is the ivy holding the fence up?

Part way through, starting to see the extent of the damage.

Just in case anyone else was as silly as me to doubt the damage done by ivy

90% complete, fence still holding on, just.

After a long days hacking at the ivy and wrangling the couch grass I did allow myself the pleasure of the putting in the first planting toward the butterfly garden. My butterfly book tells me that apart from a whole range of nettles (please no, no more weeds!) the Australian Admiral butterfly is fond of ‘Baby Tears (Soleirolia soleirolii) as a food plant, so in it went in a shady spot today.

'Baby tears' in a shady, but possibly too dry position under a Buddliea

Last of all is a photo of a pest I’d like to identify. I’m sure it’s demonstrating my ignorance,  but I have no idea what it is. There are hundereds of these in my garden and we call them ‘flick moths’. Nothing comes up in a search for that nick name and my searches for moths have not revealed anything yet.

A journey of discovery

Australian Painted Lady - Vanessa kershawi - on a Buddleia

Research for the Butterfly Garden is already turning into a very exciting journey of discovery. ‘Decoding’ botanical plant names has resulted in more than one surprise.

As I’m not familiar with botanical plant names it is quite likely that I am getting a few things wrong, particularly when it come to plants that seem to have been reclassified more than once! I’m happy to be corrected if anyone notices a mistake.

The focus of my research so far has been larval food plants for the three most common butterfly visitors to our garden; The Australian Painted Lady – Vanessa kershawi, The Australian Admiral – Vanessa  itea and The Common Brown – Heteronympha merope

The larval food plant preferences of the Painted Lady are the kindest for the garden so far, so I’ll focus on those today.  The Painted Lady likes Chrysocephalum (Everlasting Daisy), Ammobium (Yass Daisy) and Chrysocephalum apiculatum (Yellow Buttons).  It is also fond of Gnaphaliums, but these are going to take a bit more research.

Larval food plants sourced from Braby, M.F – The Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia.

I don’t currently have any everlasting daisies in my garden but will happily try growing them from seeds next spring.  ‘Yellow Buttons’ is said to thrive on neglect, so that at least will fit right in!

Meadow Argus

Today I was also excited to find another Butterfly visiting the garden, the Meadow Argus, so there’s another one to add to the research list!

Around the garden…

Quite late in the season I’ve sown some cherry tomatoes. The seedlings are looking quite happy after transplanting into bigger pots, so hopefully with some feeding I can get them going before it’s too late!

Cherry Tomato seedlings

The photo below is for Gururajr, it is one of the Japanese Maples growing in our garden. I’m not sure which variety it is,  as it was an unlabelled seedling we planted about eleven or twelve years ago.  We fondly refer to this tree as ‘Mother Maple’ as she self-sows very readily!

'Mother Maple'

Last of all is the inevitable rose photo, another David Austin Rose in need of a move to a slightly sunnier spot in the garden. This time it is William Shakespeare Rose.