Sunday, 14 June 2015

Want to help nature? - Instalment Two

On the 17th of June there is a march through London to speak up for our planet, focusing on climate change in particular. They are using the #fortheloveof to spread the news and get as many people involved as possible. Even though I won't be down in London I will be cheering on from the sidelines by tweeting and contacting my local MP's to get them involved too. 

One of the things climate change is affecting drastically is the migration route of butterflies such as these Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus), which obviously has a knock-on affect on their populations, shown on the chart below. 

These problems can rarely be solved by individual people…the solutions have to be a government decision as this is usually the only way to get enough people involved. However, if you want to help your local pollinating insects then follow my top tips below!

Plant the right type of flowers

Buddleja davidii - these are incredibly well-known due to their popularity among butterflies. They grow very quickly. Once they are mature they need cutting back each year so that new fresh shoots can develop each Spring, bringing lots of flowers along with them! I have a fully established Buddleja in my garden, but I have recently planted another (seen below) closer to the house, allowing us to see the butterflies from our kitchen window.

Sunflowers (Helianthus) are fun to grow and will also help your local pollinators. Make sure to buy the right variety of sunflower, as some are better than others in terms of pollen production. Lavender (Lavandula) - always welcome due to their aroma…they not only help bees and butterflies but also birds like the goldfinch below!

Oregano - Origanum vulgare

Foxgloves (Digitalis) are often seen a weeds and are usually chopped down before they reach flowering. This is such a shame as they have the most beautiful flowers, and they help bees tremendously.

Not only do you need to provide the right flowers, it's also very important to make a 'insect hotel' in which they can protect themselves from the elements. Solitary bee hotels are exceptionally easy to make…you can either fill a empty jar/tin with hollow bamboo poles, or you can drill holes into blocks of wood. For mine I used a section of tree trunk and drilled varying diameter holes into the flat end using a handheld drill. On top of the trunk I layered bamboo poles on top to make the hotel stand better chances of getting a vacancy!

It's always a good idea to provide food for the bees and butterflies too. I usually leave out sliced oranges on top of our brick wall which is next to our Buddleja. Also, I hang sliced fruit on kebab sticks in and around my wildlife garden. Alternatively you could buy a butterfly feeder which uses dilute sugar solution to attract visitors. As you can see there are plenty of ways to make your garden pollinator-friendly. So…get out in your garden this week and help protect out pollinators with a few simple tricks!