Six on Saturday | The Nectar Bar

Flowers rich in nectar attract butterflies to the garden. They love sun and a sheltered spot and tubular flowers to get their long feeding tongues into. Here are six butterfly friendly flowers I have growing in my garden.

  1. Field Scabious  (Knautia arvensis) is a tall, hairy, grassland perennial with a flower like head of blue-violet flowers with pink anthers which you will see growing all around the coast here in Cornwall.  I grow the garden varieties including ‘Butterfly Blue’ and ‘Beaujolais Bonnets’ and a pure white one.
  2. Verbena bonariensis – in my case ‘Lollipop’ which is a dwarf cultivar with a height and spread of 60cm. Hidden from view by the Musk Mallow, now that I have cleared that out this plant is enjoying the freedom. I have yet to see a butterfly on it yet though.
  3. Echinops bannaticus ‘Blue Globe’. This is a member of the sunflower family with dense prickly foliage and stunning flowers. It produces a mass of bright blue thistle like globes carried on tall grey stems. The leaves on mine appear to have been badly attacked by a caterpillar of some kind, at least that is what all the ‘black poo’ indicates, but I have yet to see any caterpillar or even the dreaded sawfly. The flowers at least appear untouched.
  4. Eryginium “Alpinum Blue Star”. A dramatic hardy perennial also known as the Sea Holly. Large prickly cone-like centres surrounded by silvery blue spiny bracts on deep blue stems. It supposedly attracts butterflies, but mine seems to be covered in Green bottle flies and Common Red Soldier beetles which makes me wonder about the smell of this plant.
    Edit: I looked up this on Google and noticed that a lot of people have complained about the smell from ‘smelly feet’ to ‘cat poo’ or ‘faeces’. I decided to have a cautious sniff and yuk! It smells awful! It is away from the house, but even so I think this plant has to go. A shame because it is a stunning electric blue, but I have yet to see a butterfly on it.
  5. A type of ornamental onion, also known as round-headed leek, drumstick allium (Allium sphaerocephalon) is appreciated for the egg-shaped blooms that appear in early summer.  These unique flowers open green, then start to turn a purple/crimson colour from the top, creating unusual two-tone drumstick flower heads. Bees love it. The jury is out on butterflies.
  6. Hemp Agrimony ( Eupatorium cannabinum). Also known as ‘Raspberries and Cream’, Hemp-agrimony displays ‘frothy’ clusters of tiny, pink flowers on top of long, reddish stems in July and August. This is quite an invasive species and grows quite tall so last year I dug up quite a lot of it and I give the plant a Chelsea chop in May to reduce the height. Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral butterflies are particularly attracted to it.

    Red Admiral on Hemp Agrimony

My Nectar Bar is open, but with the exception of one or two Red Admirals, a Ringlet or two, one Comma and several Large Whites, my customers seem to have deserted me this year. Maybe they’ve found somewhere more interesting.

Other flowers for your nectar bar include: Sweet rocket, Asters, Buddleia, Lavender, Centranthus ruber, Japanese Meadowsweet/Spiraea japonica and Filipendula

As always, if you want a peek over other people’s garden walls then please pop over to our host, the lovely Jon, AKA ‘The Propagator’ where you find links to many more wonderful garden enthusiasts from all over the world.

See here for the participant’s guide.

Six on Saturday


  1. You have just reminded me of Beaujolais Bonnets! I used to grow it and loved it and somewhere it had fallen out of my head, now it is back where it belongs. Love your nectar bar, if I was a butterfly I would definitely pop in. Perhaps they will arrive soon?!

    1. Heyjude says:

      My Beaujolais Bonnets are not looking well, the stems are black in places and the flowers are teeny! I’m not happy with a lot of my plants this year 😞

  2. beetleypete says:

    A lovely selection, Jude. Shame about the ‘smelly’ plant though. It looks so nice too. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    1. Heyjude says:

      I have enough smells with the cattle next door without plants adding to it! I like planting fragrant plants to counteract the poo, not add to it!

  3. janesmudgeegarden says:

    It seems a shame to remove the Eryngium. I have had sooo much trouble growing them. I love the idea of a Nectar Bar. I’ve a number of theses plants growing ( or in the case of Eryngium, trying to) so hopefully butterflies will visit my garden too, when the weather warms up.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I may do a swap with the Eryngium and two roses I planted in the car park. That way I can see the roses and the Eryngium have a reprieve!

  4. One Man And His Garden Trowel says:

    I’m torn between getting the Echinops or the Eryginium for the front garden after reading this. Decisions, decisions.

    1. Heyjude says:

      The Echinops smells better…

      1. One Man And His Garden Trowel says:

        Good to know!

  5. fredgardener says:

    I love your words “The nectar bar is open” and it’s really appropriate. All bees and butterflies like to forage for this kind of flowers. You’ve reminded me of some varieties that I don’t have or no longer have, and your choices are very good. Thank you.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thanks Fred. I usually see more bees and butterflies than I have this year. The cold, wet June might be a cause? And August is turning out to be cool too so I am not hopeful ☹

  6. Lovely six. Particularly like the alliums with the older ones going over behind.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I have noticed that these alliums do not last long once they begin to open.

  7. When Mr P was giving me the guided tour of the estate, I noticed his Sea Holly (I wouldn’t dare write the proper name! I might spell it incorrectly!!) I did check its perfume since the only time I grew it, I noticed the awful smell. His was not the same variety and had no unpleasant smell! Interesting Six again.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Hmmm… I have read that some eryngium varieties (Miss Wilmott’s Ghost?) do not have that horrid stench so maybe that is what Jon has. And I am sure I spell names incorrectly all the time so feel free to throw an apple or two at me, I am a horrible person to mention Mr Fuchs 🥺

  8. Su Leslie says:

    Love your title and of course the images are beautiful. It’s a worry the bar isn’t busy; I hope that’s due to competition rather than an actual dearth of customers!
    Shame about the smelly plant — it does look really interesting.

    1. Heyjude says:

      The smelly plant will be moved next to the equally smelly oil tank! And the more fragrant roses will come into the garden. Now the only dilemma is when to make the move.

  9. Murtagh's Meadow says:

    What a lovely collection. I must try some of these for next year. I have a wild scabious in the meadow but should try some garden cultivars. I also like idea of dwarf verbena. I do have tall one which is doing nicely.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Although ‘Lollipop’ is supposedly ‘a compact form’ I still think it is tall! Especially in my windy garden!

  10. How is it that such a pretty flower has a name like scabious? The only thing attracting insects in our garden are Mr ET’s cabbages, which the cabbage moths adore.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Mr ET needs to plant nasturtiums around his cabbages so the butterflies will lay their eggs on those instead.

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