Make your own butterfly Garden

It’s that time of year when parts of the garden start fluttering, and butterflys can be seen dancing in the wind and lazing in the sun.  Whether you have a huge plot or a small terrace with just enough room for a few pots, with the right plants you can build your own butterfly haven.

What is a Butterfly Garden?

It is simply a sunny spot, filled with plants that specifically attract butterflies and are generally nectar-producing flowers. Butterflies are present in almost every region of the world, so with the right plants virtually any spot can become a haven for them.  Children will love spotting them fluttering about, and it can make a good game identifying the different types you see. If you are lucky enough to find one bathing in the sun, you can creep up, using one of our magnifying glasses and take a proper look. Be careful not to touch them though, butterfly wings are very delicate.

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So here are a few pointers:

It it good to have a variety of different plants that flower at different times of the year, ensuring a ready supply of nectar for your visitors.  In Spring good nectar providing plants are Cuckoo Flower (Ladies Smock), Forget-me-not, Wallflower, Sweet Rocket, Primrose and Daisies.  In Summer and Autumn, Budleia, French Marigold, Lavender, Ice Plant, Red Valerian, Michaelmas Daisy, Scabious, Knapweed and Ivy are all good. The seeds provided in our Butterfly Garden Grow Set offer a range of perfect flowers that are sure to attract butterflies into your garden.

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Grow set with everything you need to start your own butterfly garden.

Butterflies thrive in the sun and the plants that attract them are typically plants that require lots of sunlight. When choosing your location, look for an area where there will be plenty of sun throughout the day.

Try and pick a spot that offers good protection from the wind – Butterflies are delicate and like sunny areas with very little wind. By creating a sheltered garden you will attract more butterflies. You can do this by planting tall plants and shrubbery to act as a barrier around smaller nectar producing ones.  Choose plants that butterflies like to lay their eggs on too, they love cabbage plants but be careful as they will take over.  Perhaps if you are growing cabbages leave a few unnetted so the butterflies can lay eggs on those rather than your whole crop.

Most pesticides kill or repel butterflies so organic growing methods are a great choice for a butterfly garden. Choose an area where pest control isn’t necessary or where you can limit your use of chemicals.

Most importantly enjoy and protect the butterflies that visit! Encourage children to observe them in their natural habitat and talk about the vital part they have to play in our ecosystem. Butterflies are a beautiful part of the garden and one to be truly cherished.

Vegetable stones

I have lost count of the number of times I have planted seeds, not labelled them and then forgotten what they are. Painting stone markers is a great way to make sure this doesn’t happen to you, as well as being a fun and creative activity for the children.

You need to get some really nice, flat stones so a trip to the beach can be a very exciting way to start this activity. We did just this so had a few that we could use but we also hunted for a few more in the garden.

I showed the children which seeds we would be planting, as well as some other plants that needed markers and they decided what they would like to paint. I have to say, I was really impressed with the results. This is a fantastic activity for developing fine motor skills, the brushes are very small and the stones themselves can be fiddly too so to see them painting like they did made me one very proud mama.

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We used acrylic paint which dried very quickly so we had time to plant the seeds and lay the stones down among them and the larger plants.

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As you can see we also did some strawberries. The idea of this isn’t to remember what they are, our planted are already established, but it is to deter birds. Supposedly the birds see the painted strawberries and try to eat them, on discovering that they are in fact not real strawberries they leave the real strawberries alone when they ripen! This is our first attempt at this method so I will let you know how it goes.

For other great activity ideas for you and your children check out our tips and tricks page Here.

Nature hanging

This is another brilliantly simple activity that encourages children to explore and engage with their natural surroundings. You can easily tailor it to suit their personality as well, so for example some children might like to search for spiky, scary looking plants, rocks or sticks where as others might want to have a hanging made from only the colour purple! It really is up to them.

 

You will need…

4 sticks

string and/or thread

scissors

Method…

My daughters brief was ‘to find anything you find interesting or beautiful’ and put it on a tray. Our collection consisted of a range of petals and leaves of different shapes, colours and textures.

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Tie the four sticks together to make a rectangular frame, and tie a large loop from one end to the other on one side, to hang your creation up with

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When you have assembled your selection of items, pick your favourites and attach them to the top stick with some string, or the thread for a more subtle look.

Hang your nature hanging in the garden, or indoors if you would rather, to make a lovely, natural piece of decorative art.

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Tip: Petals, flowers etc might not last long on the hanging, though some will last longer than others. They can be easily swapped for something else, providing a great opportunity to discuss the natural life cycle and changing of the seasons etc.

