Posted on 15 Comments

a wildlife review of 2018

img 6475 a wildlife review of 2018

img 6005 a wildlife review of 2018

I have always so loved seeing wildlife around both within the garden and outside in. This love has been there since childhood, where I spent hours watching blackbirds nesting within the hedges that surrounded our house, spending ages within rock pools, seeing what would crawl out of the woodwork.

Even during the times I was fishing, watching wildlife was always part of that, the enjoyment of watching a kingfisher landing on the rod tip, only 10ft away at times was as pleasurable as seeing a big fish in the net. Of course, fishing depends of wildlife from feeding the fish and to the fish themselves, so gaining that information of what is going on, was a great learning curve

img 5944 e1546589814875 683x1024 a wildlife review of 2018

My aim in 2018 was to spend more time seeing wildlife and listing what I had seen. Part of the reason behind it was to try and help control my depression and anxiety. This had started to vear its ugly head over the past year or so and I needed something to focus on other than work and family and this was idea. It brought me a lot of enjoyment during the year despite it being my worst year mental health wise I have had for many years well at least 10 anyway.

img 6475 a wildlife review of 2018

I always need something to aim for in what ever I am doing, so I set my self a few targets, one was to see 200 species of birds, 20sp of butterflies, 10sp of damsels and dragonflies and 15 sp of bees. Quite tough aims but could of been achievable but in the end I failed to achieve those goals for them all apart from the butterflies, where I scrapped in with 20! Do I care? Nah not at all, it was a little bit of fun that got me looking more into the beauty of what’s surrounding us and looking out for small things within the garden and whilst out walking in the wild and towns.

 a wildlife review of 2018

My highlights have been seeing so many birds for the first time, some I have wanted to see for many many years. Within minutes of driving though France, I spotted a large group of Avocets just feeding on a low reservoir, a bird I had wanted to see since my boyhood. Next highlight was a brief one but just stunning, watching a Hobby chasing a swallow, seeing both birds twisting and turning within the evening sky, like two aircraft in a dog fight. Seeing a large group of Black Tailed Godwits, sat there within 12m of me . Memories that will last with me for years

Butterflies indeed were the only group I managed to see all I aimed to see. The only new one happened to be a 5 second view but what a view! a Purple Emperor landed within a metre from me for a few seconds before flying off again. One of our biggest butterflies and one of the most stunning. I felt so lucky just to see it

img 3998 a wildlife review of 2018

Well I am going to do the same this year and just have fun, This year I am going to try for 200 birds again, 25 buffer flies, 20 bees, 10 dragonflies and Damsels flies and 10 different uk Orchids, another childhood favourite! I hope I will get there but if I don’t, well it doesn’t matter, just as long as I enjoy it! I hope you will enjoy my journey too

img 5642 a wildlife review of 2018

Posted on 21 Comments

Six on Saturday, 7th of April, 2018

img 0735 Six on Saturday, 7th of April, 2018

Well well well it had to happen, yes we had not one but two and I repeat it two, dry days oh my word!so nice not to get into the house each night as a sodden mess, wet clothes in the armfuls, filling up the house with um a pleasant soily damp smell that’s further enhanced by the following evening when the next load comes in, well I think it is pleasant, my partner will no doubt disagree!

In all seriousness, it has been wonderful to see the sun and the sun has brought out the flowers around the garden. It’s starting to have that spring feeling at last. Last year one of my roses was half open, this year, it’s only just broken into leaf this year and that says a lot doesn’t. But never mind, Mother Nature has a way of catching up with things and I dare say we will be getting a warm dry spell at sometime in the near future.

