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Count your butterflies

Count your butterflies for this year's Big Butterfly Count, the initiative run by Butterfly Conservation which draws on ordinary gardeners to help monitor populations of this much-loved but endangered garden regular.

All you have to do is find a quiet spot somewhere in your garden any time between now and the end of August, sit down for 15 minutes and record any butterflies you see. You'll find an ID chart and full instructions on the website (

You can bump up the count in your garden by growing loads of butterfly-friendly plants, and you'll find a wonderful selection in our garden centre. With a good range of nectar-rich plants you can attract up to 18 different species of butterfly and moth to your garden, and help reverse the dramatic population declines of recent years.

Among butterfly-friendly plants to look out for are of course Buddleja davidii (the aptly named butterfly bush); tall, elegant Verbena bonariensis; any species of lavender; and Sedum spectabile (ice plant). Don't forget to add food plants for caterpillars like ornamental grasses and honesty, and a few flowers for moths, too. Evening-flowerers like nicotiana and the heavenly scent of Lonicera periclymenum 'Graham Thomas' should have them flocking in.