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Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Our Ladybird and Butterfly Gardens

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Hello All,


You may remember me telling you how the kids like to use up our cereal boxes for craft? Well, Rebecca made good use of the card that she had left over from making her Cereal Box Picture Frame.

We had planned to make a special garden basket each to encourage more ladybirds and butterflies to come to our garden, so she wanted to make both a "Ladybird Plant Pot Marker" and a "Butterfly Plant Pot Marker".

It was a sunny day so she could paint outside (less mess to clean up inside!).

This is her painted butterfly.


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And her Ladybird (or Ladybug).


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I laminated them for her and she used a little bit of tape to stick them to a bamboo skewer. You can paint these or wrap ribbon round them, but we left ours plain.


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The two markers ready to go in our garden baskets.


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For each basket, the kids "researched" (OK they googled) what plants ladybirds and butterflies were most attracted to. We already get lots of butterflies and ladybirds in our garden (I think this is because wildlife prefer messy gardens! I can do something right!); but they wanted to make a specific area for these special creatures.


They found out that:

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Ladybirds:
  •  feed on plants or mildew but most ladybirds eat aphids (greenfly) or scale insects.
  • Prefer dandelions, fennel, dill, cilantro, geraniums, nettles, thistles, anjelica and clematis.
You can find out more facts about ladybirds here.

Plants to encourage Butterflies:

Buddleia
Ice Plant (Sedum spectabile)
Bluebells
Candytuft
Ivy
Cuckooflower
Chives
Lavender
Dandelion 
Chrysthanemum
Lilac
Garlic Mustard
Common bird's-foot trefoil
Marjoram (Origanum)
Honesty
Cornflower
Michaelmas Daisy
Pansy
Escallonia
Mint
Primrose
Forget-me-not
Phlox
Sweet Rocket
French Marigold
Purple Loosestrife
Sweet William
Globe Thistle
Red Valerian
Wallflower
Hebe
Scabious
Willow
Honeysuckle
Thistles
Violas
Hyssop
Thyme


You can find out more information about Butterflies here.

So, we put soil in each basket and planted a selection of ladybird/butterfly attracting plants.  You can take cuttings of plants you (or friends or family if you have persmission!) already own or look out for people selling plants very reasonably at carboot sales.  If you're willing to pay more, you can pick them up in the supermarket or at your local DIY Store or Garden Nursery.

We also put a wooden ladybird house in our ladybird garden.  You could drill some holes into a log and insert that into your garden to create dark, hiding spaces for your ladybirds to shelter.  The plants and aphids will provide food, rain will provide water. 


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Before we put some ladybirds into their special garden, we had a look at them.


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We said goodbye to our ladybirds, as I explained to the kids that even though we'd created a suitable environment for them to live in, we couldn't make them live there. I thought they might fly away from us.


So, we put them in the Ladybird Garden Basket.

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They seem very happy so far.  They have only used their wings to help turn over when they get stuck on their backs and to fly from our hands into their garden.  They crawled into the warm, inner chamber of their tower for shelter tonight.  I hope we'll find ladybirds everytime we look in this basket all summer long!

Our Caterpillars aren't ready to be released into the butterfly garden yet, and I know they are too free spirited to stay in one place, but when we released them last year, every time we spotted a Painted Lady we wondered if it was one of ours. 

I forgot to take a photo of them when they first arrived from Insect Lore.
They were tiny and that was only three days ago.  Now they are already this big.


 

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Izzy had a look too.  We made sure she didn't pick them up and eat them!

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She also enjoyed playing with the leaves and flowers- supervised of course!
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This is her favourite book at the moment, it used to be Danny's.  She loves the butterflies, caterpillars and ladybirds.


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By coincidence, Rebecca's book from the library also featured a ladybird.  She was delighted when "Bridget Fidget" had a pet ladybird like us!
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We'll let you know how the caterpillars get on, I wonder what they'll turn into...no spoilers now!  ;-)

love

Claire
xxx
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