This weeks six on Saturday comes from my clients gardens. My garden is being rather stubborn and isn’t producing me with any plants of interest and I haven’t had time to do anything in there yet and that’s the keyword yet!

img 2485 Six on Saturday, 7th of April, 2018

I couldn’t resist this photo of Aesculus hippocastrum or horse chestnut of its leaves slowly unfurling, looks to me like it’s shading its eyes from the incoming big yellow ball that it’s not seen for a while or it’s waving to the sun saying hello. Ok ok bear with bear with its been a long cold winter…..

img 2481 Six on Saturday, 7th of April, 2018

Ahh another Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicle’ now I do love ribes and the white form of the red flowering currant is another I look forward to in the spring months and here it is in the sun looking beautiful

img 2482 Six on Saturday, 7th of April, 2018

Euphorbia myrsinites was the first of this huge family I learnt as a young boy and still is a favourite of mine, I love the foliage effect as well as the acidic yellow flowers

img 2475 Six on Saturday, 7th of April, 2018

Ahh magnolias, once someone told me it was better to be late than to never arrive! Magnolias are living up to this saying this year. The cold spring has certainly put them back and it’s wonderful to see them flowering around the gardens once more, really makes me think spring is here! Oh before I forget it’s a magnolia stellata not sure on form, it’s under investigation, now where’s my magnolia book!

img 2483 2 Six on Saturday, 7th of April, 2018

The stinking hellebores look so majestic at this time of the year, helleborus foetidus is it’s botanical name, loves a bit of shade but again I love the green flowers, dipped in a little bit of purple around the edges

img 2490 Six on Saturday, 7th of April, 2018

Full apologies for the crap photo, the little bugger wouldn’t say still! I have a feeling this comma didn’t want to appear on six on Saturday, bad form I say, bad form. Seriously it was wonderful to see the sun brining out the butterflies. I saw so many brimstones (they didn’t want to be photographed either!) fluttering around the gardens and also one peacock and this one battered comma!

I hope you enjoyed my 6 on Saturday from my clients garden, If you did please checkout other people’s 6 on the memes founder website I love seeing other people’s plants and what’s happening in their gardens. Why not give it ago yourself next week and give me a shout so I can take a look

Until next week, have fun in the garden

Posted on 3 Comments

Watching Nature

img 3672 Watching Nature

img 3672 Watching Nature

I think being a gardener makes you more in tune with nature and let’s be honest we are! We spend time nurturing plants and soils in our own little Eden, whether it’s paid for a client or for our own pleasure. It’s not just for us or the bank manager we do this work for but also the wildlife that supports and uses this area for food, not always to our pleasure, I may add.

I suppose I did start gardening before getting very interested in wildlife, I say suppose, as I was only 4 before started gardening and not long after getting into wildlife and loved to spending time wandering around the countryside seeing what birds were flying around, the butterflies dancing in the bushes and the mammals trying to avoid our eye contact as they dart around.

brimstone Watching Nature

Over the past few years I have started getting back into my wildlife, spending time watching them during my working day and when driving around and this has led me to start listing them, and this year I thought I would share what I see with you all. I am very lucky that I work in a very varied areas from the South Downs to the new forest and a few trips towards the sea and I cover quite a lot in a working week and I hope this will bring me a wide diversity of wildlife.

img 5168 Watching Nature

I have got little spreadsheets made up to record what I see during the year and I am going to take part in the #My200Birdyear challenge started and hosted by Bird watching magazine and it’s basically trying to see 200 different birds in a year. I am going to run my list from January as I had already written down what I have seen already. I also take part in the great bee and butterfly count and love seeing them. Adding in dragonflies and damsels for this time as its a group of insects I would love to learn more about and this would be a great chance

So anywhere here’s where I am at in the 4 areas at the moment.

