HOW YOU CAN HELP BIODIVERSITY AND ENJOY NATURE
THIS MONTH .
At last Spring has sprung.
There are signs everywhere signs of this all around us from electric yellow spring celandines in bloom to the wonderful heartening sound of birds singing to attract a mate and establish their breeding territories and our fascinating frogs gathering to mate and spawn in ponds and ditches. What a fantastic time of year.
There are lots of things you can do this month to help halt biodiversity loss and make a real difference to our threatened native wildlife.
What can I do. How can I make a difference ?.
Start with your immediate spaces around you. If you have a garden, or community space , a patio, a balcony.
or even a window box on a window sill. Every action now matter how small makes a real difference.
We have such precious and beautiful wildlife here on our doorstep and it is in drastic need of your help and protection.. All it needs is the right conditions which can be provided with a little effort and you will be rewarded many many times over. You will get close up views of our stunning native wildlife to fascinate you and that wonderful feeling of satisfaction knowing you really are making a difference..
MAKE A POLLINATOR BED.
This can be as easy as changing plants in an existing flower bed to more pollinator and wildlife focused plants., or alternatively digging and creating a new flower bed.
In terms of the final effect, you can have both a flower bed that is colorful and great to look at, and also one that is a magnet and haven for all sorts of pollinators and other creatures. It is also worth remembering with regard to flowers, shrubs and trees, some are much better than others for pollinators and other animals.
So what is the objective of this project. ?
A space that will provide color, structure, and be a joy to look at for you through the different seasons
A space that will provide food for our under threat pollinators.
A space that will provide a habitat and shelter for all sorts of insects throughout the seasons.
How to get started
Choose a nice well drained site preferably in good sun. To prepare the area the aim is to remove any existing grasses etc and end up with a well dug over clear patch of fertile moisture retaining soil. You ideally want to finish with a nice rich soil that will crumble in your hand,
You may need after you have cleared away all the grass etc, and dug over the soil to loosen and break it up to add some well rotted garden compost or well rotted manure that you could source from your local garden cenre. Or even better a compost that you have made yourself. If you do buy a compost from your garden center, please choose a peat free type one, to ensure our precious bogs have not been damaged in the production of the compost.
Once you have done the hard work and have the ground ready for planting, now the exciting bit, choosing an planting all those wonderful plants that will have your garden buzzing in the coming months.
To have a real beneficial effect and help these pollinators as much as possible. What we want to do especially is provide a food source for early in the season when they are active, in late winter/early spring. And then later in the season in late summer and into autumn and even winter when on those warmer winter days some pollinators might be active.
The list is endless in relation to the plants you could choose but we will list some we have found to be particularly attractive to pollinators.
The following are just some of the many ornamental flowering plants that we would recommend,. that will both be fantastic to look at and be hugely beneficial to our pollinators.
Late Winter / Early Spring
Snowdrops Galanthus sp. (one of the very first flowers to show and a great early food source for pollinators)
Crocus (prefer large flowering varieties, especially purple in color which are more attractive to emerging bumblebees).
Oregon Grape/Mahonia (Is a large shrub that will flower in late winter and looks great at the back of a border).
Hellebores (again come in many colors bit the purple shades are much loved by bees).
Grape Hyacinth Muscari (a great spring flower that bees will love).
Rosemary (Great herb with little blue flowers pollinators will love).
Flowering Currant ( shrub for the back of a border that flowers in spring and much loved by bumblebees)
Lungwort (comes in white or purple in flower).
Pear/Apple/Plum or Cherry (why not chose a tree that you could grow against a wall or fence at the back of a flower bed if possible, will provide early pollen and nectar, look great in flower and then you can enjoy the fruit in autumn).
Wallflower Erysium Bowles Mauve (a fantastic plant that will flower profusely all summer and is a magnet for butterflies).
