A brave old house! A garden full of bees, Large drooping poppies, and queen holly-hocks with butterflies for crowns - tree peonies, and pinks and goldilocks. from A Garden Full Of Bees by Jean Ingelow (17 March 1820 – 20 July 1897) was an English poet and novelist,
Today while I was busy in the garden I was surprised to see not just one Brimstone butterfly but two. I quickly dashed indoors to grab my camera. On returning I was disappointed to see them flutter over the hedge into next door’s garden. After putting my camera back indoors I went back to cutting the grass. To my delight one of them returned. I dashed back indoors again for my camera and was rewarded with not just a snap of the Brimstone, but a video, too. Later on, I was glad I kept my camera to hand when I spotted a dragonfly in the vegetable plot.
In the evening I read up on Brimstone butterflies and discovered that this beautiful creature is reliant on only two food sources for its survival. In today’s world, we humans need to stop focusing on just our own wants and needs but look at the bigger picture. There’s a delicate balance in the natural world as many if not all life is interlinked in some way. If we are to survive, we need to make sure we provide green corridors which allows species to move freely across the countryside. This shouldn’t just happen locally but across the whole planet so the natural world can continue its cycle of life, while keeping the balance we all need to give us life on planet Earth.
Brimstone: This butterfly is a powerful flyer and a great wanderer. The males are often seen in urban areas though it is normally found on the margins of woodland, along hedgerows and scrubby areas and thickets. Brimstone is the old word for sulphur which is yellow, and the actual word butterfly is said to come from the Anglo-Saxon name, bottor-fleoge, because of the male Brimstone’s colour resembling that of butter. The female Brimstone is very pale green, almost white, unlike the males who have yellow-green underwings and yellow upper-wings. They are our longest living butterflies at eleven months old and normally dies shortly after egg-laying is completed. Though some will survive hibernation, during cold weather, among evergreen leaves such as ivy. The Brimstone caterpillars, which are green in colour, relies on only two food plants, the buckthorn and alder buckthorn. In country lore brimstone are credited with the power to look into the future, and act as messengers, ominously warning of impending disaster.
Purging buckthorn: (rhamnus catharticus) It was once used as a purgative (having a strongly laxative effect), which was thought to help rid the body of illness and disease. Another name for this shrub was crossthorn as the short shoots occur opposite each other, forming a cross. This was thought to provide protection against witchcraft and evil. The wood of this shrub was widely used during Iron age Britain and was cut and used with other woods to create charcoal for smelting.
Alder buckthorn: (Frangula alnus) Like purging buckthorn, the alder buckthorn was used as a laxative but it has many other roles too. From explosives to dyestuffs and butchery. The charcoal from its wood is slow burning so an ideal ingredient for gunpower and making fuses. In creating natural dyes, from the bark of the alder buckthorn shades of yellows or browns were made, while from the berries came green or bluish-grey dyes. Butchers used to favour its hard, easily sharpened wood to make skewers. Once again this shrubby little tree has the power to protect against witchcraft, demons, poisons and headaches.