As the winter draws to an end, the milder weather is just around the corner, along with our awakening wildlife. They will be looking for early season food sources as a form of a New Year breakfast. In the south of England we are now experiencing early sightings of the White-Tailed Bumble Bee as it seems to be over-wintering in our milder climate. Early flowering plants like native Primroses, Viburnums and Pulmonaria are perfect for an early feed up.
Spring flowering Heathers are another vital source of nectar. Often referred to as the Honey Bee plant, they are an excellent addition to the garden for attracting another species that is struggling here in the UK. Honey Bees are responsible for around 80% of pollination in the UK and need all the help they can get in the early months of the year.
Although you may not feel as though your garden is big enough to create a wildlife haven, if you combine all the back gardens in your neighbourhood then we really start to build up a landscape that can help support our native wildlife species. All we have to do is plant some of the appropriate wildlife plants in our gardens and together we can all help. Somebody once said ‘A lot of crumbs make a cake’.
Here are a few useful hints and tips to help you have success in your garden:
- Where possible avoid ‘double flowering’ type plants. They are the ones that look like they have a flower within a flower. Insects find it tricky to access the nectar in them.
- Visit garden centres and national gardens on sunny days to see exactly what the bees are attracted to and then plant those in your garden.
- Leave an area in your garden to ‘run wild’ then plants like Comfrey that are very rich in nectar and nettles are the natural food source for Peacock butterfly larvae.
- Spend some time in your own garden assessing whether or not your flowers attract anything? If not then it may be worth replacing them with plants that do.
There are many trees, shrubs and perennial plants that are perfect for pollinators at this time of year. Here are a few of our favourites:
- Prunus Autumnalis- Winter flowering ornamental Cherry ideal for small gardens
- Sarcococca confusa- Slow growing evergreen shrub with highly perfumed flowers
- Hamamelis-Witch Hazels look amazing right now with their spider-like flowers
- Helleborus-There are now many forms of the ‘Christmas Rose’ available in a range of colours
- Chimonanthus praecox-Bitter Sweet is a traditional shrub with a unique perfume
- Heathers- Many different varieties that can provide flower nearly all year.
- Erysimum-Wallflowers are now available in perennial form with ‘Bowles Mauve’ being a favourite with both humans and bees.
If you have any questions about this, then please feel free to pop in and we will be more than happy to show you what you can plant in your garden at this time of year to help support our wildlife.