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We're all about the butterflies this week.

Read on for some easy tips on helping them to thrive.

Look after these beautiful creatures and be rewarded with a colourful garden this summer.

Spring has finally started to make an appearance - it may not feel much warmer but there are lambs in the fields and daffodils just about everywhere, which can only mean one thing - summer is around the corner! This week we are celebrating Learn About Butterflies Day on March 14th. These amazing creatures are essential for spreading pollen in the summer months but they are declining worldwide so they need help from everyday gardeners to allow populations to recover after this long wet winter. A couple of easy things which you can do to help are:

1. Start a butterfly garden.
Adult butterflies get their energy from nectar, and they visit gardens looking for flowers to feed on. One of the best ways to attract butterflies is to plant nectar-producing flowers that have red, yellow, orange, pink, or purple blossoms. Bluebells, marigolds, buttercups, hyacinth, clover, garden mint, thistles, blackberry bushes, heather and lavender are all great choices in UK gardens. Plant them in a sunny spot in a group so they grow in clusters. It's always worth checking which butterflies are prevalent in your area so you can grow plants to attract them as not all species are the same.

2. Make a butterfly snack.
Fresh fruit is the perfect snack when butterflies are feeding in the Spring and again in the Autumn, so simply put a bit of fruit (the riper the better) out in your garden for the butterflies to enjoy. Protect from squirrels by poking pieces into plants. Pears, apples and berries are good choices as long as they are ripe and soft.

3. Cut down on weeding.
You can't have butterflies and moths without caterpillars. Support their growth by allowing your garden to be wild around the edges. Try not to tidy up too much over winter; let leaves gather and keep pruning to a minimum so that butterflies can lay their eggs in sheltered areas protected from the weather. You will benefit the following summer after all those caterpillars have become beautiful butterflies!

4. Stop using pesticides.
Pesticides are harmful to butterflies and other pollinating insects such as bees. Avoid using them near your flowering plants, and be aware of plants bought from the garden centre that may have previously been treated - wash them before planting in the garden and buy organic plants where possible.

To help you enjoy these gorgeous critters, we've created a free downloadable print. All you need to do is click here to be taken to a high-resolution file which can be printed at any size, plus a smaller file which can be used as a wallpaper background or emailed to your friends and family - we hope you like it!

Best wishes for now, Deb

(Any thoughts? - leave your comment below!)

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