Gardening for Butterflies

Butterflies not only brighten our gardens with movement and colour but also, along with moths, provide vital food supplies for other species especially birds and bats. We can help by providing nectar for adults and in some cases food plants for the larvae. To see notes from a Froyle garden click on the link ‘On the wild side, A flutter-by summer’.

NECTAR PLANTS (a selection of garden and wild flowers)- Primrose, Chionodoxa, Pussy Willow, Bluebell, Aubrietia, Hyacinth, Cuckoo Flower, Forget-me-not, Perennial Wallflower – Bowles Mauve, Honesty, Sweet Rocket – Hesperis matronalis,  Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Lavender,  Marjoram, Bramble, Mint, Hyssop, Perennial Pea – Lathyrus latifolius, Hebe, Buddleia, Verbena bonariensis, Field Scabious , Hemp Agrimony, Teasel, Phlox, Ice plant- Sedum spectabile, Cone Flower, Inula hookeri, Michaelmas Daisy.  Annuals include Candytuft, Tithonia, and Single dahlias.   Flowering Ivy is an important late season nectar source for many insects including the Red Admiral.  It’s a larval food plant of the Holly Blue butterfly and the Brimstone will hibernate in it.  Birds find shelter, build nests amongst it and eat the berries in winter. The juice from rotting windfall fruit is often a magnet for Comma and Red Admiral.

Aim to provide a continuous source of nectar from early spring to late autumn. Butterflies seek out warmth so try and position your nectar plants in sunny areas sheltered from the wind. Many of the plants will also attract other invertebrates including Moths, Honey Bees, Bumble Bees, Solitary Bees and Hoverflies.

Red Admiral on Tithonia

LARVAL FOOD PLANTS – The adult female must search for the right food plants to lay her eggs. The Peacock seeks out Nettle, the only plant her caterpillars (larva) will eat. Small Tortoiseshell, Comma and Red Admiral are the other nettle feeders. Cabbage Whites, can be tempted away from our brassicas by planting Nasturtiums. The Holly Blue lays on Holly in the spring and Ivy in the autumn and the Orange tip on Sweet Rocket, Honesty, Ladies Smock and Garlic Mustard –Brimstone larvae will only eat Buckthorn or Alder Buckthorn. Again these plants need to be in sunny sheltered areas and of course chemicals should be avoided.

SPECIES TO LOOK OUT FOR IN OUR GARDENS – Brimstone, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma and Red Admiral, are the first species on the wing in spring having hibernated as adults.  By May Holly Blue, Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Small Copper, Speckled Wood, Large and Small White (collectively known as Cabbage Whites) will be flying and perhaps the migrant Painted Lady. Others to watch for during the year are Common Blue, Meadow Brown, Large and Small Skipper, Gatekeeper and Ringlet. These are the most likely species to turn up in our Froyle gardens but others could make an appearance.  A list of the 35 species recorded in the Parish can be seen here.

BRITISH BUTTERFLIES – There are 59 species of butterfly found in Britain, 46 in Hampshire, most require exacting habitat conditions to exist which includes an abundance of the larval food plant. These food plants differ from species to species and comprise specific native flowers, grasses trees and shrubs. Nectar is also required for the adults giving them vital energy to fly and breed.  Some of the richest habitats are traditionally managed woodlands, chalk downlands, meadows and heathlands but vast areas have been lost in the past 60 years with agricultural intensification and habitat destruction taking their toll. Consequently invertebrates dependant on these plant communities are seeing worrying declines which include three quarters of UK butterfly species. Some butterflies are less particular in their requirements – hedgerows, copses, flowery field margins, track and roadside verges all play an important role in their survival but wild flowers have declined here too. For more information see Butterfly Conservation.

Sue Clark


Hedgerows talk 16th Mar 2017

A talk on ‘Wildlife and Hedgerows’ by Jon Stokes, Thursday 16th March, 7.30pm Froyle Village Hall (doors open 7pm).

It’s surprising that the hedgerow network represents Britain’s largest nature reserve. Jon Stokes from the Tree Council will show us the importance of hedgerows and the how to improve them to boost their wildlife potential. Hedgerows adjacent to roads, green lanes, tracks and wooded ground tend to be particularly species-rich and can act as wildlife corridors.

All welcome, members £2, non members £3, children free, Refreshments.


Froyle Wildlife to become a Charity Feb 2017

Our application has been approved by the Charities Commission to become a ‘Charitable Incorporated Organisation’. This registered charity number 1171997 has the name ‘Froyle Wildlife’ and is proposed to replace the existing ‘Froyle Nature Conservation Group’.

