Gardening for Bees and Butterflies

Bumble Bee on Yellow Rattle, image by C Parry

Have you considered setting aside an area for wildlife in your garden, but don't know how to go about it?

Read on! Whether you just want to add some bee-friendly species amongst your borders or create a nectar patch we can point you in the right direction.

Creating a Nectar Patch

The first thing to consider is the location. Try and choose an area that gets some sunshine, and is reasonably well drained – i.e not really wet and boggy.

  • Source some native wild flower seed – here's a few suggestions:

  • Choose a seed mix for neutral soils unless you are sure you have alkaline/base rich or acidic soil (you can get a cheap soil ph test online)
  • Cut the existing grass really short
  • Create plenty of bare soil patches by rake or scarify (or you can go mad and remove the turf!)
  • Sow your seed following the suppliers directions
  • Keep well watered until established
  • In late August, or when everything has set seed, cut everything right back and keep short over winter/spring.

You'll probably find that all the annuals come up in the first year, and the perennials in the second year onwards. Buying a seed mix that includes yellow-rattle will help to suppress the grass over time.

Adding to Existing Planting

There is a vast array of plants that pollinators love in the garden, and not all have to be in a sunny location. Some examples are lavender, lilacs, culinary herbs such as thymes and rosemary, honeysuckles borage and comfrey to name a few. The main consideration is choosing your planting to ensure you have something in flower throughout the seasons. Some pollinators, such as the buff-tailed bumblebee even forage in winter! Don't forget trees and hedges too, there are many species loved by our pollinators.

For more detailed suggestions on planting here are some useful links:

And if you're fed up of reading then here is a great podcast of Dave Goulson, founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust giving advice on gardening for wildlife. 

Read more about the Forest of Bowland Hay Time Project here

Bowland Hay Meadow