Bee and butterfly gardening
A garden humming with bees and shimmering with brilliantly-coloured butterflies is full of life and beauty, the insects adding another dimension to your planting and giving you yet another reason to enjoy your garden.
By encouraging bees and butterflies into your garden you're doing the planet a favour as well as your plants. Populations of both insects have been plummeting, a combination of disease, climate change and the lack of suitable pollen-rich flowers. It's important because their activities are responsible for around a third of the food we eat – so helping them out makes good sense all round.
Here are some easy things you can to at home and include the kids in too to attract bees and butterflies into your patch:
Make a bee & butterfly restaurant: Like all creatures, bees and butterflies need to eat and drink. If you have a water feature, give it a good clean and refill it with fresh water for them to enjoy. If not, then why not have a go at making your own out of up-cycled materials like old pots, saucers and pebbles? Place your water-feature near nectar-rich flowers like hollyhocks, geraniums, lavender, buddleja, sedum or flowering herbs for a busy bee and butterfly 'fly-through' restaurant!
Hang up a bee hotel: Solitary bees lay eggs in cavities in trees or wood; recreate the same habitat with a bee hotel hung on a sunny wall. Use an old plant pot filled with natural materials you can pick up whilst on a spring woodland walk.
Make a sunbathing platform: Butterflies adore a warm sunny spot, so give them somewhere to sunbathe by placing a wide flat stone in a sunny spot in your garden to absorb heat for them to enjoy. Why not get your children to decorate the stone first using paint and colours for a really funky sun trap?
Create a caterpillar cosy: Butterflies are only half the story: caterpillars need catering for, too! Create a patch of plants where caterpillars can lay their eggs and enjoy some food. Caterpillars prefer dark and woody areas so create this area by some shrubs and thick foliage, away from any bird feeders! Include plants such as clover, dogwood, milkweed and herbs like dill, fennel and parsley.
You'll find all you need in our garden centre to make your plot a haven for bees and butterflies. Here are some plants we recommend:
- Bee-friendly plants: Bees love plants with simple, open flowers so they can get at the nectar easily. Good choices include clematis, hollyhocks, geraniums, lavender and flowering herbs.
- Butterfly-friendly plants: The more nectar-rich your plants, the happier your butterflies. They'll flock to buddleja, sedum, red valerian, scabious, Michaelmas daisies and aubretia – so plant plenty in your garden.
Please ask the staff in our Radyr (Cardiff) and Wenvoe (The Vale) garden centre for more information and advice about attracting bees and butterflies to your garden.