On Thursday 16th March 2017 at Froyle Village Hall 7.30pm, there will be a brief Extraordinary General Meeting for members of ‘Froyle Nature Conservation Group’ to hear about the proposals and vote on the changes. Membership can then be transferred to the new charity, see notice for the EGM.

The committee of ‘Froyle Nature Conservation Group’ (FNCG) recommends the proposal to convert to ‘Froyle Wildlife’ (FW) a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO).

Benefits of being a CIO include:

• It is a company with a limitation of liability

• It is not taxable (being a charitable organisation)

• We can get gift aid back (so increasing our income)

• Compliance requirements are light

• It is free to set up

The existing committee are trustees of the new charity FW, see the list of trustees. The constitution of FW is based on a standard template available from the Charities Commission, see the constitution (20 pages). The aims of FNCG are maintained in the constitution of FW but written in a style to comply with the Charities Commission purposes, see the list of purposes and activities. Transfer of assets from ‘Froyle Nature Conservation Group’ to ‘Froyle Wildlife’, see the transfer agreement.

So come along on Thursday 16th March 2017 at Froyle Village Hall 7.30pm, for the brief Extraordinary General Meeting to hear about the changes and for members to vote on the resolutions.

Updated on 17th March: At the EGM, members approved becoming a charity by voting unanimously in favour of the resolutions.


Butterflies of Hampshire talk 23rd Feb 2017

This month we are delighted to welcome Dr Andy Barker of the charity ‘Butterfly Conservation’ as our first speaker of 2017. A talk on the Butterflies of Hampshire, Thursday 23rd Feb 2017 at 7.30pm, Froyle Village Hall (door open at 7pm).

There are 45 species of butterfly which can be seen in Hampshire and Andy will especially highlight those found in our local area (Froyle, East and North East Hampshire) and give us tips on identification.  We’ll also hear of important habitats such as woodland, chalk downland and heathland which sustain many of the less common species.  So forget the winter for a while, come along and be inspired to seek out some of these fascinating and sometimes elusive insects.

All welcome, members £2, non-members £3, children free, Refreshments


Wildlife pond aerial views January 2017

In January 2017, aerial photographs recorded the wildlife pond and surrounding ground area, thanks to Izon Aerial Imaging. This should help us to monitor how the vegetation changes in the coming years.

A virtual 3D model of the pond area can be visualised at this link.

Areas were sown with seed mixtures for wet or chalky soils depending on ground conditions that were disturbed by digging the pond. A list of the species sown can be downloaded as a .pdf.  The tussocky grasses sown in April 2016 and the wildflower meadow seed sown in September 2016 germinated well, although weed seedlings such as thistles, nettles and docks also came up.

The pond surface was still frozen when this photo was taken at normal ground level.

Thanks to the volunteers who helped to cultivate/weed the ground area and build the hibernaculum. This project was funded by developer contributions through  East Hampshire District Council and completed with the kind permission of Froyle Park Ltd.



AGM and talk ‘Return of the Red Kite’ 20th October 2016

All are invited to our short AGM at 7pm followed by a talk ‘Return of the Red Kite’ on Thursday 20th October 2016 in the village hall.  There will also be a display showing some of the local wildlife seen and an update of this year’s events in Froyle.  Non-members are welcome and drinks and nibbles will be available during the evening.

Red KiteOur excellent speaker Keith Betton has been studying Red Kites for seven years and is the Hampshire county bird recorder. Red Kites were exterminated in Hampshire in 1864 and have now returned only with help. In the 1990s chicks were brought over from Spain and released in the Chilterns. These were the ancestors of the birds we see in Froyle today. Keith will tell the story of their return and give us an insight into their lives.

For information about the reintroduction of the Red Kite click on the link and download the .pdf leaflet.


Organic farming, Walk at Mill Farm 8th Sept 2016

The Mill Farm walk and talk was on 8th September 2016 with thanks to Nick Shaylor for an inspirational evening.

Mill Farm cattleWe enjoyed a lovely late summers evening for our walk and talk at Mill Farm Organic, bordering Froyle and Isington. Owned by the Mayhew family, the farm extends to around 600 acres and has been managed organically for over 16 years, certified by the Soil Association. The main enterprises found on the farm are a herd of South Devon and Aberdeen Angus beef cows, a flock of Black Welsh Mountain and Easycare sheep and a herd of traditional breed pigs. These all produce meat which is sold at the farm shop  and at local Farmers Markets.