My bird list

  1. Redwing
  2. Pheasant
  3. Jackdaw
  4. Wigeon
  5. Mistle thrush
  6. French partridge
  7. Raven
  8. Common teal
  9. Song thrush
  10. English partridge
  11. Heron
  12. Shoveler
  13. Field fare
  14. Wood pigeon
  15. Little egret
  16. Gadwell
  17. Blackbird
  18. Collard dove
  19. Large egret
  20. Robin
  21. Wren
  22. Kingfisher
  23. Blue tit
  24. Mallard duck
  25. Moorhen
  26. Great tit
  27. Lapwings
  28. Coot
  29. Long tailed tit
  30. Grey wagtail
  31. Canada goose
  32. Coal tit
  33. Pied wagtail
  34. Kesteral
  35. Gold crest
  36. Mute swan
  37. Red kite
  38. Chaffinch
  39. Cormorant
  40. Buzzard
  41. Bull finch
  42. Green parakeets
  43. Sparrowhawk
  44. Green finch
  45. Skylark
  46. Peregrine falcon
  47. Gold finch
  48. Great backed gull
  49. House sparrow
  50. Starling
  51. Jay
  52. Dunnock
  53. Black headed gull
  54. Tufted duck
  55. Tree creeper
  56. Herring gull
  57. Great crested grebe
  58. Nuthatch
  59. Magpie
  60. Ostercatcher
  61. Green woodpecker
  62. Rook
  63. Common poachard
  64. Great spotted woodpecker


  1. Early bumblebee (Bombus pratorum)
  2. Red tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidaries)


  1. Red Admiral
  2. Brimstone

So if you feel inspired, I would love you to join in and see what you can see as well

Posted on 18 Comments

Six on Saturday: 17.02.2018

img 2083 Six on Saturday: 17.02.2018

February is disappearing rather fast now with only one more Saturday left before we hit March. The mornings are certainly much lighter and as for the evenings,it’s almost light until 6pm now. Another month and the clocks will change and spring forward, at last we will be able to do a little more in the garden at home after finishing work. I still can’t believe the amount of rain we had, everywhere seems so water logged and it’s a surprise for us this Saturday, it’s the first one in 6weeks when I shouldn’t be raining, that is going to be so nice indeed.

Well it’s confession time, I was planning to do a six from a clients garden this week but I got caught up in the rose pruning so umm I didn’t get around to it sadly, so somehow I managed to get another six from my own garden, helped with a bit of sun I may add!

img 2075 Six on Saturday: 17.02.2018

Primroses to me signal the start of spring and even though this is a large flowering hybrid, it just looks full of promise and very delightful as well

img 2070 Six on Saturday: 17.02.2018

Ahh yes there will be a couple of snowdrops I think this one is called Sibbertorf white and it’s one of the pure white forms with only a tiny bit of green on the flower

img 2074 Six on Saturday: 17.02.2018

And then there’s Rosemary Burnham, one of my all time favourites, I love theses forms with green veining on the petals

img 2073 Six on Saturday: 17.02.2018

My paper white daffodils are nearly flowering, a tad earlier that I planned as they are under planted with some crocus, that Um where supposed to come up first and the paperwhites in end of April, oh well that’s gardening!

img 2078 Six on Saturday: 17.02.2018

My prostrate rosemary is just starting to flower once more I love having this in an old chimney pot, I think it really enhances the flowers and foliage,

img 2083 Six on Saturday: 17.02.2018

My beautiful Edgeworthii is now open and in full flower, the courtyard garden is filled with its stunning scent but it was totally amazing to see my first butterfly of 2018, a red admiral, land on it and feed on its nectar. Wow took my breathe way!

I hope you enjoyed my 6 on Saturday from My garden. If you did please checkout other people’s 6 on the memes founder website I love seeing other people’s plants and what’s happening in their gardens. Why not give it ago yourself next week and give me a shout so I can take a look

