Some of the best butterfly sites in Britain are owned by the National Trust, in many cases providing a last refuge for species struggling in the face of climate change and habitat loss. National Trust gardens are great places to see butterflies, especially from July to September.
Matthew Oates, who has studied butterflies for over 40 years, says, "Butterflies are one of our most enduring symbols of summer, and they are important indicators of the health of our environment and of the ways in which climate change is impacting it.
"We've chosen ten of the best National Trust gardens where the grace and beauty of butterflies during their brief but colourful lives can be enjoyed by everyone."
Scroll down to see our gallery of some of the butterflies you can see see at these National Trust properties.
Matthew's top ten National Trust gardens to see British butterflies
Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire - One of the best places for butterflies in Cambridgeshire, with large areas of natural grassland. Common Blue, Brown Argus, Small Copper, Small Skipper, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Ringlet and Speckled Wood all breed in the grassland. Standard garden butterflies occur in numbers, such as the Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock. July and August are the best months to see the grassland butterflies (Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Small Skipper etc) in flight; and the Small Copper and Common Blue are at their peak.
Barrington Court in Somerset - Excellent for late summer butterflies, with buddleias, Michaelmas daisies and Hemp Agrimony. The organic kitchen garden is great for Cabbage Whites and all the usual late summer butterflies are plentiful. Red Admiral, Commas and Small Coppers feed on rotting fruit. A Long-tailed Blue was seen here in 1996. The best time to see butterflies here is August and September.
Coleton Fishacre Garden in Devon - The definitive wildlife garden, in a sheltered combe on the Devon coast near Dartmouth. This garden is seriously good for butterflies in August and September: migrant Clouded Yellow, Red Admiral and Painted Lady are frequent, Common Blue and Marbled White breed in the grassland, Wall Brown patrols the banks, and the common butterflies are everywhere. Essential visiting. Rare vagrant butterflies such as the Monarch can appear here.
Cragside in Northumberland - An excellent butterfly site, with plenty of nectar and shelter. All the standard garden butterflies occur, along with breeding populations of Common Blue, Small Copper, Orange Tip, Green-veined White, Ringlet, Wall Brown and Small Skipper. This garden is at its best for butterflies in July and August. Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary wanders in from time to time in June. Also good for day-flying moths, including Chimney Sweeper (July) and Silver Y.
Greenway in Devon - Agatha Christie's family collected butterflies and moths here. Good for migrants like Clouded Yellow, Painted Lady and Red Admiral in high summer. Silver-washed Fritillary visits in July and August, and the rare day-flying Jersey Tiger moth is regularly seen in August.
Mottisfont in Hampshire - Everything imaginable turns up here as the Romsey area is excellent for butterflies. Purple Hairstreak and Holly Blue breed in the garden, and July woodland butterflies like Silver-washed Fritillary and White Admiral wander in regularly.
Sissinghurst in Kent - One of the best gardens in the world, and also seriously good for butterflies and dragonflies. Grassland butterflies like Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown breed in the surrounding paddocks and wander into the garden for nectar and shelter during July and August, and woodland butterflies like Speckled Wood, White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary bumble in from the nearby woods.
Sizergh in Cumbria - Situated in one of the best areas in Britain for fritillaries, attracting in Pearl-bordered Fritillary (May), Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (June), Dark-green Fritillary and even High Brown Fritillary (both July) on occasion. The standard garden butterflies are also frequent, along with Common Blue.
Tyntesfield in Somerset - Brown Argus breeds on Common Rockrose and Common Blue on Birdsfoot Trefoil in the lawns, both fly in June and August. In July, Marbled White and Ringlet are regularly seen, along with the common nettle- feeding and garden butterflies.
Upton House in Warwickshire - The terrace gardens have many good butterfly nectar plants - buddleias and many types of Aster - and are great for late summer butterflies. Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Red Admiral and Painted Lady are all frequent, along with occasional Hummingbird Hawk moth. Small Copper breeds on sheep's sorrel in the flower beds. The kitchen garden is organic and great for Cabbage Whites! White Admiral was seen in the garden in 2006. A great August butterfly garden.
To find out more about these National Trust gardens and how to get there visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk or call 0870 458 4000.
The National Trust works closely with the charity Butterfly Conservation. More information about their important work and the events across the UK can be found at www.butterfly-conservation.org
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Take a look at our gallery of British butterflies below
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