Pollinator Plants

Bees, birds and butterflies are reducing in numbers and whilst the cold weather is contributing to their reduction, there are so many things we can do to help increase their numbers.

Pollinator Plants

By growing more pollinator friendly plants, you can provide food for our pollinating insects. Simple right? However, not all flowers are pollinator friendly, so it is important to do your research. Sow half hardy annuals in early spring and move outside once the risk of frost has passed. You can sow hardy varieties directly in the garden from April.

What plants are pollinator friendly?

Plants for bees

There are 24 species of bumblebee living wild in the UK. They are easily recognised by their characteristic fluffy bodies. If you are encouraging bees into your garden then it is important to avoid using insecticides as these will kill helpful pollinating insects (including bees) as well as the target insects. It’s best to aim for a good variety of pollen rich flowers that have different flower shapes and a range of flowering periods from early spring to late summer. You can also view our guide on encouraging bees to your garden for more information.

Pollinator PlantsCosmos bipinnatus ‘Sonata Series Mixed’ – half hardy

An award winning variety in a superb mixture of colours. This beautiful dwarf Cosmos reaches a maximum height of 60cm (24”) making it perfectly proportioned for sunny borders and containers. Sow in March, April and May. Flowering period; July, August, September and October.

Pollinator PlantsCalendula officinalis ‘Neon’ – hardy annual

One of the most eye-catching varieties in our flower trials, with glowing orange, double flowers edged in burgundy. The edible flowers of Calendula ‘Neon’ add height and interest to annual borders, and make a stunning cut flower. Sow in March, April, May and August. Flowering period; June, July, August and September.

Plants for butterflies

Plant some suitable nectar plants for butterflies and they will visit your garden, however small it is. If you’re looking to create a container garden for butterflies there are many smaller nectar plants which are suitable for growing in containers and window boxes. Herbs left to flower such as Thyme, Oregano, Lavender and Mint are excellent plants to try. For more information on view our encouraging butterflies to your garden article.

Pollinator PlantsBuddleja ‘Buzz’™ Collection – Hardy shrub

A new twist on a much-loved garden favourite, ‘Buzz’™ is the world’s first patio buddleja! These attractive, compact plants are loved by bees and butterflies, but won’t take over your garden. Buddleja ‘Buzz’™ is easy to grow and problem-free with a super long-flowering period. Flowers June – October.

 

Pollinator PlantsVerbena bonariensis – Hardy perennial

Tightly clustered florets form glowing lavender flower heads that float atop stiffly upright, branching stems. The long lasting blooms of Verbena bonariensis attract clouds of bees and butterflies. In autumn, apply a dry mulch of bark chips or straw to protect the crown of the plant throughout the winter months. Flowering period; July – October.

 

For birds

Birds are among the most welcome garden visitors. Not only are they interesting to watch, they eat aphids, caterpillars, slugs and other grubs, keeping the pest population under control. Plants can be used to provide shelter or nesting sites for birds, protecting them from cats and other predators. Trees, shrubs and hedges are excellent ways to encourage birds into the garden and by choosing a few evergreens you will ensure there is shelter all year round. For more information including shelter, water and nest boxes take a look at our encouraging birds to your garden guide.

Pollinator PlantsLavender – Hardy shrub

Flaring petals from compact bracts crown slender stems. Very attractive bushes of aromatic grey/green foliage. Favoured by citizens of the Roman Empire for fragrance. Easy to grow and trouble free. Sow in March – October. Flowering period; May, June, July and August.

Pollinator PlantsCrab Apple ‘John Downie’ – Hardy Tree

One of the most popular crab apples for jelly making! Pink buds open to reveal pretty white cup shaped blossom in April and May, followed by large orange and red fruits in autumn.Crab apples are self fertile and if planted near orchard apple trees make excellent pollinators.

Terri Overett
Terri works in the e-commerce marketing department assisting the busy web team. Terri manages our blog and social media pages here at Thompson & Morgan and is dedicated to providing useful advice to our gardeners. Terri is new to gardening and keen to develop her horticultural knowledge.

Weekend project – making a bird bath

Inspired by a photo of a homemade bird bath I’d seen on Pinterest a while ago, I decided to put the pile of bricks at the side of my house to good use and make one myself!

We’re trying to be much more mindful of wildlife in our garden (I often refer to it as a wildlife garden, when in fact it’s just a bit untidy…) and this was the perfect project. It also had the added bonus of making me clear out a load of bits and bobs we’d kept hold of ‘just in case they come in handy’.