Until next week, have fun in the garden

Posted on 1 Comment

Plant of the week- Centaurea macrocephala

img 1765 Plant of the week  Centaurea macrocephala

img 1765 Plant of the week  Centaurea macrocephalaThis is my second plant of the week looking at plants that attract butterflies into the garden and this week it’s time for knapweed but not any old knapweed, this is the giant knapweed or Aremanian basket flower as it’s sometimes called. Knapweed are a great plant to use to attract butterflies into the garden and range from our own native Centaurea nigra, a plant that’s well loved by all insects to this giant form, that’s not often seen in our gardens. The seed heads are also favourited by birds like goldfinches in the winter, who love the seeds
centaurea macrocephala 2 Plant of the week  Centaurea macrocephala
It’s a native of Caucasus region of Europe where tends to grow on the subalpine meadows at around 2000-2300m above sea level. It was introduced into the uk about 200yrs ago and has been used in our gardens ever since. It prefers a nice damp soil in a sunny spot in the borders, will take a little bit of shade as well. It is a difficult plant to use in gardens due to its height but as well as it’s attraction to butterflies it is also a tough plant and is disliked by both rabbits and deer, that makes it’s rather useful when they are a pain in the garden.
It has uses out of the garden too and makes a great cutflower both fresh from the garden and also dried. They can be easily dried by cutting a newly opened flower and hanging up for 4-5 weeks in a dry shed.
The name is also a brilliant one, Centaurea comes from Centuar Chiron, he cured a wound from a arrow dipped into Hydra’s blood by covering it with the flowers from the plant. Macrocephala comes from the Greek words, markos meaning large and kephale meaning head, so we have large head.
It does take a few years to get established, but once it gets going, it forms a good clump up to 1ft wide with the plant growing up to 5ft tall. It is pretty easy to grow both from seed and also by dividing in the spring.
It really is a beautiful plant, one that should be grown much more in our gardens.
centaurea macrocephala Plant of the week  Centaurea macrocephala

Posted on 2 Comments

Plant of the week- Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’ 

img 0204 Plant of the week  Buddleja davidii Black Knight 

img 5180 Plant of the week  Buddleja davidii Black Knight 
Well after a few weeks break with the Rose of the week, we are back to the plant of the week but with a slight difference. For the next month it’s The Butterfly count. This is carried out each year by the Butterfly conservation to monitor the more common types of butterflies we see in our gardens. So to celebrate this, for the next month I will be focusing on plants that are looking great at this time of year but also attract in butterflies. To start this off, it has to be the Butterfly Bush, Buddleja. There are so many great forms of great plant (check back in a few weeks for a more indepth look) but I have chosen my favourite form and also one of the darkest forms of Buddleja, Black Knight. 

img 0201 Plant of the week  Buddleja davidii Black Knight 
Buddleja davidii is a native of Central and west China, were it grows up to 8000ft above seas level, where it can grow in some  pretty poor soils, hence the reason it selfseeds and grows in any space in the uk, whether it’s a bit of waste ground, roof top or sides of a quarry. Sadly this ability has labelled it as a invasive plant. It was introduced into Europe by the French missionary Father David (hence davidii) from east Tibet in 1869. Buddleja itself was named of the British amateur Reverend Adam Buddleja by Von Linne in 1737. The form ‘Black Knight’ was bred by the famous Moerheim nursery in Holland by Ruys. It has become the most popular form of Buddleja to be grown mainly due to is stunning flowers that are the darkest form of any Buddleja. The flowers funny enough are smaller than the normal size of Buddleja flowers by are bourne on plants that will quite happily make 4m in height. It was grow away in most forms of soil, although it will struggle on heavy waterlogged ones. 

img 0200 Plant of the week  Buddleja davidii Black Knight 
It is pretty pest and disease free apart from the horrible eel worm. They are a microscopic nematodes that live in the young shoots of leaves of the plant, they tend to cause yellow patches in the leaves and deformed growth on the tips of new growth. To check if it has it, cut an infected shoot up and place into a glass of water and leaves for 30 minutes, if they are present, you will see tiny little balls of these tiny tiny worms at the bottom of the glass. To treat, best way is to remove infected shoots during the growing season and all old leaves in the winter and burn. 

