I am typing this on my phone in the garden on a Friday evening, sitting in the sun, the washing drying on the line for the first time in ages. The sun feels good on my skin.
The pollinating insects know it too, they are out with the very fist ray. Yesterday I sent out August’s edition of my newsletter – The Green Gardening Newsletter – which features a Q&A with Maureen Little, author of The Little Book of Plants for Pollinators.
I will just share with you part of Maureen’s answer to one question because it really resonates with me – the rate of species extinction among pollinating insects is truly heartbreaking, so I asked her how she stays optimistic.
“It’s true that insect pollinators are in decline and have been for many years. This is due to a range of factors such as the use of pesticides, lack of habitat, climate change and so on.”
“However, the good news is that more and more people are alert to that fact and want to do something to help. It seems to me that gardeners can be, and are, at the forefront of this awareness and are all too willing to adjust their practices to accommodate pollinators. I sometimes think the saying ‘think globally, act locally’ was made for gardeners: we can all do something, however small, and together we can make a difference.”
The first Fritillary butterfly of the year appeared on my Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’.
Until this point I have seen very few butterflies in my garden apart from the Cabbage Whites. Have you noticed the same thing?
There are a great many plants that benefit pollinators in my garden, and one of them is Aconitum napellus. Highly poisonous for humans but not for bees!
The chartreuse splash is from Japanese forest grass Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’ which is truly happy with all our rain. Here it is with Geranium ‘Rozanne’ – another hit with bees.
Herbs are excellent plants for pollinators, and pretty good for us humans too. Flowering oregano contains 80% sugar in its nectar so that’s why all manner of bees go mad for it!
Weaving in amongst the leaves of the purple Cotinus is the hardy Fuchsia magellanica. A great garden shrub that looks delicate but is really tough. It flowers over a long period and that’s useful for pollinators, which can access the simple flowers – double blousy flowers are not much use for insects as the nectar and pollen are often inaccessible.
But it’s not just about including the right plants to help pollinators. It’s also about providing habitats. Our lawn is one such habitat – allowing an area grass to grow long attracts a huge array of insects, and ground beetles especially like the damper, safer habitat. We have just cut ours back as this is a good time to do so for regrowth before autumn and to allow wildflower seeds to germinate.
That was last Sunday and you can see how quickly it has regrown:
Earlier this summer:
Finally, leaving an area of your garden undisturbed is great for all kinds of wildlife, and insects especially will benefit if you add a log pile for shelter and hibernation. Here is one we made in our glade:
What’s proving a hit with pollinators in your garden? Do you garden with them in mind?
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Have a great weekend!