Welcome to the 'Butterfly' Jungle

We assume there will be plenty of talk about ‘jungles’ over the weekend, with another I’m a Celebrity- ‘Get me out of here!’ about to start on Sunday. So we thought we’d introduce you to a different type of jungle today – a butterfly jungle.
Paul Allen Butterfly Jungles
Last year we were approached by Paul Allen from Butterfly Jungles, an RHS award winning landscaper, who creates gardens and environments that are specifically designed with butterflies in mind. Paul had been appointed to advise and design a new butterfly friendly area around the Riverside development in Ferry Quays in London. He has subsequently developed a fantastic Butterfly Sanctuary, creating several different habitats using our Wildflower Turf as a key element in the design. We spoke to Paul earlier this month to talk through the project and find out how the Sanctuary had faired over the last year.
Brown Field Site at Ferry Point
The site had originally started off as a brown field site in the heart of the Riverside developments in East London. As you can see from the picture there really was very little in the way of biodiversity, the site being predominantly rubble and bare ground.
A variety of different areas within the open space were planned to create a number of habitats in order to increase the richness and diversity of visiting wildlife. Paul stated that at the start of the project there was certainly very little in the way of butterfly and insect sightings.  Due to the barren nature of the soil here we knew that the wildflower turf would thrive.
We used a number of different mixes of seeds to work within the different environments being created, over-sowing our classic wildflower landscape turf mix with seeds of flowers that Paul knew were butterfly magnets. The Grassland Hill is a typical downland style habitat with low growing grasses and lots of nectar rich wildflowers.
Butterfly 9 Butterfly 5
The wildflower meadow is filled with wildflowers that thrive on slightly moist soils. The woodland is a mix of willows, scrub and buddlejas that have been allowed to grow to tree-like proportions. Woodland wildflower banks have also been created here to attract even more wildlife. The other area is described as a Prairie, where they have mixed wildflowers with cultivated grasses and herbaceous perennials.
Butterflies at the Butterfly Sanctuary, Ferry PointButterfly 4
We also love the idea of their ‘Nectar Bar’ which is a large flowerbed full of all different varieties of buddleja and under planted with lovely spring and summer flowering plants. As part of the sanctuary design, the landscapers also reclaimed elements from the site and recycled them as features within the gardens.
The gardens were opened with a release of 300 native butterflies and the area has been further enhanced with beautiful signage to help residents and visitors alike to identify and develop interest in the different species that they see.
Butterfly 8Butterfly 2Butterfly 3Butterfly 6
Within the first year Paul was thrilled to report that 22 species of butterfly had been identified in the Sanctuary.
He is convinced that these types of areas are key in developing green corridors within cities. ‘If you develop areas with the right type of planting and habitat making opportunities for different species, the wildlife will come.’
Paul is just putting the finishing touches to a new Butterfly Jungle Experience, at Hall Place in Bexley. Here visitors will be able to walk amongst free flying butterflies in a rainforest environment. It will be a great educational experience for schools and a lovely day out for all butterfly fans. There will also be a new plant centre offering a large and extensive range of butterfly attracting plants, shrubs and wildflowers. This is a brand new concept and worlds away from your local garden centre, the first ever plant shop aimed solely at pollinators and wildlife. 96% of all plants sold will be either a nectar plant for butterflies and bees or a caterpillar foodplant.
To find out more about Paul’s work visit his website here. With thanks to Nic Doczi, Photographer.
Have a great weekend and get planting those bulbs before the ground is too hard!