She’s banged the drum for the Gurkhas, she’s the ambassador for an initiative to combat climate change and waste – but most recently, actress and keen gardener Joanna Lumley has turned her attentions to the plight of the humble butterfly.
Backing this year’s Big Butterfly Count, the world’s biggest survey of butterflies organised by Butterfly Conservation and Marks & Spencer, Lumley explains: “I’ve been fascinated by butterflies ever since being brought up in the Far East where they were, like many things there, huge, bright and extraordinary.
“The great heartbreak is to see how few there are today.
“This huge, scientific survey is actually counting the effect of mankind upon the natural world.”
The public is being asked to take 15 minutes to participate in the count, which runs from July 20 to August 11 (prime time for butterfly activity), to help identify trends in species that will aid us in planning how to protect butterflies from extinction, as well as understanding the effect of climate change on wildlife.
Butterflies react very quickly to change in their environment which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators. Butterfly declines are an early warning for other wildlife losses.
Lumley, who is also the M&S sustainability champion, has planted many butterfly-friendly species in her garden.
She’ll be doing two butterfly counts – one at her London garden, the other in her Scottish retreat – and hopes that she’ll have more luck during the three-week count than she has so far.
The Butterfly Conservation offers the following tips to attract butterflies to your garden:
1: Prolong flowering by deadheading regularly.
2: Don’t use insecticides and pesticides.
3: Grow plants which will attract butterflies including buddleia, verbena bonariensis, lavender and herbs.
4: Information: Big Butterfly Count takes place from July 20 to August 11. For details go to www.bigbutterflycount.org