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Alan Titchmarsh advises gardeners to plant nettles to create a paradise for wildlife

He’s full of the joys of sting! Alan Titchmarsh advises gardeners to plant nettles to create a paradise for wildlife

  • Alan Titchmarsh says garden space should be setting aside for stinging nettles 
  • The 71-year-old says they provide a safe space for butterfly species to lay eggs
  • He was speaking to Gardeners’ World about how gardening can change a person’s perspective on life

To most of us, they’re those irritating weeds we try to avoid getting stung by on a summer walk.

But to wildlife, nettles are paradise – and Alan Titchmarsh says we should be setting aside a plot for a clump in our gardens.

The hardy plants provide a safe space for multiple butterfly species to lay eggs, he revealed.

To wildlife, stinging nettles are paradise – and Alan Titchmarsh says we should be setting aside a plot for a clump in our gardens

‘Have a patch of nettles in a sunny spot to attract butterflies in search of egg-laying sites,’ he told Gardeners’ World magazine.

‘You may not love nettles, but red admirals, small tortoiseshells, peacocks and comma butterflies all lay their eggs on stinging nettle, and they prefer the plants to be in full sun.

‘There will be some years where you see no sign at all of caterpillars eating the foliage, but when the eggs are laid on the undersides of the leaf you will be safe in the knowledge that you have given sustenance to the caterpillars of these valued garden creatures.’

The stems and leaves of nettles are covered by barbed hair-like structures which contain chemicals that cause a stinging sensation and a rash when they come into contact with skin.

The stems and leaves of nettles are covered by barbed hair-like structures which contain chemicals that cause a stinging sensation and a rash when they come into contact with skin (stock photo)

The stems and leaves of nettles are covered by barbed hair-like structures which contain chemicals that cause a stinging sensation and a rash when they come into contact with skin (stock photo)

Dock leaves, which contain a natural antihistamine, are used to ease the symptoms.

Titchmarsh, 71, recently claimed gardening can change a person’s perspective on life.

He told Gardeners’ World: ‘I don’t deny there are frustrations, but gardening can free you – spiritually as well as nutritionally.

‘If you take the trouble to watch your garden grow – I mean really watch it, and learn from it – it can change your outlook on life.’

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