GARDENING: Keeping it wild for wildlife

Honey bee flower mix
Honey bee flower mix

BRITISH wildlife’s natural habitats are under threat and our gardens are becoming a refuge for endangered species.

Wild About Gardens, a joint initiative by the RHS and The Wildlife Trusts, runs from September 15-21 to encourage gardeners to support diverse ecosystems.

In May 2013, the State of Nature report, compiled by 25 wildlife organisations, found that 60 per cent of the 3,148 UK animal and plant species assessed have declined in the past 50 years.

Formerly plentiful species – hedgehogs, house sparrows, starlings and common frogs – are becoming scarce.

This is where gardeners can make a difference, by adopting wildlife-friendly planting styles, such as the traditional cottage garden.

The broad range of plants and crowded beds attracts varied visitors. Nectar, pollen and seeds are primary food sources, so thoughtful planting in any style will attract butterflies, bees, birds, moths, aphid-eating lacewings and hoverflies.

So what can you do to make your garden more wildlife friendly? Here’s some top tips:

Sunny, sheltered borders attract more bees and butterflies than shady or windy sites.

Grow a mix of native and non-native plants, to extend the supply of food; from bulbs in early spring to sedums with long-lasting seedheads that persist into winter.

Plant in drifts - they’re easier for insects to detect.

Ask for advice at specialist nurseries, which supply wildflower seeds/plugs, as well as cottage garden plants.

Wildflowers can be incorporated into flower borders, or have a separate border with cornflowers, scabious, cranesbill, foxgloves, chicory and bellflowers.

Members of the daisy family (Asteraceae), buddleias, teasels and globe thistle (Echinops ritro) are striking and attract wildlife.

Don’t cut back dead flower heads until spring. The seed heads provide food for birds, while the stems and foliage provide shelter for hibernating insects.

Avoid chemical fertilisers. Organic options include seaweed derivatives, dried blood, fish and bone meal and pelleted chicken manure. Improve your soil structure by adding bulky organic material.

Visit for other ideas on how to encourage wildlife into your garden and boost biodiversity.

Honey bee seed mix

THOMPSON & Morgan is running a wildlife seed competition alongside Wild About Gardens Week.

From September 15-21, it will be giving away three packs of wildflower seeds to 50 winners.

For your chance to win a honey bee seed mix, Cornflower Blue Diadem seeds and Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi) seeds, log on to