A Poem for September
Lambley Historical Society
Guided Tour of University Park
In July, we enjoyed a guided heritage tour with two volunteers from the Friends of University Park around a few of the many interesting places in the park. University Park is the main campus of the University of Nottingham and home to many students and staff. It is a beautiful park of about 300 acres with many areas of interest, beautiful trees and planted garden areas together with several original buildings that were there before the University.
Our guides took us around the exterior of some of University Park’s Historic Houses. We were told about the rich history of some the properties and their inhabitants. This included Lenton Hall, now part of the Hugh Stewart Hall, Highfield House and the Trent Building. We also had chance to look at some of the lovely gardens around the Park. Every now and then, ‘Jesse Boot’ popped up in various stages of his life, to tell us his part in the story and how he wanted to improve the lives of people in Nottingham. He donated the land and gave a lot of money to the University.
We resume our evening meetings in September and our next meeting will be September 23rd when we have Mark Dawson talking about Food and Drink in Tudor and Stuart Nottingham.
Painted Lady on Buddleia
Photo by Jean Powley
A good year for butterflies?
As I write this, it is the last day of the Big Butterfly Count, i.e. 11th August and compared to last year I have had a good number of butterflies in my garden. This is partly due to the weather and my choice of plants. I have deliberately planted bee and butterfly friendly plants and now I am reaping the rewards. The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) classify the Buddleia, which originated from China, as an invasive non-native species and yes it has become a problem alongside railway tracks but in a controlled situation, it is one of, if not the best plant to have in your garden if you want to attract butterflies. This year my Buddleias were hosts to Peacock, Red Admiral, Comma and Painted Lady butterflies and of course Small Whites.
The numbers of Painted Ladies seen this year has been phenomenal. They are classed as an irruptive migrant. Painted Ladies do not overwinter here and reach us by migrating all the way from North Africa. Their migration is unpredictable in that some years numbers are low and there are some years we actually get millions and this is what has happened this year. The last time we had such huge numbers was in 2009. It was estimated that eleven million of them were seen in that year alone.
The Painted Lady is the most widely distributed butterfly in the world and inhabits every continent but Australia and Antarctica. It is the only butterfly recorded in Iceland. Another name for it is the thistle butterfly because its favourite plant for nectar is the thistle. Its Latin name is Vanessa cardui meaning ‘butterfly of the thistle.’ This delicate insect can fly fast and far and can cover 100 miles a day, sometimes reaching up to 30 miles per hour. How amazing for such a small fragile insect.
Once here the female lays her eggs on thistle (Cirsium spp or Carduius spp.) plants, mallows, Common nettle and Viper’s-bugloss. The caterpillar when it emerges is black and speckled with tiny white spots and has a yellow strip down each side. It is covered in spines. When it is ready to pupate, it constructs a tent of folded leaves fastened with silk. It will emerge as an adult butterfly in August or September thus increasing the population of butterflies already here. The adults will either migrate back to Africa or die in the British winter. It is only in recent years that this butterfly has been known to return to Africa. Not easy when our prevailing winds are south-westerly.
It is too early to say if other species have done as well as the Painted Lady but certainly in my garden, it has been a very good year.
Jean is a voluntary Ambassador for the British Trust for Ornithology’s Garden BirdWatch scheme in Nottinghamshire. If you enjoy watching birds and other wildlife which visit your garden, Garden BirdWatch may be perfect for you. If you would like a free information pack about the scheme, contact Jean at email@example.com or visit www.bto.org/gbw