I am a freelance writer and diversional therapist, living in Brisbane's North West. I write for Weekend Notes, Must do Brisbane and Starts at Sixty. Visit my blogs at babybloomin.wordpress.com and brisbanetripster.wordpress.com.
At a recent Open Gardens event I had the pleasure of meeting Jo Hammond, the butterfly lady, who just happens to be a passionate horticulturalist and photographer. What's her favourite subject? You guessed it, butterflies! She presented a fun and informative session on "all things butterfly".
Of herself Jo says, "I am a passionate horticulturist, specialising in native Australian plants to attract butterflies to your garden, be it your back garden, inspirational gardens or sensory gardens."
Caterpillar of the Orchard Swallowtail butterfly - image courtesy of Jo Hammond
Jo is a bright and bubbly personality and took us all on a fun and entertaining journey into the world of caterpillars and butterflies. Have you ever wondered what kind of plants you need to attract more butterflies into your garden? Or maybe you've been wondering what those caterpillars in your garden will eventually turn into - a butterfly or moth of course, but what kind? A resource that Jo recommends to help you identify caterpillars and butterflies is '"Create More Butterflies" by Frank Jordan and Helen Schwencke.
Jo explained that if you know which type of butterfly you'd like to encourage into your garden, then you can provide the plants for the butterflies to lay their eggs on and that the particular caterpillar likes to eat (host plants) and the plants that the adult butterflies like to feed on (nectar plants). Butterfly host plants are often difficult and time consuming to propagate and tend to be overlooked by the bigger nurseries, some of the plants are even on endangered plant lists.
Chrysalis of the Orchard Swallowtail butterfly - image courtesy of Jo Hammond
This is where Jo's expertise really comes to the fore, as she knows her "butterfly stuff"! She emphasizes the importance of butterflies to the biodiversity of your garden. Spend a little time in the butterfly lady's company and you'll learn which plants to grow, the difference between host plants and nectar plants, how to start a butterfly garden, how to grow healthy butterfly plants and much, much more.
Get a group of your green thumb friends together and book a butterfly plant party, where all the above topics will be addressed. Do you know the collective noun for butterflies? There are a couple, actually. This year there has been an abnormally high butterfly population in South East Queensland. This is partly due to the fact that many of the butterfly's predators have been affected by the very dry conditions this part of the State has experienced. You may, therefore, have seen many flurries or flutters of butterflies!
Male Orchard Swallowtail butterfly - image courtesy of Jo Hammond
Through her business, Butterfly Host Plants, Jo grows and sells butterfly host plants and nectar plants from her point of sale at Ferny Grove. She also visits libraries (giving free talks), attends Open Garden events and gardening expos, undertakes on site consultations and offers a range of packages that will see you well on your way to establishing a butterfly garden.
Jo has appeared on television programs, Totally Wild and Gardening Australia. Her next free talk will be at the Mt Gravatt library on May 16th and her next plant stall will be at "Herb Awareness" - the Queensland Herb Society's annual show - on May 24th at the Albion Peace Hall in Windsor.
Female Orchard Swallowtail butterfly - image courtesy of Jo Hammond
With a wry grin this butterfly lover tells us that she came to Australia with the intention of becoming a pig farmer! I think the butterflies of Queensland are lucky that her career changed directions and ideas of becoming a pig farmer just .... fluttered away!
HI Sandy enjoyed reading your article. Have a lot of butterflies in my garden and would love to know what to plant to attract them. Jo sounds like the woman with all the answers. Thanks for sharing Marina