Pretty easy to prune, I tend to prune mine in March and more details can be found here

Posted on Leave a comment

The Great Butterfly Count 

img 6802 The Great Butterfly Count 

brimstone The Great Butterfly Count 
Brimstone on a Buddeja

Butterflies make such a difference to our gardens, they make our gardens come a live with flicks of colour as they move around the garden, from one flower to the next, it helps to remind us our gardens aren’t just for our enjoyment but for the wildlife as well. One great way to engage with the nature that’s flutters into our gardens is to take part in the Butterfly Count. 
The last few years at this time of year, the Butterfly Conservation charity launches its annual butterfly count. The count looks at the more common butterflies that fly around the uk, so they can monitor how they are doing and also help monitor the effect climate change is effecting one of the major indicators speices of change. This wonderful project has been going since 2010 and last year had a massive 36,000 people taking part, recording over 400,000 butterflies and dayflying moths. It takes place from 14th of July to 6th of August and it’s not a differiclt thing to do, doesn’t make if you don’t know any of the butterflies that are around you, they produce a great app for your phone or will send you a butterfly chart with all the speices on the monitoring list so you can fill out the survey nice and easy. It takes 15 minutes to carry out, and you can either sit down and watch on spot or walk around the garden counting them as you go. It’s brilliant fun to get the kids involved, my little 5yr old daughter loved helping me carry out a few with me last year and still talks about it even now. It really gets the kids into thinking about both the garden and our wildlife. I also use it to check I am doing my job right in the borders I develop with butterflies in mind, a 15 minute survey helps me to keep on top of the plants that are working better than others and plants certain type of butterflies enjoy feeding on! 

img 0117 The Great Butterfly Count 
The Butterfly conservation does wonderful work promoting butterfly conservation around the country, improving habitats to help some of our rarest butterflies, monitoring so many diferent speices, improving our knowledge of butterflies, managing 30 sites and offering advice to other groups on improving sites. This is just a small part of what they do! 

img 5193 The Great Butterfly Count 
Small Tortoiseshell on Buddeja

It’s so easy to do, please take 15 minutes out of your week, whether it’s your lunchtime, spare time or even a whole school class or even take a picnic or daytime BBQ somewhere and add it into a fun game, all you need to do is download the app and take part of in it and open your eyes to the beauty of butterflies. 

This years count is being sponsored by Waitrose and it’s great to see a big supermarket take notice and sponsor such a valuable event 

While the Butterfly count is on, I am changing my plant of the week to my butterfly plant of the week, looking at a great plants, either cultivated or wild, that attractin butterflies either as a food source for catapilliers or indeed for the adults, hopefully this will encourage you in growing some more plants that help our beautiful winged delights.

Hope you will have great fun and enjoy 

img 5352 The Great Butterfly Count 
Peacock on verbena

Posted on 3 Comments

Hampton Court Flower Show-a world of flowers 

img 1552 Hampton Court Flower Show a world of flowers 


Well it’s been a few years since I have been to the show, it shouldn’t of been but I just arrived one year when they closed the show due to high winds! It’s not that I hate these shows, true I am not good in crowds but it’s more of the timing of them, every gardener know that this is a busy time of year, but last year I made the choice I needed to do events like this. When the appeal for helpers for volunteers to help man Perennial’s Tom Massey designed garden, I jumped at the chance! What a great way to see the show and help out on the day to charity that does so much to help us horticulturist.


The bright sunny day dawned, a shortish train journey to Hampton Court and then well it had to be done, a boat trip down the Thames to the show and arriving in style. Once though the essential bag searches, so sadly important for big events like this, I was in and met immediately with wildflower Turf laid out on with notes on the plants and butterflies. All leading up to the beautiful large dome, filled with butterflies, floating around the air and feeding off the flowers. Yes they are all types of exotic butterflies and moths, but it does show what they add to the garden, the movement and flashes of colour, bringing all important life to the garden


I moved though into the first area of gardens, first one that struct me was the kinetica garden (silver gilt medal) designed by senseless acts of beauty,  designed around the particle theory, with the garden laid out like the molecular structure of a solid object, the red cones really brought out the colour of the silver birches, then with the yellow still pools, reflected back both the silver birches and the great underplanting of grasses mixed in with a few herbecous plants.


