Attracting birds and bees to your garden makes it a summer wonderland. Vibe’s resident horticulturalist, George Long from Sydenham, has some tips.
By using the right plants we can attract many forms of wildlife to our gardens not only providing interest for us but also being beneficial to the natural food chain.
Flowers attract insects to feed on their nectar which in return spreads the plant’s pollen to other plants in that species.
Once fertilized plants can self-seed but others need a little assistance. Many flowers will turn into fruits and berries so birds and mammals are invited to eat the fruit, ingest seeds and distribute them via their droppings.
Other plants have fruit or nuts that require an animal to open it to let the seeds or nuts fall out, carry them on their fur to a new site or bury them.
Birds see more in red and yellow which is why many berries are those colours.
In countries where birds feed from flowers many native species are also red or yellow to attract nectar feeding avian species like Hummingbirds.
Birds love small berries like; Cotoneaster, Berberis, Pyracantha, Sorbus (Rowan), Crataegus (Hawthorn) as well as most of your small fruits like Raspberries and Redcurrants if given half a chance so cover your crops.
Bees see more in blues and purples and according to research bees see yellow flowers as blue too.
They are not restricted to this colour spectrum but gravitate towards them first.
Lavender, Nepeta, Penstemon, Escallonia and Allium are all great bee attractors.
Butterflies prefer more open flowers as unlike bees they can't crawl into bell-shaped ones so Buddleia, Lilac, Red Valerian (although it can self-seed quickly in a garden), Verbena bonariensis and Scabiosa are perfect for them.
If you’re a fan of Stag Beetles then old log piles in corners are great homes for them.
They have been in decline over the years but by offering them ideal habitats they will potentially come. If only we could send slugs and snails packing.
It’s no good attracting bees and butterflies in the summer if the flowers die so please, please, PLEASE water your plants.
Leaky water pipe systems can save you time and are relatively inexpensive if you have an outdoor tap. If you want to go one step further you can get easy to install systems with timers from most garden centres and DIY stores.
Seasonal tips for July/August
• Water young plants well.
• Dead head flowers to prolong display.
• Prune early summer flowering shrubs.
• Mow lawns regularly.
• Leave water out for birds.
• Consider who will look after any garden requirements should you be going on holiday.