Very few people are neutral when it comes to certain native plants, (or weeds as they are often known as), especially the more robust and common types such as Dandelions and Thistles and I certainly don’t want them in my vegetable or flower beds. However they along with a few other native plants form the most important natural source of nutrition for many of our butterflies, bees, hoverflies and other flying insects growing as they do in a vast range of different habitats and are worth a second thought before trying to chop them down or poison them at every opportunity as is sadly the case in an increasingly tidy and over managed landscape here in France.
Click on pictures to enlarge.
Of course I don’t expect for one minute that anyone will suddenly think “Oh, I must grow some thistles or sow a dandelion patch” especially if they live in an urban environment or in very close proximity to their neighbours but I would like to encourage anyone with some land or with larger gardens to leave a few thistles and to perhaps let dandelions flower for a while just to see for themselves just how beneficial they are and how many different creatures use them.
I also leave the seed heads to stand on all the plants in our fields which provide food for seed eating insects and birds throughout the autumn and winter months as well as providing a depth of ground cover for the birds that require it.
With this in mind I've compiled a simple web page with some photos of thistles and insects that have been mainly taken on our land. CLICK HERE