Next garden really did make you think about the wider world and the damage we are doing to it! That the Tusk ‘not for sale’ Garden (silver) designed by Ferguson and Whyte Garden Design and sponsored by The Cotswold wildlife park, promoting Task, supporting wildlife and communities in Africa. The whole idea of the garden was to raise awareness of the damage done to the worlds elephant population, with the arches demoting the 80 elephants killed each day by poachers and th destruction caused by this awful crime! It really brought home the horror of it all for me


The Urban rain garden (silver gilt) designed by Rhiannon Williams of landform, sponsored by London stone and Squires garden centres. The garden is designed with both a front and back garden, designed to help to cope with the heavy rain we can get now and how to use it within our gardens without it causing the dreaded run off. Both front and back beds use raised beds to move the water from an aquatic area though to flower beds, all water ended up into storage tanks underground, with the front storage tank planted up under a grill. The patio area at the back had curves cut into the patio to channel the water into a dill. Lovely garden, only thing I would like to would of been maybe a side used for veg and fruit but enjoyed it


The garden that stood out for me in the area was the Perennial’s Sanctuary garden (silver gilt) designed by Tom Massey, plants from Hortus Loci. The theme for th garden was one that fitted Perennial perfectly, the planting around the edges, the reds and oranges are the busy feel of both the show ground but also the troubled and stressed mind of a horticulturist or close family member at the moment of severe crisis, mind in turbulence not too sure what to do, until they contact Perennial, then the journey becomes calmer as they help them overcome problems though their excellent range of advisors and councillors, they them become calmer, less stressed and mentally clearer, like the garden is becoming blue with a feel of peace coming though until you get to the calming centre, shrouded in the calm waving effect of the bamboo with a beautiful calm pool of water in the centre denoting the peace for when your problems are been solved. The garden just works so well from the mix of the crocosmia, helenium Moerhiem beauty and Deschampsia in the red area to the so simple but stunning calamagrotis x acutifolia karl Foerster and agapanthus Navy Blue in the blue section, so simple but so good. Perennial is a charity that helps out those in the horticulture trade and their families covering all sorts of life’s problems that can occur, from a simple accident that lays you off work to losing your job. I really wished I knew about them, when I hit apon hard times 10yrs ago, It would of helped me so much and if you ever find yourself in that position, they are there to help you!


Slowly I worked my way to the first marquee, the rose one and it was great to look around at the wonderful stands of roses that adorned the marque, flowers of pure delight from David Austin roses, Peter Beales, Fryers just to name a few. The whole are was full of their fragrance and colour, I spent ages going from one stand to another, looking at the array of colours, shapes and size flowers, from modern day roses to roses that go back hundreds of years.


Then I moved though a few of the smaller gardens like Charlie Blooms ‘colour box’ wow! She wanted to make a colourful garden and she certainly succeeded! This was a garden full of wonderful flowering plants, that work together so well to give you an garden full Colour and plants, a garden that is based around the plants and not the hard landscaping. Charlie built the garden on the power of social media, both getting plants, materials and help from it. What she has done is incredible alround and makes a wonderful difference in the world of big sponsorship. The panels that back the garden, really make a wonderful back drop. They were supplied by Stark and Greensmith and beautifully made allowing dappled light to come though the laser cut shapes within the panel, with the rusty finish, making them an ideal backdrop for the garden. Weldone Charlie for what you achieved!


