image

National Insect Week: How to attract bees and butterflies to your garden

Wild pollinating insects like bees, butterflies and hoverflies have suffered drastic declines in recent decades, both in terms of numbers and biodiversity, according to Buglife, the Invertebrate Conservation Trust.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Bank holiday bee. #bees #allium #instagarden

A post shared by Hannah Stephenson (@hannah_stephensonpa) on

Many species have suffered such declines, the Trust warns they’re being pushed to extinction, due to a number of factors, including lack of space for wildlife in our countryside and in our towns and cities, and the use of pesticides.

So, there has never been a better time to fill your beds and borders with flowering plants and trees which are magnets to pollinating insects.

What size is your border?

If you have a narrow plot then use space vertically, perhaps with climbing shrubs – such as honeysuckle or passionflower – which bees and butterflies love.

In many gardens, borders are too narrow and beds too small, but plants can be scaled up or down simply by increasing or decreasing the number of each plant you put in. Just bear in mind how quickly and how large your plants will grow, as before you know it, just one flowering shrub could have taken over the whole area.

If you have room, the minimum width for a border should be around one metre, in which to grow a dwarf shrub and some smaller perennials. Group three or five of the same plant together in a cluster, and choose those which are in 9cm or one litre pots, which will give them space to fill out.

If you are wanting a layered effect of plants  in your border, you’ll need more space – a minimum of a 3m width and 1m depth, but ideally more.

Think of the colour

Soft pinks and mauves are easy on the eye

If you want deep pinks, blues and mauves, good combinations include sea holly (echinops), with echinacea and the light, airy Verbena bonariensis – which self-seeds prolifically – and all are a magnet for bees in summer.

Lavender, purple lupins, alliums and pink roses also combine well.

If you’re more of a hot colour type, preferring sizzling reds, bright yellows and burnt oranges, you may prefer rudbeckia and heleniums to brighten your border.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Seems we’re all busy bees in spring. Making the most of my #mahonia. Smells amazing. #garden #evergreen #shrubs

A post shared by Hannah Stephenson (@hannah_stephensonpa) on

When choosing your plants, opt for single-flowered types which are native, rather than hybrid and double-flowered varieties. And don’t forget shrubs which flower at different times of the year, such as the bright yellow mahonia, providing plenty of pollen for hungry bees in spring.

Front of the border

For an easy maintenance border, you can’t go wrong with cranesbill geraniums for both ground cover, colour and interest from insects. Geranium ‘Rozanne’ is a winner, with its open, mid-blue flowers, which go on from spring to autumn.

Cranesbill geraniums provide good ground cover and colour

Some catmint can be grown towards the front of the border, including including Nepeta x fassennii, which has an informal, sprawling habit, while heucheras provide excellent foliage contrast, ranging from deep purple to acid green. Their spikes of wispy flowers also attract bees.

If you want colour and insect interest into late summer, the ice plant, Sedum spectabile, provides a cool silver leaf and flowers in late summer and autumn.

Middle of the border

Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ provides a good upright specimen

There are so many mid-height plants to place in the middle of a border, from the lollipop-shaped alliums which can be dotted through a scheme, to rudbeckia, perennial salvia, sea holly, roses and thistle-like cirsium. This section will probably offer you the most choice.

Back of the border

Buddleias attract butterflies

Fast-growing flowering shrubs – such as buddleias and ceanothus – will provide nectar for butterflies and bees, while tall foxgloves and delphiniums and eupatoriums will add colour and form behind lower-growing plants, as well as interest for pollinators.

Are there rules to follow to attract pollinators?

According to Buglife, the key things to remember are that native plants are best, as well as close relatives to native plants, so many cottage garden varieties will fit the bill.

Herbs are also good – lavender, rosemary, marjoram, chives. Provide a range of plants that will supply nectar and pollen throughout the year, from early spring to late autumn.

Bees pollinate apple blossom

Don’t forget trees, if you have room. In the spring, pollinators will gather on the blossom of apples, pears, cherries, hawthorn and blackthorn.

Plants with different shaped flowers will provide a range of resources for different types of pollinating insects – some bumblebees favour deep flowers, which they can access with their long tongues, others require more shallow flowers, or blooms with big ‘landing pads’ like ox-eye daisies.

National Insect Week runs from June 22-28. For more information visit nationalinsectweek.co.uk.

The following two tabs change content below.

The Press Association

News from the Press Association - the national news agency for the UK and Ireland

Leave a Comment!

Not a member?

You need to be a member to interact with Silversurfers. Joining is free and simple to do. Click the button below to join today!

Click here if you have forgotten your password
viking
4 days ago
1
Thanks for voting!
I have noticed the lack of bees in the garden which seems to have been as previous years.
MrsPat
22nd Jun 2020
2
Thanks for voting!
What a lovely article. I read that German scientists are saying that 70% of insects are dying since 1970..worrying for the next generations.

Community Terms & Conditions

Content standards

These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.

You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.

Contributions must:

be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Nurturing a safe environment

Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.

We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!