I started off by digging a small trench where the first layer of bricks was going to go. Our garden slopes a lot, so we chose the flattest, sturdiest spot, which also happens to be next to the buddleja that self-seeded from a neighbour’s garden and attracts dozens of bees and butterflies every year. After getting the first layer as level as I could, I set my daughter the task of choosing the best bricks in the pile – some were starting to crumble, some had lumps of mortar stuck to them – and giving them a quick brush. 8 layers later, it was ready for the bird bath to be added. My daughter put some pebbles into the bath itself for bees to land on – we’d read that bees are thirsty little creatures, but either need very shallow water or somewhere to land.

Weekend project - making a bird bath

It was really easy – it probably took us half an hour or so to make, so it’s the perfect project to do with children. Interesting and different enough for them to want to be involved, but not so difficult or time-consuming that they get bored.

We’re really pleased with the finished result, even though it is a tiny bit wonky. It goes very nicely in our ‘rough and ready’ garden, now all we’ve got to do is wait for the birds and bees. It could take a couple of weeks for worker bees to find it, so we’ll just have to be patient!

Weekend project - making a bird bath

Rebecca Tute
Rebecca works in the Marketing department as part of the busy web team, focusing on updating the UK news and blog pages and Thompson & Morgan’s international website. Rebecca enjoys gardening and learning about flowers and growing vegetables with her young daughter.

How to encourage bees into your garden

How to encourage bees into your garden

How to encourage bees into your garden

Sedum

Bees play a key role in pollinating many fruits and vegetables. 35 per cent of our diet depends on pollination of crops by bees! Bees are active between February and October and it is crucial they have enough food during this time to help them through the winter and early spring. By introducing a few spring, summer and autumn-flowering plants to your garden you will help to extend the foraging period.

To attract bees, you needn’t leave your garden to go wild – many cultivated garden plants are just as valuable to bees for food and shelter. If you only have a small garden or balcony why not try planting up a container with some bee-friendly plants? Lavender, skimmia, heliotrope, herbs, hardy geraniums, agastache, buddleja ‘Buzz’, single-flowered dahlias, single-flowered fuchsias, sedum and dwarf sunflowers are all suitable for a container and provide nectar and pollen for bees. Site your container or border in the sunniest position possible to make it more attractive to bees.

How to encourage bees into your garden

Hardy geranium ‘Rozanne’

Try making a ‘bee hotel’ for solitary bees to over-winter in, using hollow plant stems (such as bamboo canes) cut into piece about 10-20cm long. Tie 15-20 pieces of hollow stem together in a bundle and hang in a sunny but sheltered area such as the side of a shed or trellis.

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Top tips to encourage bees into your garden:

  • Choose single-flowered varieties of plants. Bees and can’t access double flowers for pollen and nectar. Flowers with petals that form long tunnels are also inaccessible to bees.
  • Leave some of your culinary herbs to flower – they are a rich food source for bees and will leave your garden buzzing on warm days!
  • Try not to spray your plants with insecticides as these will kill beneficial insects too. Be patient and the pests will often be eaten naturally by ladybirds, lacewings, spiders, small mammals and birds.
How to encourage bees into your garden

Cornflower

Other flowers to include in your bee garden:

Crocus
Muscari
Bergenia
Echinacea
Scabious
Cornflowers
Teasel
Eryngium

Rebecca Tute
Rebecca works in the Marketing department as part of the busy web team, focusing on updating the UK news and blog pages and Thompson & Morgan’s international website. Rebecca enjoys gardening and learning about flowers and growing vegetables with her young daughter.

Boost butterfly numbers with ‘Buzz’™

‘Save Our Butterflies’ Week 18th – 26th May

Buddleja Buzz Collection - help save the butterflies

Beautiful, scented, dwarf butterfly bushes perfect for small gardens

Last summer’s disastrous impact on our butterfly population has been widely reported in recent weeks. So what can we do about dwindling butterfly numbers in ‘Save Our Butterflies’ Week?

“Plant Buddleja ‘Buzz’™!” is the resounding response from Thompson & Morgan’s horticulturist Sue Sanderson. “Buddleja – or the ‘butterfly bush’ as it is often called – is well known as the plant that attracts the most different species of butterfly”.

Experts at the charity Butterfly Conservation warn that many species may be on the brink of extinction after the ‘washout summer’ of 2012. Even before last year’s unseasonably wet weather, butterfly numbers were on the decline. Butterfly Conservation is running a series of events across the UK from May 18th to the 26th encouraging people to keep an eye out for some of our most threatened and little-known butterflies, like the Green Hairstreak and the Wood White. We’re all keeping our fingers crossed for better weather this summer, but gardeners can help by planting butterfly-friendly plants, such as buddleja, in their gardens to provide the nectar that butterflies feed on.

