Claire House Butterfly Garden Project

Claire House Children's Hospice care for babies and children to 18 years with life threatening or life limiting conditionbutterfly logo of Association of Children's Hospicess and their families, from Merseyside, Cheshire, North Wales and the Isle of Man, providing respite, palliative, terminal and bereavement care. The butterfly logo is the symbol of the umbrella organisation of children's hospices and is chosen to represent the fragility and beauty of the children's short lives.

Gardening for Butterflies Group members have created a sensory garden at Claire House to attract butterflies and other wildlife and to provide interest for visiting and resident children of the hospice.

The design

The colour scheme of the side of the garden facing the house is generally mauves and purples (asters and sweet rocket, lavender 'Hidcote' hedge), pinks and reds (Sweet Williams, echinacea), blues (viper's bugloss, cornflowers and cranesbill) and whites (ox-eye daisy, everlasting pea, hebe albicans). On the other side of the garden, the plants are rather less formal, lower and more rambling, and colours are mainly sunnier yellows (bird's-foot trefoil, wild rock-rose, goldenrod), oranges and reds (pot marigold, French Marigold 'Naughty Marietta' and nasturtiums) with some blue to cool the general colour scheme (lobelia, hyssop, scabious, nepata 'Six hills giant). Permanent features include stone paving, seats, obelisks and trellis.

Butterfly Garden painting by Valerie Baines

The honeysuckle will, in time, cover the trellis, and the buddleias will become more like trees, while the rest of the plants, like the lavender hedge, will become more established. The garden contains more than 40 sorts of plants, nearly all of the Butterfly Conservation list of the top twenty best nectar plants, as well as plants known to be used by butterflies and moths for their larval food plants.

The work

The plans, funding and space have all been established and work on creating the garden began in May 2003.

Construction of the garden - Click here to see a bigger pictureSeven members started the work on 17 May at 10.00 by double digging the site. The heavy clay soil and rain conspired to make life difficult but we managed to get the job done.

On a further visit to Claire House later in May, the paving area was laid and it was decided that as the soil was so heavy, it would be beneficial to get some topsoil and this was put down on 11 June.

Planting was completed on 21 June and thanks to the generosity of members who donated plants, we were able to acquire ever one of the 39 plant varieties listed on the plan designed by Valerie Baines, with the exception of Viper's bugloss "Echium Vulgaris" and Sheepsbit "Jasione Montana".

The results

Despite the dry hot weather in July and August, the planting has been highly successful and the display of flowers has been magnificent considering nothing was planted until the latter half of June.

Claire House had their annual Open Day on 13 September and the Butterfly Garden was officially opened by Vince Earl (better known as Ron Dixon or Ron Dicko from Brookside). A good number of members of the Butterflies for Gardening Group came to support the event and I think everybody was pleased with the results of their efforts. In the afternoon a visit to Ness Gardens had been arranged and that completed a highly enjoyable day.

This garden is designed to attract butterflies, moths, bees and other insects, and supply them with a succession of nectar plants or food plants for their larval stages most of the year round. Although no regular monitoring has been done, people have seen; Common Blue, Holly Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Several white butterflies, Gatekeeper, Speckled Wood and Several unidentified moths.

We must express our sincere thanks to the staff at Claire House for all their help, and to the local businesses who sponsored the butterfly garden.