A biodiverse garden is one that is overflowing and catering to nature in all its forms. It there to support local wildlife encouraging balance and harmony in what every size space you have. Spring is here so I am falling inlove with my garden all over again! We want to see loves of bees, butterflies ( I actually don’t like them but I understand that they are crucial to pollination) wasps ( they pollinate and eat bugs) ants, dragonflies, crane flies, spiders, woodlice, frogs, newts, toads birds and my favourite the hedgehog. I have probably missed off lots of my local wildlife but I want to cater to all of them.
Plastic the balance of harm and good
A few things about my garden that aren’t great…. Well it’s my faux lawn, easy to maintain but offers no safety or food to the London wildlife. The creating of it and eventually the removal of it is also not great! When it comes to plastic pots and planting I believe that plastic is so easy to use so I don’t through them away. Plastic pots are great, reusable and strong but when it gets damaged it is harmful and ineffective.
Except for pots and compost bags, plastic has little place in your garden. Plants and birds can’t live in it and the certainly can’t eat it. My future plans for the garden is to sow a lawn, let it grow long in May and winter and then keep on top of it the rest of the time. We have a dog so maintenance is important.
I encourage you never to put faux plants in your garden. Instead invest in hardy perennials that come back year after year with little effort. If you cannot mow your lawn due to health then replace it with a flowering or moss lawn, there are many other options. My camellia is over 50years old. It takes care of itself, it’s evergreen so I have the most beautiful leaves all year. I rarely water it and this year I have had the best blooms! sparrows nest in it every year and lots of insects make it their home. It does need a trim twice a year but it’s a big shrub.
There is a flower or plant for every place in your home and garden so don’t buy more plastic, just look after your plants. Put them in a place you are constantly looking at them and you will never forget to take care of them. They will give you far more joy then any plastic flower, that will also fade and end up in the bin.
Planting for wildlife
When considering your garden it it always great to through in a few plants for the bees. They are keeping us alive and we need to look after them and our future. It is important. Where ever you are in the world research your native plants, find the ones you want to try and sow them for the bees.
A bees favourite colour is purple! So if you like this colour than go crazy.
Bees and insects need flowers all year long. And Winter is the hardest month for our buzzing friends, so plant flowers that will sustain them. Hellebores are perfect… although my obsession with them is growing by the day. Willows offer pollen to hungry bees. Crocuses and snowdrops are wonderful bulbs to plant as they are always the first and give food to lots of insects. My heather has been flowering all winter giving much needed colour shelter and sustenance. Flowers that have single layers petals are best for bees, so if you prefer double layered frilly flowers then just add some single layered for the bees.
Nature loves fragrant flowers as much as you do so choose wisely and if your flowers aren’t the bees favourite then considering adding a few ones just for them!
Campanula, Delphiniums- I have bought some seeds hopefully they will grow. Foxgloves, Hardy geraniums- mine are pink and come back every year, a great investment Honesty, Hollyhocks -I am growing these as well, my mum lives in France and Hollyhocks grow in the the driest soil so I have high hopes for neglecting them. Snapdragons- my sister recommended these as they self seed and make gorgeous cut flowers so I bought some peachy ones. Teasel, Thyme is great to let it flower especially if you have already harvested what you will use for winter. Verbascum which look like mini hollyhocks and come in so many colours. You can grow all these from seed or talk to your neighbours and see if there plant swap group.
Instead of bird feeds grow grasses like maize, miscanthus and sunflowers are filled with seeds that help our flying friends, they also look beautiful too.
Shelter is so important. Wildlife needs to feel safe. Only honey bees live in huge hives. Bumble bees live where they can, in bug hotels, empty bird boxes, dried leaves. When autumn arrives add the leaves to your beds don’t bag them and throw them away. They create food and a natural environment for wildlife, bees, bugs, birds and hedgehogs. Plus it costs you nothing but time and is the richest compost you can buy, for free.
Birds and bugs all need safety from predators. I sage place to rest as well as eat. Let’s not forget those two amazing weeks of sunshine where we all complain it’s too hot. All creatures need lots of shade, to protect from the heat and the cold.
Although I have lots of trees and bushes I have just bought a few bug hotels so I will be adding them and my bird boxes to protect the small birds.
The importance of water
Just as your plants get thirsty so do the birds and bees but more than that, when you create biodiversity in your garden you also create an equilibrium of pests and nature. Birds need somewhere to bathe, bees need some wear to sip and if you have a pond or low water feature then you may attract frogs and newts.
If you look after nature then it repays you tenfold. By adding water and shade to your garden frogs and birds will stay longer and help you out with slugs and snails!
There is a terrible trend of people making water features with glass marbles that heat up and burn the bees. Please just use natural materials like rocks and stones and let’s not harm the wildlife! Oh I sound like such a nag, sorry, one of the problems with social media is that people see trends and thing they are great when they are harmful.
If you introduce water to your garden you may get mosquitoes, which will encourage spiders and birds but if you don’t want them then add movement to your water. You can buy solar panel fountains and solve all your problems or keep a shallow bird bath so that the rain water replenishes it.
Building a biodiverse garden shouldn’t be hard or expensive
You can be resourceful. I have a butterfly bush in my garden. I don’t actually like them but the bees and butterflies do so I let it grow and when it died I cut it right back knowing it will bloom again. My small London garden doesn’t get hedgehogs because there is no pathway for them, I need to cut a small hole in the fence so they can squeeze through and help themselves to all our slugs.
Growing from seed means you can have your dream garden for very little money. I grow a lot in pots because the majority of my garden is in shade and the sun hits the decking the most. If you do plant in pots it means you can contain any plants that spread easily ( if you are worried about it). I then gather all my seeds from my flowers and plant them the next year or let them scatter to the ground.
Any small change will be good for the garden and nature will appreciate any effort you make.
I have some jobs to do in helping my local wildlife and I will be taking you on this journey with me.