Other beautiful gardens in the area certainly included Fun on the sea, a mix of colourful seaside beach huts, a rowing boat filled with flowers and wonderful planting including Nepatas, Agapanthus and grasses. The different size gravels really brought the seaside to Hampton court


One garden that won gold in this are was the Brownfield Metamorphosis designed by Wilson Associates Garden Design. Based around the derelict brownfield sites in the uk, it took elements from areas in Germany and New York to bring us an old industrial site that’s slowly disappearing into nature with grasses and other plants taking over the once busy area, the old metal structures slowly rusting and disappearing back into the soil from once they came, lovely little touches in this garden included the little bits of chain scattered about. Again a beautifully constructed garden, planted to perfection.


Of the main show gardens, the blind veterans garden by Andrew fisher Tomlin really caught my eye, from the wonderful woven tentacles or roots,   weaving around the lovely oak summerhouse and forming archways though the garden, planted with beautiful pictorial wildflower turf, slips so peacefully into the planted areas, a delightful mix of grasses, heliumums, alliums, echinacea and nepetas add colour, movement and delights to the eye. Construction was A1. Also well worth a mechioned was Paul Hervey-Brooks garden for Viking Crusies, with its blue building back drop, stunning paving and just brilliant paving! Really enjoyed looking at it, just a shame I couldn’t enjoy it with filming going on! I am surprised the Viking didn’t scare off the film crew!


Lastly there was the plant marquee, full of just stunning displays of the most beautiful plants, some I have been lucky enough to grows others I have never seen before! The stands were just amazing and tbh I don’t know where to start or finish! So I think I will let the photos say the words themselves! Indeed it was wonderful just to wonder amgonst the plants, enjoying the wide range on offer as well as talk to some of the talented growers and national collection holders like Philip from Canterbury Catherderal with his collection of Hakenechloa, Rob Hardy from Hardys  cottage plants. I will be doing a blog next week, in more detail about the plants I enjoyed seeing in the marquee


If I have left you or you garden out, I am so sorry, so many wonderful Gardens and trade stands (that said check out the Niwaki stand if you love your hand tools, brilliant stuff there!) there on the day, it would take me weeks to write it all up and well a few days wondering around the show spending time learning about you all. I took a lot from the show, some truly beautiful plantings, meeting some great people on the day all in truly one amazing venue, one I shall enjoy returning to next year and hopefully will try and spend more than one day to get around and into all the little nooks and crannies!


I hope you all enjoyed my highlights of the great show!

Posted on 7 Comments

Planting herbaceous plants for Butterflies and Bees

20150727 104604210 ios Planting herbaceous plants for Butterflies and BeesOne of the joys of my job has to be when clients let me loose with the pencil, colouring pencils and Shoots excellent plant directory to redesign gardens, borders or indeed just add plants and colour to the garden. I love to choose plants that not only look good but also help to encourage more pollinators including bees and butterflies into the garden. But why try to encourage them to the garden in the first place? well apart from the pollinating aspect there’s also a beauty aspect of seeing these beautiful creatures flying around the garden adding colour, movement and sound to enhancing what you have already. These little creatures are already under pressure and us gardeners adding plants they love, will also help them survive, indeed a good garden will at times hold a wider range of insects than most other spaces. One thing to bare in mind when looking to add plants for pollinators into the garden is to provide a wide range of different plants with different size and shape of flowers, each different speices of insect have tongues of different lengths which then require plants with the nectar at different lengths. Also some plants can be more attractive to certain speices of butterflies, I have seen this happen with a couple of plants now, first one was with silver washed fritillaries, to see a couple in a day is a delight but on a group of Lysimachia clethroides, I counted 15! It’s happened every year since, not see them on any other plant within the garden. Saw a similar thing with Red Admirals and Eryngium agavifolium, they seem to prefer this to other plants in the area.

