Today I am back with a slightly different style of post – As it comes into summer I think that we all look at our gardens and think what we should do with them this year! I think that it is important to have both an aesthetically pleasing garden as having a wildlife friendly garden and today I am back with the very knowledgeable Debbie Jinks.
Debbie runs the Facebook Page ‘A Bit on the Wild Side’where she shares her passion for wildlife & nature. She also likes to dabble in growing her own produce and today she is here telling us how to make an insect friendly garden!
How to Make an Insect Friendly Garden
Bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects are getting more and more threatened in the ever changing environment they live in. Our world doesn’t do them any favours, the amount of countryside that has been devastated by overdevelopment and changes in agricultural practices has a big impact on their survival.
In this post I am going to outline some of the ways we can help them. If you have a patch of garden doing nothing donate it to your wildlife, even a tiny space will still help our insects.
Grow nectar rich plants.
Try and grow a wide variety of plants for the different seasons, spring to summer and autumn to winter, that way you can provide food for insects all year round. Here are a few favourites of some of our more well-known garden visitors.
- Bees – Cornflower, Lavender, Crocus and Foxgloves.
- Hoverflies – Cosmos, English Lavender, and Common Yarrow.
- Butterflies – Marjoram, Buddleia also known as the butterfly bush, Sweet William, and bluebell.
- Ladybirds – Marigold, Coriander, Sunflower and dill.
A lot of beneficial insects like the same kind of plant, so you can’t go wrong with a good variety. You can also find wildflower seed mixes especially for insects in most garden centres now. If you are really short of space you can grow a lot of the flowers in pots, or with a bit more room directly into the soil.
Choose a space that gets plenty of sunlight as most plants thrive on this.
- First dig the soil over to loosen it, then scatter a handful of seeds, covering them lightly with soil after this.
- Water in well, and leave them to it!
- The seedlings should appear within about a week and you can thin them out if they seem to get overcrowded as they grow, I must admit though, I just leave them all in as they seem to sort themselves out and it means more nectar for the insects.
Tip – I tend to use a small amount of compost to cover the seeds as it is fine and will have nutrients in to give them a head start.
When soft fruits are in flower they are great for insects. Good plants to grow are; Strawberries. Blackberries and raspberries as the flowers are nectar rich.
Leave your grass – it is a good idea to leave a long patch of grass in your wildlife garden as this will encourage naturally growing wildflowers such as clover to grow. The sweet tiny flowers are much loved by bees and look pretty too. I find some wildflowers just appear as bees, butterflies and other insects distribute the pollen when flying from plant to plant.
Tip – When deciding on which plants to put into your wildlife garden, if you are out and about, walking for example, or at your local garden centre, watch out for which plants beneficial insects prefer, then you can make your own choices.
Butterflies need the sun to warm up their bodies to give them energy, so placing a few flat stones in your wildlife garden for them is ideal.
When they land on them they open their wings, as they absorb the heat more effectively that way.
When it’s been raining you may have seen insects such as butterflies and bees landing on flowers and drinking from the droplets, so especially when the weather is warm and dry, put some water out for them in a shallow container, and put pebbles in the bottom so they have somewhere to land.
You can buy these online in garden centres and pet shops. They are good for insects to shelter in when the weather is bad and some types will lay their eggs in there or hibernate in the winter. You can also use some of the natural things in your garden such as hollow stems, leaf litter or a wood pile, as these are often used for hibernating insects such as ladybirds. Hollow bamboo canes are ideal too.
It is very rewarding to be able to help any kind of wildlife and providing your own little insect haven in your garden is one of many ways you can do this. Not only will it look colourful, provide you with plants you can use yourself, and smell glorious, it will also help us sustain our insect population as much as possible.
I hope you have found this helpful. You can get more tips and ideas by visiting my Facebook page ‘A Bit on the Wild Side’, and please get involved too.
A massive thank you to Debbie for guest posting about such an interesting topic. Her tips are practical and I cannot wait to get started. There will also be a second post coming up on tips for planting a herb garden!
As well as her Facebook page Debbie also blogs at ‘Anosmia – My World‘ – her blog is about her life without a sense of smell and taste. She lost her sense of smell and taste following a head injury in February 2015. The condition is called Anosmia and it is uncommon and little understood. Taste and smell are something you take for granted and you don’t realise what an integral part of your life these senses are until they’re taken away and this has had a devastating effect on her day to day life. Her blog is a way of expressing her loss, an outlet for her sadness and anger but also a way of educating other people about Anosmia and reaching out to other sufferers. It is a very interesting site about a subject that I know that I was not fully aware of – you can read it here.