Mill Farm walk 2The farm covers a diverse range of habitats ranging from traditional water meadows bordering the River Wey to larger rotationally cropped fields and several pockets of ancient woodland. Managed with a close eye on conservation, many initiatives have been adopted to try and preserve and create important habitats for wildlife. Over the last sixteen years over 5 km of new hedgerows have been planted and many new native trees. Six metre grass field margins surround fields that are rotationally cropped. These are left completely undisturbed and provide a vital buffer between the rich hedgerow habitat and the more intensively managed farmland.

Mill Farm walk 1The farm has been gradually increasing the diversity of its pastures for several years. A species rich mixture of up to fifteen different varieties of grasses, legumes and herbs are now commonly sown. These mixed swards are much more resilient to drought conditions (due to the inclusion of many deep rooting species such as chicory and red clover). They also are great fertility builders, adding organic matter to the soil and helping to feed the soil food web – which is crucial as no chemical fertilisers or pesticides are allowed under the organic standards. When in flower these leys are a magnificent colourful sight and are rich in wildlife especially pollinators and butterflies. Newman Turner, who was a great advocate of herbal leys described them as his “fertiliser merchant, food manufacturer and vet all in one”.

The farm also benefits from a range of traditional farm buildings which have been left largely undeveloped. Several pairs of barn owls have been nesting in these this year.

Mill Farm walk 3A key focus of the farm is to offer as much diversity as possible. This is currently achieved in many ways, including the several different livestock enterprises present, the range of crops that are grown (and the season in which they are established), species rich grazing leys, hedgerows that are only cut every three years and pockets of land that are left completely undisturbed. The aim of the farm has and continues to be to develop and maintain a sustainable farming system, ensuring that plenty of room is left for nature.

To find out more about Mill Farm, please visit and for more information about organic farming visit the Soil Association.



Wildlife pond Froyle, Sept 2016

Wildlife pond Aug16The new pond near Gid Lane was constructed in April 2016, by kind permission of Froyle Park Ltd. and funded by developer contributions through East Hampshire District Council. Although the area has looked rather bare this summer, advice from wildlife pond experts is to let the pond colonise naturally over time. So please do not introduce any fish or pond plants because this could bring in non-native species that are potentially invasive. The disturbed ground was sown in September with wildflower meadow mixtures for wet or chalky soils depending on the conditions. An area of tussocky grasses and wildflowers sown in April has grown well although we continue to weed out nettles, thistles and docks.

Emperor dragonfly egglaying Jul16Dragonflies have found the new habitat and three odanata species (Emperor Dragonfly, Common Blue Damselfly and Common Darter) were seen egglaying in the water. The marginal plants Blue Water-speedwell and Brooklime have naturally arrived to start growing. In July we saw two unidentified newts in the pond and then found a Great Crested Newt under a pile of stones. The wildflowers have attracted bees, hoverflies and butterflies. This increase in local biodiversity during the first few months demonstrates how we can help to give nature a home.

Hibernaculum Aug16As expected, the water level fell by about 50cm through the summer and rain in winter will then refill the pond. Thanks to the local volunteers who helped to cultivate the disturbed bare ground ready for seed sowing (link to seed list) and build a hibernaculum (pile of stones and wood topped with soil) as habitat for amphibians. A log pile is planned and the pond area can be seen from the public footpath along the Lime Avenue.


Walk at Mill Farm Organic, 8th Sep 2016

Mill Farm cattleJoin us for a guided farm walk at Mill Farm Organic, Isington, GU34 4PN on Thursday 8th September. Lead by Nick and Jenny Shaylor, meet at the Farm Shop at 6pm and finishing about 8pm. Outdoor clothing and sturdy footwear recommended.

Learn about what we do on this mixed organic farm and how we produce great quality, fully traceable meat locally in Isington under a low input, forage based organic farming system. The farm spans a wide range of habitats and has a strong focus on sustainability and nature conservation, which will be a key focus of the evening. It would be useful to email to let us know numbers or you are all welcome to just turn up on the evening.


The ‘Magic of Bees’ a talk and walk 23rd July 2016

Find out why bees are important and how to identify some of the commonly seen solitary and bumblebees.

On the 23rd July come along and hear about “The Magic of Bees” followed by a walk to see what’s buzzing in Froyle. – Meet at the Village Hall at 10am. We will be visiting the rec and nearby gardens. Please check this website page if weather conditions look uncertain. We are fortunate – our walk leader, Mike Edwards, co-authored the ‘Field Guide to Bumblebees of Great Britain and Ireland’!

Woolcarder Bee
Woolcarder Bee
Bombus lucorum m
Bombus lucorum m
Bombus hypnorum queen
Bombus hypnorum queen