Why the Birds and the Bees are Important

by Bethany Day on July 26, 2013

One theme that prevailed at this year’s RHS Flower Show Tatton Park was the need to sustain wildlife in our gardens.

Britain’s birds, bees and butterflies were championed at the show with many gardens demonstrating how to attract and support these vital garden visitors.

Over the past 50 years many groups of British insects have been in decline, including some of the most common butterflies, moths, hoverflies and bees. This then has a knock on effect further up the food chain, effecting many birds and other insect-predators.

Part of the problem may be the reduction in the abundance of wildflowers which once blanketed the countryside. With the loss of traditional sources of food, gardens are increasingly being recognised as an important habitat where insects can find sources of nectar and pollen throughout the year.

RHS Chief Advisor, Guy Barter, told us: “Gardens are a massively important refuge for wildlife and we know that what we grow in our individual gardens and how we manage them can have a big impact on pollinating insects.”

Many designers at the show this year explored ways to support wildlife through garden design.

‘The Bee’s Garden’ by 23 year old designer Florian Degroise, is an attractive contemporary space with many ecological features, including a beehive and bee-friendly plants at its core and one top tip from the designer is to try to incorporate a mixture of trees and shrubs in your garden to provide both food and shelter for wildlife.

Also intended as a refuge for insects, the ‘Greenco Sense’ garden, designed by Chris James, attempts to bridge the gap between man and nature. Planting is used to soften a contemporary structure, with meadow planting swaying across a terrace.

If you want to do your bit for nature, here’s some handy tips from Guy as to how to attract more wildlife to your garden:

  • Add water. A pool of water, no matter how small, is one of the best ways to encourage wildlife into your garden. Try a large pot or inverted dustbin lid for starters.
  • Leave a pile of dead wood in a shady spot to provide a habitat for many specialist insects, such as stag and bark beetles, which are growing increasingly rare in the countryside. This in turn will attract many a bird to you garden.
  • Don’t be too tidy. This doesn’t mean your garden has to look a mess, but piles of leaves and twiggy debris will provide both food and habitat for many species. Piles of stones also make a good habitat for hibernating reptiles and amphibians.
  • Plant wildflowers. If you don’t have room for a full-blown meadow, simply allowing patches of lawn to grow longer will provide shelter for small mammals and food for some butterfly caterpillars.

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Bethany Day

Blogger and online PR guru for Interflora UK. Interested in guest-posting on our blog? Email blog@interflora.co.uk or connect with me.

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