Bees and butterflies are in decline in the UK, but both insects are important to the gardener as they help to pollinate plants. By planting some of their favourite flowers you will help to bring more of these wonderful insects into your garden. In order to attract a number of bees and butterflies you should plant a range of flowers that bloom at different times, ideally from February to October. It doesn’t matter whether you have a large or small plot because even a small area planted with the right flowers will be beneficial to both insects. Plants to attract butterflies:
- Early flowers, such as aubretia and primroses, are particularly useful for feeding butterflies that come out of hibernation in spring
- During April and May, honesty and sweet rocket are good choices
- Lavender, red valerian and thyme are midsummer varieties and will attract many insects
- In autumn, michaelmas daisies, petunias and goldenrod can give butterflies a last chance to stock up with nectar before hibernating
- Buddleia, otherwise known as the butterfly bush, is great at attracting the insect throughout the summer months
- Nettles are another popular choice, particularly for Red Admirals and Peacock butterflies. If you plant the nettles in a pot it should prevent them from spreading and causing a nuisance
- Adult butterflies are dependent on nectar, but caterpillars prefer to eat plants, leaving an area of longer grass or wildflowers will provide food for them.
- Comfrey is a common wildflower and is loved by bees. It will grow in most areas, but prefers damp places
- Red and white clover is another good choice and is also popular with rare bee species as well as common ones. It is best planted in a border or meadow area
- Greater knapweed produces large purple flowers and attracts both bees and butterflies
- Some types of bumblebees have long tongues, which mean they are attracted to certain flowers, such as honeysuckle and foxgloves
- Lavender is another favourite for bees as they are attracted to its colour.
Hedgehogs are another best friend for gardeners because they eat common pests such as slugs and snails. Hedgehogs prefer to live in unspoilt areas. By leaving an area of your garden to grow wild will help to attract them as well as other wildlife. Planting a combination of evergreen shrubs and bushes will also provide year round shelter for hedgehogs. During winter they will build a nest in order to create somewhere to hibernate. The nests will usually be made in sheltered areas such as bonfires, compost heaps, log piles and sheds, which are positioned away from north winds. An alternative option is to provide a nesting box, which should help to encourage hedgehogs to stay in your garden. The boxes should be placed in a quiet spot, sheltered by ground cover plants. If you do have hedgehogs visiting your garden never use slug pellets on your property as these are highly toxic and could kill or harm a hedgehog. www.potterandrest.co.uk is an online garden centre, which aims to be the largest ‘true’ garden centre online with free expert advice available to gardeners via telephone and social media. For further details, please visit www.potterandrest.co.uk, call 01278 440500 or email [email protected].