WE NEED to make next summer a ‘butterfly summer’ – and we need to start work right now.
As a reaction to the grim picture painted by this year’s Big Butterfly Count of dramatically falling numbers, experts at the National Botanic Garden of Wales are urging everyone to play their part to protect these important pollinators.
Dr Natasha de Vere, Head of Science and Education, said: “We must act now to make next summer a ‘butterfly summer’ and the good news is that there is lots we can all do in our own back yards to help.
“Buy the right shrubs and, if you are getting your seeds and bulbs now, make sure you focus on buying butterfly-friendly annuals and perennials.”
Natasha added: “It is, though, really all about the caterpillars.
“The adult butterfly stage of the lifecycle can often be short-lived – colourful, crucial, but very short. They spend the majority of their lives as caterpillars so providing them with plenty of ‘food plants’ is going to be crucial.”
She explained that the different species of butterfly require different ‘food plants’ for their larvae (caterpillars). It is important to recognise the beautiful butterflies that we all love to see in our gardens in summer are just one part of a very important cycle.
“One vital lesson we have learned working in our brand new tropical Butterfly House,” said Natasha, “is that we have to pay very close attention to all the stages if we are going to make it a success. It’s going really well with the exotic species with hundreds of butterflies on the wing at the same time.
“For our native species, we are continuing to plant butterfly-friendly plants in key areas of the Garden and trying to get used to gardening a little less tidily to encourage the different species, some which like long grass to lay their eggs and some like nettles, for instance.”
Another very important message is that we need to avoid using insecticides in our gardens, she added.
Top ten plants to ensure a butterfly summer:
- Buddleia (the butterfly bush)
- Verbena bonariensis
- Perennial Wallflower (Bowles Mauve)
- Marjoram (Oregano)
- Thistle, sorrel, dock and nettle
- Lady’s Smock
Top ten tips to make a butterfly-friendly garden:
- Grow lots of nectar-rich flowers between March and November.
- Choose different plants to attract a wider variety of species. Place the same types of plant together in blocks.
- Prolong flowering by deadheading flowers and watering well. Well-watered plants produce more nectar.
- Grow caterpillar food plants for butterflies and moths.
- Let an area of grass grow long.
- Allow a patch of ‘weeds’, such as dandelion and bird’s-foot-trefoil, to flourish.
- Leave bare patches of wall, fence or earth, or place large stones in sunny borders, so butterflies can bask.
- Create a shelter-belt of trees, plant a mixed, native hedge, which will protect butterflies and moths from the wind.
- Grow climbing plants up walls and fences, where butterflies and moths can shelter from the rain and frost.
- Make a log pile, where butterflies and moths can hibernate. Some moths breed in dead wood, too.
Christmas gift fair returns
NEXT Friday (Oct 20), the annual craft and gifts extravaganza will return to Aberystwyth Arts Centre to get the locals in the mood for Christmas.
The Winter Craft & Gift Fair is sure to get visitors feeling festive in the run up to Christmas with over 80 stalls selling a wonderful array of crafts and gifts, many produced by local makers from Ceredigion and mid Wales.
This year will feature many regular stalls, as well as some who will be selling at the fair for the first time, so prepare to discover the unusual and unexpected at this year’s fair with it’s new layout and products for 2017.
The fair will be open from 10am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday and 12 to 5.30pm on Sundays all the way up until December 23.
On Saturday, November 25, the Arts Centre’s Christmas Food Fair will take over the Great Hall for the day. There will be the very best of Welsh produce with cheese, meats, fish, wine, cider, pastries, puddings, jams and much, much more from many local producers. The Food Fair is the perfect place to stock up on a few gastronomic goodies in the run up to Christmas. There will also be live musical entertainment to get you in the Christmassy mood! The fair will be on 10am-4pm and entry is free!
‘It’s ok to say’
ON WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY, farmers across Wales are being reminded that ‘it’s ok to say’ and the Farmers’ Union of Wales is urging them not to hide problems from themselves, their families and friends and to talk about their personal feelings.
The FUW made a commitment at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show in July to continue raising awareness of mental health problems in rural communities and is therefore renewing the call for those who might be suffering from mental health problems to seek help.
“The focus of this year’s World Mental Health day is on mental health in the workplace and farms are just that. In our places of work we’ve faced some pretty low-points in the last few years. Bovine TB, price volatility and uncertainty about our future post-Brexit, this all puts a strain on our resolve and will have many feeling stressed and under immense pressure,” said Union President Glyn Roberts.
“But we must break the stigma attached to mental health, so if you’re feeling vulnerable, please open-up and speak to someone. That doesn’t just mean today, but always. Farmers and farming families need to continue talking openly about what they are experiencing and the FUW strongly encourages anyone who is worried about their own mental health or a loved-one, to seek help from the Farming Community Network, Tir Dewi, The DPJ Foundation, Mind Cymru or Call Helpline Wales,” added Glyn Roberts.
Scholarship scheme funds student’s Masters
A TALYBONT native is one of just 28 people in the UK to be awarded a scholarship granted by energy company ScottishPower.
Stella Foster, 32, gratefully received the grant from the Scottish Power Foundation for the 2017/18 academic year.
Having just completed an undergraduate degree in Chemistry at the University of York, Stella will begin her Masters in Environmental Sciences this week at the University of East Anglia. Environmental science degrees integrate biology, physical science and information sciences to examine environmental systems (air, water, etc.) and how they interact.
The sought-after scholarship covers full enrolment costs as well as a living allowance. On top of this, the scholars will receive unique opportunities including meeting leading industry professionals.
“Travelling around the world and living in China before I started my undergraduate studies made me aware of the astounding change of pace in urbanisation; the two-hour bus ride from where I lived to Shanghai, there wasn’t a moment where you couldn’t see a construction site,” Stella said.
“This fast and dramatic development creates issues with the environment, and I’m really excited to learn about the creative and fascinating solutions out there, and hopefully come up with some of my own,” she added.
Since it was launched in 2010, the ScottishPower Foundation scholarships programme has provided £1.5m in grants towards training the next generation in their chosen field.
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