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FSC’s top 5 ways to help pollinators in your garden

Monday 30th April marks the beginning of National Gardening Week, heralded by the sound of lawnmowers up and down the country.

Gardening keeps you physically and mentally fit, with some reports claiming that gardeners live longer than people of other professions. A day spent in the garden can also be a wonderful way to unwind and connect with the natural world. What if the weeding, mowing and pruning you do, could also improve the health of local wildlife?

The Field Studies Council have been raising awareness of biodiversity and landscape for 75 years. In the last 20 years, we have noticed a rapid decline in the diversity of our native habitats and species. The little things, such as bees, butterflies and other invertebrates are often the early warning system for larger scale climate change; the rapid decline in the numbers and species of these important pollinators is cause for serious concern. Habitat loss is among the top causes of this decline.

Happily, there are things we can do to help. Here are the FSC’s Top 5 ways to help pollinators and other wildlife in your garden:

Monday 30th April marks the beginning of National Gardening Week, heralded by the sound of lawnmowers up and down the country.

1. Don’t be too tidy

Leave areas for dandelions, daisies and clover to flower and spread. A range of different native wildflowers (they are only called weeds by gardeners) will attract many pollinators, such as the Hairy-footed Flower Bee (Anthophora plumipes) or the Red-Tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius). 

2. Make a series of small habitats for wildlife in your garden

Piles of stones, marshy areas, a pond or small bug hotel can be attractive and useful additions to even the smallest garden.

3. Take time to watch wildlife in your garden

The FSC produce a range of different resources to help you spot wildlife in your back yard. Relax with a cup of tea and get to know your wildlife. You’ll be a more informed gardener as a result. How about a Garden Safari pack, to get the whole family spotting garden wildlife? Record what you see. The FSC uses iRecord to capture information about what we have seen across the UK. We are building up a database of common and rare species that will help decision makers do the right thing for wildlife, now and in the future. It’s easy to join in, simply download the app from their website.

4. Choose UK native flower and tree species

However please remember it is against the law to uproot plants from the wild. A good garden centre will be able to recommend species for you, or head to the Plantlife website for advice on wildlife friendly planting.

5. ‘Best for Bees’ plant recommendations

What plants to put in your garden and which wildflowers or ‘weeds’ to leave throughout the year:
Spring - Plant native Willow (Salix sp.) species and let Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum) flower in your lawn.
Summer - Plant Borage (eg; B) species and let Bird’s Foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) flower in your  lawn.
Autumn - Plant Knapweed (), let Daisies (Asteraceae) flower in your lawn.
Winter - Plant Heather species (Calluna, Erica etc) and let Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale agg.) flower in your lawn.

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Find out more with FSC plant courses and plant publications.

Elings M. (2006) People-plant interaction: the physiological, psychological and sociological effects of plants on people. In: HASSINK J., VAN DIJK M. (eds) FARMING FOR HEALTH. Springer, Dordrecht

Kirk, W.D. and Howes, F.N., 2012. Plants for bees: a guide to the plants that benefit the bees of the British Isles


Friday, April 27, 2018