News – Page 6


Jean Powley

6 Spot Burnet

Photo by Jean Powley

Marvellous Moths

This month sees the start of the Big Butterfly Count in which people from all over the country record the species of butterflies they come across. The results are then forwarded to Butterfly Conservation so that they can find out how well the population of individual species are doing. The count starts on 16th July and ends on 8th August and is open to anyone to participate. It’s especially great to get children involved. More information may be found at

Also commencing in July is Moth Night and that is between 8th and 10th July. Moth enthusiasts will put out their moth traps, and again, record the species they find. I think it is safe to say moths are misunderstood and even disliked by many. In fact, they are a very important asset as they help pollinate flowers and are also part of the food chain. Without moths, we would have no bats and fewer birds. Did you know that there are approximately 2,500 species of moths compared to 50 species of butterflies in Britain?  You may have over an astounding 100 species in your garden alone. Because moths are so misunderstood there are many myths about them. So let me dispel some of them.

Moths only fly at night. This is false. There are some moths which fly during daytime such as Five and Six- spotted Burnets, the Cinnabar and the Hummingbird Hawkmoth.

Moths only appear in the summer months.  You can actually see moths throughout the year although most appear during the summer months.

Moths are drab and plain. There are some very colourful and even gaudy moths and some have very intricate patterns so they can camouflage themselves.

All moths eat clothes. This is not true. There are a very few species of moths which eat clothing and they only eat fabric derived from animals, i.e. wool. They do not eat cotton or synthetics and they prefer dirty clothing to clean clothing.

Like some species of butterflies, moths are in trouble and the populations of many species have rapidly declined. It is important then to encourage them into your garden by growing plants from which they can feed on. Plant Honeysuckle, Common Jasmine, Evening Primrose, Night Scented Stock, Sweet Rocket and some Tobacco plants. The larvae of moths also need plants to feed off. If you have a hawthorn hedge you may see the larvae of Swallow-tailed and Brimstone Moths. If you have Fuchsias, look out for the amazing caterpillar of the Elephant Hawk Moth. 

Why not see how many different moths you have in your garden?  A white sheet with a light fixed on it should attract some or just keep a light on for a while and they may come fluttering against your window. If you could see how many moths come to your ‘light traps’ you will be really surprised.

Jean Powley

BTO Garden BirdWatch is a weekly survey that has been running since 1995. The survey which is free and open to all generates valuable information on the use that birds and other   wildlife makes of gardens. The information is then used by the BTO researchers to understand the importance of gardens and other resources, like supplementary food that we provide. I am one of the many volunteers or ‘citizen scientists’ who help the BTO and am the Ambassador for the scheme in Nottinghamshire.

If you are interested in joining the scheme, visit

Common Forester

Photo by Jean Powley

Elephant Hawkmoth

Photo by Jean Powley

Elephant Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Photo by Jean Powley


Woodborough Horticultural Society

The Committee have decided that, in view of the current situation and the continuing uncertainty, we would not hold our Rose & Summer Flower Show on the 19th July as we had originally hoped. Although we may be able to meet on that date, announcements on the future situation were still pending and that the notice of any changes would be far too short for us to operate. On top of this many of you may understandably still feel nervous and find it too early to partake in the social. Food would have to be plated, numerous precautions would still probably have to be taken and doubtless entries would be down on past numbers.

We still hope to hold the Autumn Show on 4th September, but we will make a decision about this when the committee meet again on 26th July. We have speakers booked for October 11th and November 8th (alongside our AGM) and we will continue to monitor the situation over the coming weeks.

Flower of the month – The Delphinium

The Delphinium belongs to the family of Ranunculaceae, the same as buttercups. There is nothing quite like a perennial border full of Delphiniums. Visit some of the most famous gardens of Britain and you are certain to see these beautiful tall flowers form a colourful backdrop. They are not the easiest of plants to grow as they need a lot of attention and are very exacting in their requirements. They hate clay and usually have to be staked. These are flowers which have to be planted at the back of the border as some reach the heady height of approximately 2m. They are also susceptible to slug damage and disease. The delphinium is not for the faint-hearted.

The word Delphinium comes from the Ancient Greek word ‘delphis or delphinos’ meaning dolphin. Its individual flowers are thought to resemble this marine creature. It is a native plant of the northern hemisphere and on the high mountains of the African continent. They belong to a genus of approx. 300 species and come in colours of white, pink, purple, blue, red and yellow, blue being the most popular colour. They come in singles and doubles and there are three main groups – Elatum, Belladonna and Pacific hybrids. The most popular group is the Elatum group and they can grow up to 2m. The Belladonna group is made up of singles only and can attain the height of 1.2 m. The Pacific Hybrids are short-lived annuals and biennials. Recently a new group called Magic Fountains has been added. These are compact and only grow to 0.5 m. There is an annual Delphinium called the Larkspur which is smaller and flowers all summer. All species of delphiniums are toxic to humans and pets.  

Growing conditions: Delphiniums prefer to grow in well-drained soil and full sun and should be sheltered from wind. They should be planted with compost or well-rotted manure at the bottom of the hole in which they are to be planted.  If you have heavy soil like clay, add grit to assist drainage. Apply liquid fertiliser as soon as the shoots appear and water well during summer. When the shoots appear, you must keep an eye out for slugs which will devour the small shoots. As the flowers grow, you must support them with canes or planting frames. When they have finished flowering, cut them down to the ground and you should get a second flush of flowers later in the year.

Diseases: In dry weather, the delphinium can be affected by powdery mildew. If your plants show signs of this, ensure the soil around them is moist. Rust is another disease which can affect them. This appears on the leaves so pick them off if this occurs. Delphinium Black Blotch is a bacterial disease which causes large black blotches on the leaves. This tends to occur during wet summers. Unfortunately, you will have to dispose of any plants showing this disease or it will spread.  

Delphiniums can be grown from seed. Sow between February to June or September and October. Keep at a constant temperature of 50 to 60 degrees. Flowers grown by seed will most likely flower the following year.

Delphiniums are not the easiest of plants to grow but if you follow the rules, you will find it very rewarding. Bees will also be thankful as they love them.

Delphiniums Growing at Burton Agnes Gardens


With a hope of better times to come, we have set out the following programme. All of these events are subject to Government rulings and local conditions at the time. We will obviously inform you of any changes in the future. If you wish to join the Society please visit our Web page for further information. You would be most welcome.

Upcoming Events

September 4th 2021 – 7.30am (for setting up and registering)
2pm-4pm  – The Autumn Show.

October 11th 2021  – 7.30-9.30pm
Speaker – Ian Retson –
The Woodland  Trust

November 8th 2021 – 7.30-9.30pm
AGM followed by Speaker- Jeff Bates. Historic Gardens of Derbyshire.

December 6th 2021 – 7.30-9.30pm
Society Social Evening + buffet.


January 10th 2022-7.30-9.30pm
Speaker- Graham Piearce. 
 The Rose family of  Trees

February 14th 2022 – 7.30-9.30pm
Speaker – Neil Timm – Ferns