Coloured Sand

Sand is a fairly obviously option for entertaining the children in the garden.  They will happily play for hours, building sand castles etc. but they can get bored of it eventually so we decided to make our sand a bit more interesting by giving it a bit of colour. I have looked up various ways of doing this and have chosen the simplest method. It is likely you will have everything you need already so no shopping trip required, always a bonus!

 

You will need…

Sand

Kitchen grater

Coloured chalk

Method…

1. Using the small side of the grater (used to grate citrus peel) grate some coloured chalk into a bowl.

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2. Add sand.

It really is that easy! You can adjust the colour by adding more chalk or more sand, and ultimately, in our case at least, coloured glitter.

We decided to use our sand to make a natural picture with, as you can see. But you could just use it as regular play sand…

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Easter tree

So the weather isn’t exactly what we had all hoped for on a bank holiday weekend, but not to worry, egg hunts can easily be done inside and with this beautiful Easter tree to brighten up your house, you will soon forget about the gloomy weather outside. It is a perfect activity to do as a family so will be great to do on the wet and windy easter we are due to have this year.

The idea of decorating a tree at Easter initially comes from Germany, where trees are decorated outside, as well as bringing branches indoors to decorate with intricate and carefully decorated eggs.

My Easter tree isn’t that ornate, not this year anyway, but it is an interpretation of the German tradition that my children and I thoroughly enjoyed making.

To make your own you will need a selection of the following:easter tree

Tree branches

Paper

Pens/paint

Ribbons

Scissors

Glue

Eggs

Vase

I spotted this tree in our neighbours garden and offered some of our chicken eggs in return for a few branches. If you don’t have anything like this nearby, you can just use bare branches and make some pretend leaves and flowers to decorate them with.shrub

Decorating the tree is really up to you and your family. You can follow the German tradition and decorate eggs to hang on the tree. Or you can make some simple paper shapes, such as bunnies, chicks, eggs, flowers, leaves or birds for the children to colour in and tie on with ribbons.

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We decorated our tree in spring colours, along with some decorations I bought from our local haberdashery. This is a simple decoration that makes a beautiful centre piece for our Easter table, the children are very proud of it!

 

 

 

 

Easter hunt

With Easter just days away, it is difficult not to be tempted into buying the chocolate eggs that line the shelves of all the supermarkets. So why not try something different this year and make some easter bunnies to hunt for instead? We usually have a traditional Easter egg hunt in my sister’s orchard and last year we made these little bunnies. Needless to say, they were very popular and were incredibly easy to make. Here’s how you can make your own…

You will need:

Toilet roll tubes
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Cotton wool

Different coloured paper and card

Scissors

Black pen

Sticky eyes

Glue

How to make them:

  1. Cut some coloured paper to fit around the toilet roll tube and glue on.
  2. Cut some more paper into long ear shapes and stick to the inside of the toilet roll.
  3. Stick on the eyes
  4. Using the black pen, draw on a nose and some whiskers.
  5. Stick the cotton wool on to the back at the bottom for the fluffy tail.

Just hide them around the house or garden, remembering how many there are and where you hide them. (Or risk finding a rather sad looking bunny some time later!)

If your children won’t accept the absence of chocolate at Easter you can reward them with a mini egg for each rabbit found.

Travelling in style around the orchard – does this count as cheating?!

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Search for spring flowers

This is a brilliant activity to do just as the weather is getting warmer, to get that first bit of excitement about spring as the world starts to wake up and come back to life.

For the more competitive of you, you could split up into teams to see who can find a bit of colour first, or just stick together for a more relaxed experience. Maybe try playing the rainbow game, where you have to find a flower or plant for each colour of the rainbow.

Our first find was these tulips that are starting to make an appearance in the garden. You can just about see a little pink colour coming through, although someone has been having a little nibble of the outer leaves of one!

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The daffodils are an obvious spring flower and are coming out everywhere at the moment. If you have them in your garden,  why not take the children out and pick a few each (a good exercise in scissor safety!) After a few hours of being inside they should open up, providing a warming bloom to brighten up even the gloomiest of days.

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Rhubarb is another early bloomer and is making an appearance in our garden now. It is quite an unusual plant to look at and children can be very interested in its crinkled appearance. Rhubarb is a great freezer staple so if you have some in your garden, try making friends with someone who has an apple tree in their garden and you have a quick and easy apple and rhubarb crumble.

Rhubarb starting to come up.
Rhubarb starting to come up.

Crocuses and snowdrops are other flowers that come up early, providing an abundance of colour in an otherwise gloomy environment. Let the children have a forage around the garden or local park and see what they can find, it can be really fun to take a photo of their findings and revisit the same spot in a few weeks to see how much they have grown.