We’ve lived in this little corner of Surrey for almost a year now and the garden is well overdue some big changes. It needs a lot more plants in it, and now that I’ve given up the allotment, I must have some vegetable beds, there’ll have to be quite a bit of drainage to deal with the excess water that’s loitering around.
The plant list is growing gradually as I add things and then remove half of them as completely unsuitable for the clay soil etc. So far, the list is made up of a mix of shrubs, climbers, herbaceous plants, herbs, annuals and bulbs so there’s plenty of variety, I’ll share it with you when it’s done.
I also want plants that pollinating insects will like. As you probably know, there’s been a decline in their habitat over recent years, add in the effects of global warming and the little creatures are struggling, and although each garden isn’t that big, added together they can make a sizeable contribution to food and habitats for insects.
Apart from this, the benefit for me is that their pollination will give me a good crop of fruit, flowers and vegetables.
Pollinating insects are obviously bees, but also butterflies, moths, beetles and hoverflies, these are the sort of plants that they like:
- Flowers with a nice, open structure so they can get into them easily, by all means have these big, ruffled dahlias, but have some simple, open shapes as well.
- Flowers for as much of the year as possible, this isn’t as difficult as it seems, ivy is perfect for winter as are bulbs like Crocus tommasinianus, they flower in my garden in January and February.
- Pollinating insects are put off by rain, so overhead watering is just like rain as far as they’re concerned. Better to water the soil at the base of plants, most plants prefer this as well.
- Pesticides take an indescriminent approach and kill everything, so the beneficial insect get wiped out too… another reason not to use them.
- If there’s a period during the year when there aren’t many flowers in your garden, have a look over the fence and see what’s growing in neighbouring gardens, take a trip to a nursery or visit a garden to see what’s flowering there.
- Shrubs, climbing plants and trees are good for pollinators too.
- Pollinating insects like a drink, a bird-bath will do if space is tight or you don’t want a pond.
- I’m not one for planting only native species, though it’s probably advisable to have plants mostly from the northern hemisphere, just because they’re more likely to survive. Don’t be too rigid about this though, I wouldn’t want to be without Verbena bonariensis or Dahlias, both originated in South America.
There are hundreds of gardens through the U.K. open under the National Garden Scheme, they’re great places to visit for ideas, check out their website here.
Happy gardening, Jill
all photos: Jill Anderson.