I think we have all come to appreciate (if we didn’t before) the importance of a garden. It doesn’t matter what it’s size, what you have may not amount to what we traditionally think of as a “garden”, but having outside space where you can sit and enjoy being outdoors makes a big difference. This is true whether you are already in your dream home or looking to move. Could the very reason you have decided to move be the fact that you want a garden or perhaps you have realised that you would prefer to spend more time relaxing and enjoying your garden than tending it?
Did you know that next week is garden wildlife week or that the 1st June marks Butterfly Awareness Day? So I thought I’d share some ideas for making the most of your garden including attracting the wildlife and butterflies, to your garden.
The Importance of the Garden
Let’s start by thinking about why the garden, or outside space is important. There has been an increasing awareness for some time now of the importance of the outdoors on our mental wellbeing – the fresh air, the calming effect of interacting with nature and wildlife, ‘shinrin-yoku’ (forest bathing). Attracting wildlife to the garden helps with things like pollination and we enjoy watching and listening to the birds, seeing butterflies and bees on the plants. On a purely practical level, it provides extra living space.
What Do Want From Your Garden?
Think of your garden as an extension of your indoor space. Just as with an indoor space think about what it is you actually want and need from your garden. Is it a low maintenance entertaining space, somewhere to grow vegetables, a place for the kids to play, a space to indulge your love of gardening or somewhere to attract wildlife for their benefit and so that you can enjoy watching them? For most of us a garden needs to fulfill several functions and it is a question of prioritising and juggling. Take time to really consider what is most important.
Include A Pond or Water Feature
Water is an essential element of any wildlife garden. All wildlife needs water, particularly in hot weather. It could be as simple as a bird bath that the birds will come to drink from or bathe in. In a larger garden create a pond. It is possible to buy preformed ponds in various sizes which are easy to install. It’s important to have different levels so that the wildlife can easily enter and leave the pond and also to accommodate different aquatic plants. In a smaller space even a shallow dish inserted in a flower bed in a secluded spot will encourage insects and perhaps even frogs!
For me, some sort of seating area is a must, whether it is simply a place to enjoy a glass of wine or cup of coffee, read a book, take time to pause at the end of a day working or to watch and enjoy the wildlife. An arbour with seating can be positioned in a secluded area and the style pictured has the advantage that in addition to seating you have shelter and the opportunity to plant climbers to grow up the trellis and provide scent.
Plants for Wildlife and Butterflies
You don’t have to have a large garden to be able to encourage wildlife. Lots of butterfly and bee friendly plants can be grown in pots. Create a haven for insects by having an area with some logs or make or buy a bug hotel. You can hang a bird feeder from a tree or have a stand with multiple feeders. Plant flowers and shrubs that are known to be attractive to bees, butterflies and pollinators. If you can, have an area of your garden that is left natural with nettles, grasses and wildflowers. It’s best plant to provide flowers from very early spring when the first solitary bees emerge to late autumn.
Here are a selection of plants and shrubs to try – Hardy geranium, Sedum, cotoneaster, alliums and chives. monarda, oregano, perovskia (russian sage) and of course buddleia (commonly known as the butterfly bush) and lavender.
I hope that this blog has given you some ideas for how to encourage wildlife in to your garden whatever it’s size. If your enjoyed this article and are looking for some interiors inspiration, visit the Diary Page of my website for some ideas, there are lots of topics to choose from. Need help? Call me on 07745 876182 for an informal chat.