Geranium "Rozanne" (This particular geranium flowers non stop all summer, looks fantastic and is much loved by honeybees)
Catmint Nepeta Six Hills Giant ( Great plant for bees/lovely silvery foliage)
Sage Salvia sp. ( again the purple flowering varieties are great
Dahlia sp. (single flowering varieties, would reccomend "Twynings After Eight" beautiful dark foliage contrasting with lovely white flowers).
Cornflower Centaurea cyanus ( a fantastic annual flower much lover by all bees)
Sea Holly (Eryngium sp. a member of the thistle family with lovely silver foliage and a magnet for bees).
Sunflower (helianthus sp. great for the back of a border as grows tall and great for bees)
Verbena bonarensis (great for the back of a border as grows tall and loved by butterflies) .
Buddleia sp. (again great shrub for the back of a border and a magnet for butterflies).
Scabious sp. (lovey blue flowers why not try the wild native type "Devils Bit Scabious", though also available as an ornamental flower, all atractive to bees and butterflies)
Lavender sp. (fantastic plants for Bees, flowering over an extender period).
Honeysuckle Lonicera pericylmenum ( great plant with a wonderful scent, great for moths and will scramble/climb up through a tree or shrub).
Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis (wondrful yellow flowers loved by moths).
Purple Loosestrife Lythrum salicaria (lovely spikes for purple flowers)
Hebe Sp. ( come in lots of different forms from taller varieties to more compact varieties, one we prefer is a white flowering variety called "Pewter Dome" which when in flower is loved by Bumblebees).
Thyme Thymus sp. (Wonderful culinary herb lived by all pollinators)
Oregano Origanum sp. (Wonderful culinary herb lived by all pollinators)
Bramble Rubus fructicosa ( One of our top native wildlife plants providing lots of pollen and nectar for all manner of pollinators and berries and cover for birds. Also a great way of making a fence nearly impenetrable against intruders).
Thistle Cirsium rivulare (without the spines of the wild thistle and with lovely purple flowers that bees love).
Alium sphaeracephalon (wonderful globe purple flower heads that will be covered in bees and spreads readily).
Bellflower Campanuala ( great for the front of a border with lovely white or blue flowers)
Michaelmas Daisy Aster sp. ( single flowering, great late season producers of pollen and nectar and flower profusely, loved by all pollinators).
Sedum sp. ( cactus like succulents come in lots of varieties and colors great for pollinators)
Ivy Helix hedera ( one of our top wildlife plants producing masses of flowers laden with pollen and nectar in September and October see the previous post on this wonderful plant here for more information).
A point worth remembering is to choose where applicable single flowering plants over the multi flowered varieties that have been bred for show. The problem with the latter is that they often produce little or sometimes no pollen and/or nectar.
Also due to their complicated flower structure pollinators find it very difficult to navigate through the flower structure to access the pollen and nectar..
The picture below we took shows the suitable flower structure to the left hand side and the non suitable flower structure to the right. The simpler the structure the better and the easier it is for a pollinator to get to its food source.
PLANT OUR NATIVE IVY CLIMBING SHRUB.
March is a great month to plant a wonderful plant for wildlife, our native climbing Ivy here.
FEED THE BIRDS:
March is a great month to feed our wild birds in preparation for the coming breeding season in spring. And to attract them into your outdoor spaces.
What better way to brighten up these darker winter days.
See the previous post all about this here.
PUT UP BIRD NEST BOXES:
There is still time in early March to put up nest boxes in preparation for the spring and summer nesting season.
Birds soon will be checking out potential nest sites and a great way to keep them in your garden during Spring and Summer is putting up suitable nest boxes.. See the previous post with lots of information on how to go about this here.
PLANT A NATIVE TREE OR SHRUB:
This is is a still a great month to get some planting done. If planting bare root plants though it would need to be early march otherwise if planting from pots any time this month is okay. See previous post relating to this here.
TAKE A WILLOW CUTTING:
This is a great month to take a Willow cutting.
See previous post relating to this here.