Planting for a Nature Garden
As a result of the growing interest in conservation, there is a current enthusiasm for planting wild flowers in gardens. This has engendered a wider interest in wild flowers and many people, admittedly mainly those with larger gardens, are devoting space to growing wild species in preference to cultivated plants. This practice helps to reduce maintenance problems and also encourages wildlife. There are now firms which specialize in wild flower seed; they offer collections of wild flowers, wild mixtures, wildlife mixtures (for, and birds), nectar flowers for butterflies, and edible plants, wild and ornamental and .
However, to translate wild nature to the small town garden presents some difficulty but it is worth considering some of the plants that will encourage bees and butterflies to your garden. To encourage butterflies the first shrub that comes to mind is the buddleia. Ordinary Buddleia davidii produces in summer huge racemes of flowers on which congregate masses of butterflies. Many other unusual plants also attract butterflies. The following list offers just a sample. Phlox decussata is a hardy herbaceous perennial, reaching about 90cm (3ft) with various coloured flowers in named varieties. The red-hot poker is another herbaceous perennial with spikes of tubular flowers that vary in colour from pale cream to deep orange. Scabiosa caucasica, 75cm (30in) tall, is a well-known herbaceous plant with large blue flowers. The annual scabious also is attractive to butterflies.
In the autumn Sedum spectabile is a quite outstanding attraction for the butterflies that congregate on its huge heads of pink flowers. Senecio greyii is a silver-leaved shrub which can reach 1.2m (3.9ft), spreads nicely, and is marvellous for cutting. The yellow flowers provide butterflies with nectar., which can reach about 1.8m (6ft), seeds itself all over the place and has curiously branched behaviour, producing at the tips of the side branches small clusters of bluish flowers, which are full of nectar.
Common lilac is a happy sight when covered in butterflies and, in the autumn, heleniums are seen to be attractive., cornflowers, golden rod, African and French , Michaelmas daisies, night-scented stock, thrift and : all are attractive to butterflies.
Bees are industrious garden-dwellers and there are certain well-known plants of which they are particularly fond, such as headier, which makes delicious honey. However, there are other plants worth considering. Echinops, globe thistle and Eryngium are usually smothered in bees in the summer. Likewise, bees enjoy, field , pyrethrum, stonecrop and . Several of the culinary herbs offer pollen for bees, including lemon balm , chives, , marjoram and mint, together with rosemary, rue, sage and thyme.
Seed-eating birds seek out their food from many weeds which (if you are a tidy gardener) can pose a problem if you wish to attract birds to your garden. However, it is a marvellous excuse not to cultivate your plot! Many of the shorter-growing weeds, such as birdsfoot trefoil, clover, chick-weed, coltsfoot, dandelion, fat hen, forget-me-not, groundsel, plantain and shepherd’s purse are popular with birds. So too are taller-growing subjects, some of which may be more acceptable to the gardener; for example, Michaelmas daisy, evening primrose, common flax, knapweed, meadow sweet, Scotch thistle and nettle.
To entice birds into your garden and to persuade them to stay, you can provide a nesting box and bird table. The entrance to the nesting box must be sheltered from the wind and should also, from the selfish human point of view, be visible from the house. A bird table should be situated well away from any trees, in an open position, so thatand squirrels cannot climb up.