If you’d love to encourage wildlife to visit your garden but aren’t sure what plants to grow, this is the place for you. We asked some of our favourite wildlife gardening bloggers for their planting tips and here’s what they came up with – what to grow to encourage birds, bees, moths and butterflies to share your outside space.
Nocturnal insects love plants whose scent makes them easy to locate in the darkness. Wildlife blogger Dan Rouse says:
“Plants like lavender are great for attracting moths, which in turn will attract their predators: bats!
Nic who writes Dogwood Days was just a two-year-old in red wellies when her father introduced her to banks of rosebay willowherb alongside the vegetable beds. She says:
“Willowherb brings in moths and butterflies – especially the beautiful elephant hawk moth caterpillars with their extendable snouts.
Another favourite for attracting moths is honeysuckle. Bill at Frodsham Marsh Bird Blog says: “A large potted Honeysuckle is brilliant for attracting many types of moth species on those sultry warm summer evenings, and they in turn provide food for the local bats.”
Attracting butterflies to flutter about your garden is all about planting the right blooming plants whose nectar they’ll sup. Remember – the greater the variety of plants and fungi you grow in your garden, the great the range of butterflies, and other insects you’ll get to see.
Lisa at Edulis Wild Food says encouraging wildlife to thrive is all about “Mimicking nature in her timing and choice of habitat.” In her garden she grows:
“Alexanders, sweet cicely, japonica quince, wild raspberry, wild garlic, primroses, sweet violets, horse mushrooms, chicken of the woods, oyster mushrooms and scarlet elf cups.
Emma at Never Mind the Burdocks, meanwhile favours “ground elder, wild mints, and Galium species such as odorata which fill a borders edges perfectly and are easy to maintain.”
Providing myriad food sources is a great way to garden for wildlife, but if there’s a particular butterfly you’d like to see gracing your patch, often you’ll need to provide a specific food source. Dave at Why Watch Wildlife shares this example:
“A Brimstone is looking for Alder Buckthorn, so think about planting it. Not only will it benefit the butterfly, but in autumn birds will eat the berries too.
Birds and bees
As well as enjoying the host of tasty insects living on your wildflowers, birds need winter foodstuffs to keep them going when the nights draw in and the temperature plummets. To help out our feathered friends, Bill says he planted Cotoneaster. He says it’s quite mature now:
“In the winter it retains enough berries to entice the local Blackbirds, wintering Blackcaps and once a small flock of Waxwing to feast on its berries.
Bill says the bees and hoverflies love the alliums he buried last year, and Julie of Garden Without Doors is a great advocate of early wildflowers like: “forget-me-nots, green alkanet and deadnettle”. She says the great advantage of spring flowers is that they’re: “beloved by bees and available to them before other flowers start blooming.”
Worried that by filling your borders with spring wildflowers, you’ll have less blooms to enjoy during the summer months? Don’t be. Julie says:
“Your spring wildflowers will die back in time for other flowers to take over.
Do you have any wildlife-friendly planting suggestions to share? If so we’d love to hear from you. Just pop over to our Facebook page and leave us a message.
In the meantime, we’ll leave the last word to Alan at the Scottish Wildlife Garden who, once the butterflies have enjoyed his thistles, finds they “have delicious, tender, juicy hearts that are quite easy to prepare once you have the knack.” As he says, that’s one way to “Have your garden and eat it”.