A butterfly garden can be magical

Begonia elatior is a joy for the pot or basket enthusiast.

It is easy to grow and has attractive foliage and graceful racemes of flowers in many colours.

And it is not subject to attacks from a lot of the common diseases.

The original begonia elatior was the result of cross-breeding in England between a species and a hybrid back in 1906.

But the many colourful strains being developed from it were lost during World War II.

Today, after much new breeding, its varieties include single flowers ranging from brilliant reds, white, yellows and orange, semi-double blooms from pink to reds, and double flowers in many shades, including apricot.

One trouble with it can be mildew, but this can be controlled with regular spraying of fungicide.

Position is not so important.

It relishes morning sun and some afternoon shade, and will also thrive in a warm, sheltered spot in the garden and seems to delight in a patio or fernery.

Remove all spent flowers regularly and any leaves that get bruised or sun-scorched.

The many brilliant varieties of begonias remain unaffected by some of the more common diseases.

The many brilliant varieties of begonias remain unaffected by some of the more common diseases.

Discover oxalis

Like rhubarb, oxalis acetosella contains a good deal of oxalic acid, in fact this is where it gets its name from.

By the way, did you know that oxalic acid can aggravate gout and rheumatism, so if you tend to suffer from these, avoid eating rhubarb (oxalis too, if you are given to eating that).

Actually in olden times its leaves were widely eaten in salads because of their pleasantly acid taste, their sharpness taking the place of vinegar.

All varieties of oxalis belong to the solanum family, along with potatoes, tomatoes and deadly nightshade.

Strange bedfellows, but then you often find that in the plant world..

Don’t think of all oxalis as being a pest to be got rid of.

Some will not spread perniciously and will give you a long display of dainty flowers.

Butterflies

Butterflies add a colourful, decorative delight to our gardens in summer.

Summer is when we see them most, because they need warmth to be active.

They love flowers that have easily-accessible nectar, such as primroses, polyanthus and wallflowers.

You won’t find butterflies enjoying your roses, gladioli, dahlias, hydrangeas and irises.

Single flowers have more nectar than doubles.

The single petunia, for instance, is more attractive to butterflies than the more showy, frilly variety.

Michaelmas daisies, especially pink ones, are good, and so are the large white shasta daisies.

Phlox of all kinds attract butterflies, and so do sweet williams, catmint, thrift, verbena, ageratum and the old-fashioned honesty.

Shrubs that butterflies like include hawthorn, escalonia, hebe, lavender, rosemary, single-flowered  viburnum and purple lilac (more so than the white).

Perhaps the favourite plant of all for many species of butterfly is the buddleia, and evergreen, fast-growing shrub.

Sneaky snails

Now is the time when newly-planted seedlings can be devastated by snails and slugs.

These actually belong to the mollusc family, and the 600 native Australian species, are mostly harmless.

It is the introduced species that do the damage, and the most common of these is the brown garden snail, helix aspersa.

It is said that a mulch of oak leaves will repel snails and slugs and they won’t cross a barrier of DRY sawdust. A dish of salt will kill them.

So will putting them in salt water.

They are attracted to stale beer and will drown in it.

Take care in putting out chemical snail baits, making sure that pets and infants can’t get at them.

BUTTERFLY DREAMING: There are a range of beautiful plants and shrubs which will help attract butterflies to your garden throughout summer.

BUTTERFLY DREAMING: There are a range of beautiful plants and shrubs which will help attract butterflies to your garden throughout summer.

Not all types of oxalis will create issues in your garden. Some are an attractive addition.

Not all types of oxalis will create issues in your garden. Some are an attractive addition.

While Australia has 600 native snail species, the introduced brown garden snail does much of the damage.

While Australia has 600 native snail species, the introduced brown garden snail does much of the damage.

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