Some plants that I find attract a wide range of bees and butterflies and make a big impact to the borders include

img 1328 Planting herbaceous plants for Butterflies and BeesKnautia macedonica, This lovely plant tends to flower from May-September with a little break in between. The dark red flowers are loved by bees and butterflies in their droves, a beautiful plant for the border, that may require a little staking at times. In a dry summer, may suffer with a little bit of mildew, treatment is easy, cut it hard and the new growth will be fine

img 1340 Planting herbaceous plants for Butterflies and Bees

Nepeta ‘Amelia’ a rather lovely pink version that gets up to 40cm in height and flowers all summer long, with its flowers attracting all types of pollinating insects.

Nepeta x fassinii, a lovely hybrid catmint between N.racemosa and N.mussinii. It is a smaller plant measuring up to 30cm in height, a lovely blue colour that is at home on poor soils including shallow chalk soil.

20150901 121017319 ios Planting herbaceous plants for Butterflies and BeesVerbena bonariensis. A great plant that can grow up to 1.5m in height with its purple flowers that almost gives a purple haze effect in the garden. It is a native of South America but will survive in temputures down to -10c. A cold winter may kill off the main plant but loads of seedling can appear in the spring. This plant is a favourite of the hummingbird hawk moth when it appears in the uk in late summer, prefect timing as the verbena is at its best

sdc10044 Planting herbaceous plants for Butterflies and BeesHelenium ‘MoreheimBeauty‘ another late summer flowering plant that can be seen buzzing with bees, butterflies and hoverflies.  This North American plant will grow in most conditions but are more at in a damping bed. May need a little bit of support during the summer .

323 Planting herbaceous plants for Butterflies and BeesDigitalis purpurea this biannual is a native of the British Isles where it can make a plant up to 2m in height, tends to flower early summer and is a great favourite of bees.

echinacea hot summer 4 Planting herbaceous plants for Butterflies and Bees

Echinacea purpurea another North American prairie plant that comes into its own in mid to late summer, flowering in a range of colours forming good strong plants, it’s nice open nature means it’s a magnet to a wide range of speices
echninops rito Planting herbaceous plants for Butterflies and Bees

Echinops ritro, a native of Southern Europe, this blue globe thistle, it tends to favour a dry site and doesn’t like a damp spot, it flowers July -October. It is loved by all pollinators

eupatorium purpureum purple bush Planting herbaceous plants for Butterflies and BeesEupatorium maculatum this tall North American plant prefers to grow in a damp site, where it grows to 2m in height, again its open flowers again attract so many insects.

pulmonaria beths blue Planting herbaceous plants for Butterflies and Bees

Pulmonaria the lungworts are a real boast for any early season insects, these beautiful plants not only have lovely flowers but the leaves are also very beautiful, they do prefer a damp shady spot. They come in a wide range of pastel colours and tend to flower from February to April.

img 5354 Planting herbaceous plants for Butterflies and Bees

Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ this shrubby wall flower does flower for almost the whole year with its lovely mauve coloured flowers but it’s the spring time it makes a difference to the early pollinators. Does well in most soils, doesn’t like it too wet and prefers a dry site. It is only short lived but easily propagated by taking cuttings in the summer

img 5173 Planting herbaceous plants for Butterflies and Bees

Origanum laevigatum ‘Herrenhausen’. This native of turkey loves poor soil and in full sun. it grows to about 50cn in hieght and flowers from April-October

img 5165 Planting herbaceous plants for Butterflies and Bees

Sedum spectable This native of korea and china is famed for the love insects have for it, tends to get to about 70cm in hieght although you can reduce it by half by giving it a chelsea chop, flowers from mid summer and it one of those plants with something of interest for 12 months of the year

These are just a tiny selection of plants that you can add to your borders to add both colour, interest and help our under pressure pollinators.  Garden centres are now helping out by adding little pictures of bees to the labels. There are a few great groups to join if you want to learn more about bees and butterflies. They are the bumblebee conservation trust and butterfly conservation www., These are great trusts to join to learn more about the bees and butterflies.

img 1438 Planting herbaceous plants for Butterflies and Bees

DreamTeam Planting herbaceous plants for Butterflies and Bees