In my wildlife garden we are having a good June in terms of weather. Wet summers have dominated here for the last few years so it has been wonderful to have a month when some of the weather as least is as it should be - warm and dry. This has brought out a good number of butterflies including, as we approach the end of the month, some of our meadow butterflies especially meadow brown and ringlet. These species light up our big meadow area, dancing over the grasses and wildflowers, only settling long enough to take a sip of nectar from the newly opening knapweed. Other plants well in flower are the oxeye daisies – one of my favourites - which form a white bank on the side of my pond. In the evenings these plants give off a slightly unpleasant musky scent - hence their alternative name of dog daisy- but this doesn’t detract from their massed beauty.
The star plant in the garden this month though is the common spotted orchid. Visitors to the garden assume that we were fortunate to take over land where this wonderful plant grew naturally in such abundance, but this is not the case. The area where the meadow now blossoms was simply the corner of a field of winter wheat, complete with docks and thistles. After removing these weedy plants I sowed a meadow seed mixture to which I added a very small quantity of common spotted orchid seeds, never expecting to see the results of my optimism. This year I counted over 500 orchids in bloom all around the garden - they have spread like wildfire. Fortunately I chose the species well – they like our heavy soil here – and they will hopefully continue to bloom and spread.
Besides the wildflower meadow the big wildlife pond has been the focus of many of my lunchtime garden wanderings. The dragonfly and damselfly population has increased tremendously since the pond was created. Lots of the larger dragonfly species are well established now including both the four-spot chaser and broad-bodied chaser. These stunning insects argue constantly over territory, fighting, and chasing as their name suggests, not just with other members of their own species but with the huge emperor dragonflies that also appear this month. Watching them lay their eggs is fascinating and it's good to know that the pond we created has their seal of approval. Common blue damselflies are also abundant in June, mating and egg laying in the shallower water at the pond’s edge.
June can be a make or break month for many wildlife garden species. If it is warm and dry there will be plenty of food in the form of small insects for swallows, martins and all the recently fledged birds, plus warmth brings nectar bearing flowers into bloom to supply butterflies and bees with food. A warm June is a wonderful time of year for everyone.