On the 30th April the Biodiversity Gardens team went to call in on a couple of households that are running our small blue project that was started at the end of last year. Seeds for kidney vetch, which is very rare in Sutton, were planted in chalky soils in suitable gardens around this time. This is the food plant for the small blue butterfly caterpillar, so by planting more we hope to increase the numbers of this often overlooked species.
The weather was beautiful, and the birds and butterflies were out in force, but the first garden we visited had no signs of the plant. The garden itself however, was very wildlife friendly, with lots of wildflowers and we even spotted a holly blue and an orange tip butterfly fluttering around. The real treat though was seeing a family of fox cubs next door, which were very cute! We even managed to snap a quick shot of one peeking its little head out from their den under the shed.
The next garden we visited was the perfect example of a well managed but wildlife friendly garden, with neatly cut grass and lots of pretty, native, pollinator friendly flowers in neat colour coordinated beds. Unlike our first site the kidney vetch was flourishing, giving us hope for the small blue. Of our six Sutton priority species the owners had seen four of them: stag beetles, swifts, house sparrows and lots of toads living in their pond. Only the hedgehog and the small blue had not been spotted yet. As well as a very diverse garden, they also had a very healthy pond, with many little toadpols and a couple of beautiful smooth newts!
It may have been a mixed start for our kidney vetch, but we were still excited to see gardens as biologically rich as these two. Both sets of home owners have signed up for us to survey their gardens later in the summer, which we will look forward to greatly. Who knows what we will find! If you would like your own garden surveyed, please get in touch!