Bee and Butterfly Fest.

What a difference a few days of non-stop sunshine makes, summer has arrived at last and the bees and butterflies are making up for lost time. Certain areas of the garden are buzzing and flitting, movement everywhere, its fantastic.

Tortoiseshell butterflies


The buddleia bushes are having a rest, having been deadheaded, it will be maybe another week before the side shoots will be flowering once more. In their place, the plant the insects seem to prefer is Eupatorium Atropurpureum. This is a massive plant this year, thanks to all the rain, well over 7ft tall and the flower heads must be a good 10 inches across.

Bees and butterflies

When photographing the bees and butterflies I use the macro lens which is normally used for the flower photos, so I am just a couple of inches away from them. The bees sometimes fly round my head but so far I’ve never felt threatened. I wish I was 2 ft taller, then this photo would have been much better!

Tortoiseshell butterfly

There are so many Tortoiseshell butterflies at the moment, they seem to be everywhere. The butterflies aren’t the least bit bothered by all the bees feeding at the same time, amazing.

Red Admiral butterfly

We seem to have just as many Red Admiral butterflies, quite often 4 or 5 on this plant at once.

Evening Primrose

This bee stayed for such a long time, having a really good feed from  one of the many evening primrose plants, Oenothera. This is the wild plant which is a bit too generous with its seeds but by leaving the old stems standing in the winter we have the benefit of Goldfinches visiting which come to eat the seed.


I hadn’t realised that bees would be attracted to the Kniphophia in the front border, wouldn’t have thought they would be able to access the nectar.

Heliopsis helianthoides scabra Summer Sun

One of my new plants, Heliopsis helianthoides scabra Summer Sun, is drawing in the bees even before it has been planted.

Twinings After Eight

Dahlia ‘ Twinings After Eight’ is just as good for food as the other flowers in the Bee and Butterfly border, must get some more single flowered dahlias.

Anthemis Sauce Hollandaise

Anthemis ‘Sauce Hollandaise’ has been flowering non stop for months now, I have just taken some cuttings so that next year we can have it elsewhere in the garden. Good bee plant.

Rudbeckia Little Gold Star

My new plant from Killerton, Rudbeckia ‘ Little Gold Star’, has been feeding the bees ever since I brought it home. Even though the flowers are much smaller than the normal Rudbeckia, there are so many of them on just this one plant, 35 at the last count, so that should keep lots of bees happy.

Verbena bonariensis

Where would we be without Verbena bonariensis, loved by bees, butterflies and humans! They seemed to take a long time before flowering this year, probably because of all the rain, but once they started, it has been a non stop nectar bar with bees and butterflies queueing up!


Out of all the flowers that are being visited at the moment, also by Gatekeepers and Peacocks, definitely the favourite with all the bees and butterflies is Eupatorium Atropurpureum. Each huge flower head is covered with insects and and they are so concentrated on what can only be described as a feeding frenzy, that they don’t notice me with my little camera only a couple of inches away. If you have room, this is a definite ‘must have’ plant for your garden and even if you don’t have room , try to squeeze it in somewhere, you won’t regret it once the bees and butterflies arrive!


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16 Responses to Bee and Butterfly Fest.

  1. catmint says:

    hi Pauline, thanks for a wonderfully buzzy flitty post. What a frenzied spot your garden is at the moment. I guess the insects are making up for the poor summer. I do of course want a Eupatorium purpureum and a Verbena bonarinesis, but I fear there’s no more room at the inn!

    • Pauline says:

      Catmint, would a shoehorn help?! I agree, the garden is wonderfully busy with insects at the moment, I love just wandering round to see what I can find. Insects and humans are enjoying the sunshine!

  2. Liz says:

    Hi Pauline,

    Lovely to see you have so many butterflies – still no Red Admirals here; I assume you stole mine! How very dare you!!!


