The Questions - Jane Moore author of Planting for Butterflies

Like many gardeners I take great joy in seeing butterflies, moths and other pollinators enjoying my garden.  This year in particular since taking delivery of a hive of bumble bees I have been thinking even more about making sure I have planting that is attractive to pollinators.  When I saw the new book from Jane Moore 'Planting for Butterflies, a growers guide to creating a flutter'  I knew that this was a book I would be really interested in.  I have not paid for the book but my words and opinions are as ever my own.
Jane tells us that here in the UK we have 59 species of butterflies most of whom are natives.  In the US apparently they have 525 native species and I suddenly have butterfly envy.  No matter how many species we have they are all precious and important pollinators.  

This book is truly a fascinating read.  I loved the chapter about ten important facts to know about butterflies, I did know they did not eat but I did not know they had poor eyesight.  Caterpillars do eat however; as many of us gardeners know that a Cabbage White butterfly caterpillar will decimate brassicas.  I love seeing the butterflies flit around my cabbages despite knowing that munching will ensue.  Some butterflies favour specific plants such as the Holly Blue, whilst others are more eclectic in their tastes.   Jane then goes on to tell us what we can do to garden for butterflies and that even a small space is an important space for butterflies and moths to move through our urban spaces.  The book contains a guide to common butterflies and moths we might see and also plants that they love.  There is so much more in the book that I will leave you to explore, but I found it very informative and useful.  I also loved the illustrations throughout the book by James Weston Lewis.  It is a  beautiful book to read and look at.  I know I will be considering creating a flutter as I choose plants for my garden in the future.

Jane also very kindly agreed to answer The Questions.

The Questions


In which garden do you feel happiest?

That’s a tricky question because I look after several grand gardens for my job and I love them all but, you know what it’s like, you always spot things that need doing. So, the answer must be my own garden at home because I can relax there and know there’s no-one to criticise it - except my other half and he knows when to keep quiet.



If you could only have five gardening tools, which would they be?

Another tough question! I love my Sneeboer transplanting spade; my Felco secateurs are still going strong from my college days more than 30 years ago; my tiny CK Legend shears for trimming topiary and a good pair of Stihl loppers as I seem to constantly be battling to keep things within bounds. Oh, and a good mattock for hoicking out roots of shrubs that have passed their time.



If you could only have five garden-related books, which would they be?

I’m going to take a few liberties with this question as I use my Collins Bird Guide and my Readers Digest butterfly book all the time in the garden. For pure gardening, my top book must be the RHS A to Z Encyclopaedia of Garden Plants – we have the original massive tome in the greenhouse at work which has lost its spine and covers but is still our reference bible. Roger Phillips’ Wild Flowers of Britain and the RHS Pruning book are my other go-to books.



What was the most defining moment of your life so far?

I think returning to work as a professional gardener 18 years ago. My career began as a professional gardener, then I went into magazine writing on Horticulture Week and Amateur Gardening followed by a few years researching on TV gardening programmes. I spent way too much time sitting in offices writing about the things I wanted to be doing! Now I get to do both.



What are you most proud of?

Building a small garden at Chelsea Flower Show, winning the GMG Journalist of the Year award and writing this book.



If you won the lottery, what would you do?

Buy a tiny house with a ramshackle garden and an orchard and a meadow. Tiny so there’s no housework to speak of; ramshackle so I don’t have to keep it neat, the orchard is for the donkey to graze in and the meadow is for the butterflies, of course. There would have to be a big garage too, to keep my partner happily tinkering with old cars so he doesn’t notice the donkey straight away.



Who are your garden heroes (no more than three)

Chris Baines – I first heard him speak before I became a student and I’m re-reading How to Make a Wildlife Garden again at the moment. So inspirational and a major influence on making me see the garden as an extension of nature.

Piet Oudolf and Isabelle von Groeningen (I’m counting them as one, cheekily) are both great exponents of perennials and the natural style of planting.

William Robinson for breaking the boundaries at Gravetye Manor and fathering modern gardening – and gardening journalism – as we know it.



What skill would you like to learn and why (does not have to be gardening related)

I wish I could paint with a modicum of talent – and no I don’t mean the spare room!


If you could visit any garden right this minute, which one would it be?

Stourhead, always.


What is your current plant obsession?

Ooh currently it’s wild flowers, but it will be roses next week and last week it was peonies. Fickle, aren’t I?



Which garden tool is never far from your hand?

My Felcos


What is your favourite gardening/plant related word?



What do you wish you could do better?

Remember things! Plant names, people’s names, when I last watered the Camellias…



What is the most important lesson you have learned so far?

Besides knowledge and experience, you need instinct and gut feeling to be a good gardener. Trust yourself.



What makes a perfect day for you?

In winter, a walk around the Stourhead lake followed by lunch and a pint at the Spread Eagle.

In summer, a wander around Gravetye Manor followed by lunch in the restaurant,  but I need to save up for that treat.



If you had one piece of advice to offer to someone what would it be?

Prune decisively or you’ll regret it.


Gnome or no-gnome?

No gnome for me but, if you like them, that’s fine.


 Planting for Butterflies by Jane Moore is published by Quadrille