A Garden Full of Butterflies

We have a very small garden, more like a back yard, so earlier this year I did a short survey to discover how good our garden was at attracting pollinators. The results informed me that our garden was really only as good as a window-box! I couldn’t believe it and so made a great effort to add pollinator friendly plants into the two existing borders and many more into pots. Foxglove, Scabious, Hebe, Hardy Geranium and Verbena to name a few.

Now here we are in Autumn and lots of pollinators have been visiting.


A windless day —

On top of every flower,

A butterfly.

Small Tortoiseshell on Verbena bonariensis

It worked! Also, because of the pandemic I thought it would be wise to plant some vegetables in pots and containers. Salad leaves and radish have been a success, they are so easy to grow, but I experimented with beans, turnips and carrots. Some successes, but the turnips have had all their leaves eaten by a huge army of caterpillars.

The butterflies we’ve seen are Small Tortoiseshell, Large White, Peacock, Red Admiral, Holly Blue, Small White and Speckled Wood. Seven different species is probably still a low number but it is an urban garden, but if I can find a few more spaces to plant some more pollinator friendly plants, then next year might be even better. More pots too! On one particular afternoon I counted at least 15 butterflies. It was such a joy to see them and a blessing to have them fluttering all around us whilst we sipped afternoon tea.

Of course, there are lots of other pollinators like bees and hoverflies visiting the garden but I don’t know many of their names.

Are you trying to encourage nature into your garden?


37 thoughts on “A Garden Full of Butterflies

  1. Wonderful effort, Ashley. If you really want to please butterflies, plant in a large pot (50 cm wide and at least 50 – 60 cm tall ) their very favourite plant – the purple buddleia. It will grow into tall, 2 m. ‘tree ‘, but in the late autumn, you can cut it to the ground, almost. It will grow back in spring.


  2. Great find! And good thinking with the garden. I need to do that next year, salad greens, and tomatoes. We have bottlebrush to attract hummingbirds and dragonflies. I want to plant other varieties they enjoy too.

  3. So many butterflies, that’s awesome, Ashley!
    Loving that!

    To answer your question – we have a small balcony and I take care to grow plants that are good for the pollinators and can be harvested by us, later. For example: lavender, comfrey, white clover, creeping charly, hollyhocks (we saved those after they’ve been torn out elsewhere) and wild flower mixes that contain cornflowers, borage and marygold. Thus, different kind of bees and bumblebees, hoverflies and occasionally also butterflies (as well as many others) are visiting regularly.

    1. Dear Stefanie, it’s lovely to hear from you. Yes, even on a balcony; it’s so important. Your balcony sounds wonderful, the pollinators must be having a party!

  4. Thank you for sharing tips, poem and beautiful picture and:
    Congratulations on garden and butterfly success.
    (I have only a lawn – and weeds, but I love to look at proper gardens big and small).

    1. It’s always good to hear from you, Marina. We also love to look at big gardens. In fact, watch this space as my next post will take you to one! Enjoy your evening.

  5. Love the hokku. Great that you have so many butterflies. We’ve had very few this year in spite of planting butterfly friendly patches around the garden!

    1. Clive, it has surprised me too that we had so many that day, but it was a windless day. This year we seem to have had a great deal of wind which I’m sure the butterflies don’t like and where you are, has also felt those strong winds this year.

  6. That’s brilliant Ashley. I too have made an effort to support butterflies and now have quite a nice stand of milkweed where before it was just nothing much. These small conscious efforts add up and do make a difference. Nice photo!

  7. How wonderful that you’ve created this little paradise for pollinators in general and butterflies in particular! Yes, I also plant as many pollinator friendly plants and flowers as well, they need all the help they can get.
    And I’m sure those caterpillars were very happy. 😉
    Also think that seven butterfly species are quite a lot, especially in an urban area. The most I ever see are 2 or 3!

    1. Hi Sarah, thank you form your positive comments. I record all the butterflies on a daily basis into a conservation charity so I hope I am doing something right. Of all the fauna on this planet, the more we can help insects, the better chance we have of protecting the environment.

  8. It sounds as though you’ve made a real difference for the pollinators Ashley. I just have a back yard with plants in pots, but few of them seem to have flowered this year – I think due to the extremes of hot, dry weather….my buddleia in a pot is only just flowering now when I thought it wasn’t going to at all!

    1. Andrea, we have a back yard too, with only two narrow borders, so pots are a must! Although we’ve had lots of rain, the pots just don’t get wet, so watering them at least once a week, rain or shine has worked for us! Thank you for dropping by, it’s always good to hear from you!

  9. Beautiful. I always get excited when I see pollinators in our garden, and I love that you are getting lots of visitors, too. Happy to know that your veg are growing well! May you have a nice harvest!

    1. Thanks for dropping by and for your comments. Yes, my harvest has gone well if a bit small! I suppose that’s because I’m growing things in pots, nevertheless, it’s been exciting lifting my first ever homegrown carrots! 😋

      1. So exciting. Nothing tastes better than food you grew yourself. And that is the fun bit of it, right? Not about how large the harvest is, though I suspect as you continue planting, the yield increases, too.

  10. Ashley, thank you for your wonderful post. I love butterflies and we have lots of them year round here in South Florida. I sit outside and can watch them for hours. I hope you will have plenty more visit your garden. Stay safe.

    1. Thank you for dropping by and for your comments. This morning was cold, cold enough for a covering of frost on the tops of the hedges and the fences. Even with some warm sunshine this afternoon there have been no butterflies! Enjoy your Sunday afternoon 🙏

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