    I’ll look into getting the other plant you mention… Reality is, 7foot is too large for my garden but I’ll check it out anyway 🙂

    • Pauline says:

      I think I must have Liz, sorry about that!! The Eupatorium I mentioned was given to me by a friend when it outgrew her garden, I think she called it E.p. atropurpureum, but couldn’t find that in the Plantfinder when I was checking the names in my post so thought I should err on the side of caution. I know 7 ft is tall but so far it hasn’t taken up much room sideways!
      P.S. Have since found it Liz and it is Eupatorium atropurpureum.

  3. Christina says:

    I’m so glad all the butterflies and bees have arrived in your garden and that summer has arrived too. Eupatorium purpureum is a great plant but it does need lots of water so anyone with free draining soil, let alone drought would struggle to grow it well. It does grow in the irrigation ditches here but there it has its feet in water! I think the insect on the Verbena bonariensis is a bee fly. A fly that looks like a bee, did it have a long proboscis? They are a parasite of solitary bees; we have them here too. Christina

    • Pauline says:

      We are all so glad that summer has arrived at last Christina, it makes such a difference. Apologies, I made a mistake in naming the Eupatorium, I have now corrected it, it should have been Eupatorium Atropurpureum, sorry about that. We do also have the wild one in the garden, but I do pull most of that out because it seeds around too much if I don’t cut it down in time. I was close to the insect on the Verbena but sorry, didn’t examine the length of its proboscis!

  4. What a fabulous array of pollinator-friendly plants.

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you Janet, I’m trying to do what I can for our pollinators as we rely on them for so much. I realised I didn’t have many daisy type plants so am busy buying more as the insects have shown that they are full of what they want, lovely nectar!

  5. wellywoman says:

    Verbena is an amazing plant for insects and my sedums are just covered in honey bees at the moment. I always feel really pleased to know I’m doing something to help by planting these nectar rich plants. The sunshine of this week has made such a difference. Lets hope it continues.

    • Pauline says:

      I’ll echo that WW, we deserve a decent spell of sunshine don’t we! My Sedum are not quite out yet, but when they are there will be even more nectar for them all to enjoy, nice to know that we are all doing something right!

  6. It is funny that while you are enjoying some sunny days at last, we have been getting the rain we have been sorely missing all summer. With the drought my Joe Pye Weed is only about 4 ft tall. Yours must make a definite statement at 7 ft!

    • Pauline says:

      Jennifer, I think world wide, we have all had to cope with strange weather this year, it will certainly show which plants are adaptable and which gardeners too! Yes, I’ll agree my Eupatorium atropurpurpeum is certainly impressive, and I think the bees and butterflies are impressed too, they just can’t leave it alone!

  7. wonderful images of the nectar hunters Pauline, re the bee on the knophophia sometimes I’ve noticed with flowers with a long tube they are crafty and make a hole in the petal low down to get at the nectar, if it did that you can see little pin prick low on the flower, glad you are all getting some summer weather now, Frances
    p.s. I’m kind of interested in what Christina said about the fly bee as I have some similar in my garden,

    • Pauline says:

      We are still enjoying our late summer Frances, thank you and the bees and buttterflies are still enjoying all the flowers. Its quite hypnotic watching all the insects on the huge flowers, so many of them all at once. I’m hoping that my Eupatorium will be big enough to split next spring, would love to have more clumps in the garden.

  8. debsgarden says:

    Your Eupatoreum is magnificent, and I want one! I could squeeze it into my wildflower garden, and I hope the bees and butterflies will love it as much as they love yours. Does it reseed? If so, all the better!

    • Pauline says:

      It is magnificent, isn’t it Deb, hope you can shoehorn it in somewhere! So far, I’ve not allowed it to go to seed, because I don’t think it would come true with it being a hybrid. The wild Joe Pye weed keeps popping up everywhere and gets pulled out before it can go to seed. I think the way to increase it will be by division, last year it had 3 stems but this year it has 10, maybe 1 more year and I can chop some off for elsewhere in the garden.

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