Grow a secret garden for butterflies!

© Jon Hawkins

The Wildlife Trusts and RHS urge gardeners to help butterflies and moths for this year’s Wild About Gardens campaign.

Inspired by the new film – The Secret Garden – which celebrates wildlife gardening and the joy that the connection with nature brings, this year’s Wild About Gardens campaign, run jointly by The Wildlife Trusts and Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), is calling on gardeners to help the UK’s falling numbers of butterflies and moths.

Surrey gardeners can also enter the Surrey Wildlife Garden Awards 2020.

The new campaign draws inspiration from a dazzling new film adaptation of the Frances Hodgson Burnett classic, The Secret Garden, starring Colin Firth, Julie Walters and newcomer Dixie Egerickx as Mary Lennox. The film will be bringing the magic of wildlife, childhood and gardening to the big screen this Spring when it blooms in cinemas across the UK from Good Friday, 10th April 2020. 

In the story of The Secret Garden, the garden eases grief, heals rifts and brings the joy out in all who experience it. Make a special place for wildlife – your very own Secret Garden where you can replenish your soul, reconnect with nature and help wildlife to thrive. You’ve probably noticed how spotting butterflies or birds, or walking through woodlands or alongside rivers and streams can help to lift your mood. Make some time for nature today and enjoy the restorative benefits!

Butterflies and moths are important pollinators and, along with caterpillars, are vital food for birds like robins and blue tits as well as bats. However, their habitats have faced catastrophic declines and once-common species like the small tortoiseshell have dropped by up to 80% in the last 30 years in some areas. Of the 50 species of butterfly in Surrey, 44% are either extinct or in decline*.

An ideal butterfly garden has a wide variety of flowers throughout the year to support their life cycles – for butterflies and moths emerging from hibernation, egg laying females, caterpillars and then adults. Early flowering species include dandelions, aubretia and native bluebells which could be followed by buddleia and red valerian, wildflowers and long grass. Ivy flowers late into autumn. Even a small flowerbed or flowering window box could throw declining numbers a lifeline, especially in urban areas. 

The Wildlife Trusts’ gardening champion, horticulturist and TV presenter Frances Tophill says: 

“Our garden flowers and plants provide a rich source of rejuvenating nectar for these much-loved garden visitors as they emerge from hibernation to herald the start of spring. Go wild in your garden and leave the dandelions and daisies in the lawn to provide a meal, aim for year-round flowers and include a wildflower area for egg-laying females as well as gardeners’ favourites like lavender, nasturtium and verbena. The Wild About Gardens website is packed with information and easy actions we can all take to support butterflies and moths throughout their impressive life cycle.”

Pledge for butterflies

Every butterfly garden counts, we want to know about every new wild area, box or border that’s being grown for butterflies. Each garden contributes towards the network of green spaces that nature needs to survive. Please pledge a bit of garden for butterflies and put it on the map here.

Download or pick up a booklet

The Wildlife Trusts and RHS have published a beautiful – free – booklet with colourful advice and easy tips designed to make our outdoor spaces more attractive to butterflies, moths and their caterpillars. Available here  from 12th March. 

Find a full range of wildlife gardening advice and inspiration here

Enter the Surrey Wildlife Garden Awards

Entering the 2020 Surrey Wildlife Garden Awards is a perfect way to make a difference and connect with nature on your doorstep. It’s free to enter and there are categories for small, medium and large private gardens, school grounds, business grounds, allotments, community garden and new for this year - churchyards.

Open for entries from April 1st to July 31st

Enter the awards