Coumn: The beauty of our back lanes

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Gardeners are always exhorted to leave a small patch of wilderness in the garden for wildlife – an area at the back where the nettles and dandelions can run rife.

However, in reality many of us have limited space and even leaving a small patch to go wild is not an inviting option; if my plot is small, I want to use every inch to grow the things I like!

This is where back lanes come in.

Many of the old, pre-first world war houses in areas such as Giffnock, Newlands and Shawlands have a network of back lanes separating them. These can be havens for the kinds of plants you would yank up from the garden.

In my immediate back lane alone there are nettles, clover, dock weeds, rosebay willowherb, buddleia, wild geranium and thistles.

Provided there is sufficient space for vehicles to get up the lane, then it’s nice to leave the edges to do their own thing.

One sunny afternoon some years ago I happened to be in the back lane when I noticed that the wild buddleia was covered in Small Tortoiseshell butterflies.

It was also in the back lane where I saw my first Small Copper butterfly.

Excited, I ran back to the house to get my camera.

As I crouched down to get the perfect shot, a bin man rumbled loudly past, dragging a bin in each hand.

The Small Copper took flight and the photo opportunity was lost.

Fast forward to this summer and I saw my second Small Copper – this time on a small patch of lavender in a car park in the lovely town of Stonehaven (I managed to photograph it this time).

Interesting wildlife can turn up in the most unexpected places, you just have to pay attention.