Already a runaway success with T&M customers, Buddleja ‘Buzz’™ was specifically bred by Thompson & Morgan plant breeders to be a dwarf variety. Multi award-winning ‘Buzz’™ is quite unlike traditional buddleja plants which have a reputation for growing too tall and taking over the garden. Dwarf and compact, Buddleja ‘Buzz’™ still boasts all the qualities its larger cousins are famous for, such as the huge sprays of attractive flowers that are known to be a vital nectar source for butterflies. Plants are smothered in flowers all summer long and grow to just three feet (one metre) high. Thompson & Morgan is urging its customers to do their bit for butterfly conservation by planting Buddleja ‘Buzz’™ in their gardens. It is offering a 3 jumbo plug plant collection comprising 3 stunning colours from the ‘Buzz’™ range for just £12.99, saving £13.98 from the rrp. Perfectly proportioned for patio pots and smaller gardens, ‘Buzz’™ is very easy to grow, problem-free and has an impressively long flowering period.

Don’t forget to take part in the Big Butterfly Count in July – this important survey helps to keep track of butterfly numbers and is really easy to do. The website has a free butterfly chart that you can download and print out to help you log the butterflies you spot.

Rebecca Tute
Rebecca works in the Marketing department as part of the busy web team, focusing on updating the UK news and blog pages and Thompson & Morgan’s international website. Rebecca enjoys gardening and learning about flowers and growing vegetables with her young daughter.

Plants for Wildlife

Plants for wildlife

There are so many benefits to attracting wildlife into your garden. Apart from saving the decline of our native species, garden wildlife also acts as a natural pest control, preventing the need to spray harmful chemicals all over your garden. If you grow fruit and vegetables, you’ll need the help of bees to pollinate many of your crops. Contrary to popular belief wildlife gardens needn’t be messy! Well-maintained hedges and shrubs are perfect for nesting birds and insects, and a flowing herbaceous border will attract all sorts of beneficial insects to your garden. You could even create a container garden for wildlife with some of the plants listed below! Planting a wildlife garden couldn’t be easier; read on for more ideas on how to make a wildlife garden.

Plants for Wildlife

Single-flowered varieties are best for bees

Plants for bees

The number of bees in the UK is declining at an alarming rate, yet there are few explanations. It’s suggested that the decline in native and wild flower rich grassland could be a cause. Bees play a key role in pollinating many crops and some 35 per cent of our diet depends on pollination of crops by bees! Bees are active between February and October and it is crucial they have enough food during this time to help them through the winter and early spring. You can help by creating a wildlife garden and choosing a selection of the plants for bees listed below. For more information on how you can help bees take a look at our ‘Save the Bees’ article.

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Plants for Wildlife

Plants such as buddleja are ideal for attracing butterflies

Plants for butterflies

There are 58 species of butterfly native to the UK and many of these are under threat of extinction. Recent reports have shown, however, that recent conservation efforts have given some of our most threatened species a boost. You can do your bit to help the butterflies by planting nectar-rich flowers in your garden. Take a look at the list below for inspiration. For more information on helping butterflies take a look at our ‘Helping to conserve the UK’s butterflies’ page.

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Plants for Wildlife

Teasel is a valuable source of nectar for bees and butterflies, as well as attracting many seed-eating birds.

Plants for birds

Birds are welcome visitors to the garden and will eat aphids, caterpillars and slugs for you! You can attract birds into your garden by installing a bird bath and by putting out extra food throughout the harsh winter months. You can also grow a wide range of plants for birds, which produce berries, seeds or nuts at the end of the season. Plants can also be used to provide shelter or nesting sites for birds, protecting them from cats and other predators.

For more simple ideas on how you can attract wildlife to your garden take a look at our article about wildlife gardening.

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Top tips when planting for wildlife:

  • Choose single-flowered varieties of plants. Bees and butterflies can’t access double flowers for pollen and nectar.
  • Leave some of your culinary herbs to flower – they are a rich food source for bees and butterflies and will leave your garden buzzing on warm days!
  • Leave your autumn clear up until the spring. The dead remains of plants provide valuable shelter for over-wintering insects.
  • Try not to spray your plants with insecticides as these will kill beneficial insects too. Be patient and the pests will often be eaten naturally by ladybirds, lacewings, spiders, small mammals and birds.

Click here for a full list of plants to grow in your garden to create a haven for wildlife.

Rebecca Tute
Rebecca works in the Marketing department as part of the busy web team, focusing on updating the UK news and blog pages and Thompson & Morgan’s international website. Rebecca enjoys gardening and learning about flowers and growing vegetables with her young daughter.

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