Sympathetic and thoughtful planting can, through a structured approach, create a haven for insects and wildlife. In this world where habitats are gradually being lost why not give over a portion of your garden to the birds and the bees and manage your own eco system.
Serves as a great interest and education for the kids – suggested plants are:-
Alyssum - Click to learn more
Alysum flowers in early summer with white or yellow flowers which are attractive to bees, moths, butterflies and hoverflies. The plant is also attractive to aphids which are then eaten by other insects and birds.
Seeds can be sown in containers during spring or autumn and then germinated in a cold frame, also shoot cuttings may be taken in early summer. Alysumm generally grows to around 15cm (6ins) x 50cm (20ins)
Candytuft - Click to learn more
Candytuft produces white, purple, red or pink, sometimes fragrant flowers, which are attractive to bees, butterflies and moths. The plant also attracts slugs, snails and caterpillars, all of which are eaten by a number of birds.
The seeds of annual varieties of Candytuft may be sown directly into the soil, but the perennials or sub-shrubs variety need to be sown in containers in autumn and kept in a cold frame. The plant generally grows to around 15cm (6ins) x 30cm (12ins), although some varieties grow to around 30cm (12ins) x 60cm (24ins).
Flowering tobacco - Click to learn more
Attracts a number of important insects, such as bees, butterflies and moths with it’s yellow, pink, red or pale green flowers which occur over a long summer period.
Flowering tobacco seeds are sown directly in mid-spring, and lost varieties will need to be staked when mature. The plant generally grows to 60 to 150cm (2 to 5ft) high x 30cm to 40cm (12ins to 16ins) spread, although there is an evergreen sub-shrub variety that may grow and spread 2.5 – 3m (8-10ft).
Sunflower - Click to learn more
With their large yellow flower heads they are attractive to bees, butterflies and hoverflies, with some of the annual varieties attracting birds which feed on the seeds.
The sunflower seeds can be sown in a cold frame in the spring, with annuals being able to be sown in cold frames in late winter, or directly in the spring. Sunflowers mostly grow in excess of 1.5m (5ft) but range from 40cm to 5m (16ins to15ft) x 1m to 1.2m (3 to 4ft).
Knapweeds - Click to learn more
Knapweed flowers are distinctly spherical or hemispherical with tubular or lobed florets. The flowers can be mauve, pink, yellows and blues, and are attractive to bees, butterflies, moths and hoverflies.
Annuals can be sown directly in the soil in spring, while the perennials may be sown under cover in a cold frame. They can be grown in borders, with some varieties growing well in grass. Some varieties may grow to 1.2m (4ft) tall, but generally 20 to 80cm (8 to 32ins) x 20 to 60cm (8 to 24ins).
Dog rose - Click to learn more
Dog rose flowers can be single or multi-petalled and grow in a vast array of colours including pinks, whites, reds and yellows. These attract a vast array of insects, especially aphids which are then fed upon buy birds and other insects. In the winter the red berries provide a food source for birds.
Dog rose generally grows to around 3m x 3m (10ft x 10ft), train stems to wire or trellis supports, and cut leading shoots to encourage greater branching. Tidying and general pruning can be carried out after the fruits have been eaten in late winter.
Honeysuckle - Click to learn more
Honeysuckle flowers are strongly scented and flower in a variety of colours including whites, yellows, reds, pinks and oranges. It attracts insects and birds who can nest in well established plants, also attracting aphids, which provide food for both birds and insects. The Autumn fruits provide food for thrushes, bullfinches and warblers.
To plant a honeysuckle, dig a hole larger than the rootball, about 30 cm from a fence or wall, and add compost. Fill with soil level to the top of the rootball, firm in and water well. Keeping the soil moist through the summer months. Most varieties should be pruned in late winter or early spring. They generally grow to around 2 to 7m (6 to 22ft) high.
Ivy - Click to learn more
Ivy doesn’t flower until mature and over 1m (3ft) tall, then flowering from late October onwards, producing nectar as late as December, and then producing purple-black fruits which song thrushes and blackbirds feed on.
Ivy is evergreen, so it provides food and shelter all year round, with a mature ivy covered wall providing potential shelter for wren and blackbird nests, as well as a number of hibernating creatures including butterflies.
Ivy easily grows from the laying of a young shoot into the ground, and once it has rooted it can be separated from it’s parent plant.
Coneaster - Click to learn more
Coneaster plants come in many different varieties, to suit the smallest to largest garden. Flowering in a small whitish-pink bloom, with red berries, although some varieties are yellow. Bees find the flowers highly attractive for their nectar, and birds find the berries a good source of food in the autumn and winter months.
Coneaster seeds can be sown in cold frames after ripening, or cuttings taken in the summer months. It requires very little maintenance, with light pruning later in late summer to make the berries more accessible to birds. Harder cutting back can help restore neglected plants.
Birch - Click to learn more
The Silver birch attracts over 500 species of invertebrate, with a number of birds being attracted to the trees seeds, and it’s bark and fresh leaves being equally attractive as a food source.
Holly - Click to learn more
Holly can be grown from seed, but germination is slow and can take up to 3 years, buying holly plants from a nursery/garden centre is often the best option. It provides good protection and shelter in the winter months for a range of insects, with the berries providing a good food source.
Rowan - Click to learn more
Rowan can be grown from seed, or cuttings, but it is generally best to buy either ‘whips’or smaller trees from a nursery/garden centre for quicker, effective results. Can grow up to 20m (70ft) high.
Rowan attracts blackbirds and starlings for it’s berries, and also the wide range of insects that are also attracted to the tree.