Improving Your Garden for Wildlife – Planting for Pollinators
Blog by: Lisa Critchley
No matter how small your garden is, or even if you do not have a garden, you can still improve your outdoor space for wildlife. If you only have a windowsill, you can still get a window box and plant it up to encourage insects and other beasties. For example, at my house in Belfast, I have cherry, rowan and oak trees in flowerpots on my windowsill (which do need planting out soon!). I salvaged wild garlic bulbs, which were exposed from construction work at a work site a couple of years ago, and planted them in the tree pots and I bought crocuses to bring some spring colour to the pots. Balanced on top of my oil tank, I have mint, oregano, rosemary, thyme, chives, hyacinths from a few years ago and a couple of plants I chose to attract pollinators into the yard. I also bought a hanging basket (that was reduced to throw out with dying plants in it but look how healthy it is!) and added lavender to it, again to encourage pollinators to visit. This goes to show, you really can add a lot of life to a seemingly lifeless area! Please note, I did all of this to my yard over the last few years, not recently.
For the duration of lockdown, I have been living at my boyfriend’s house and his garden is another perfect example of an outside space that needs improving for wildlife. The area in which I can plant is minimal, as you can see from this picture and the accompanying video, but I have still managed to plant for pollinators.
You too can improve your garden or outside space for wildlife by planting for pollinators. Watch the video to see how or read this article!
First you need to work out what kind of environment the area you are planting into is like, is it sunny, damp, shaded? This will help you to choose which plants to buy. I had a limited choice of plants to buy as, due to lockdown, I could only access them at garage shops and supermarkets, but they still had good plants available. During my essential shop, and following government guidelines on social distancing, I bought a verbena, a calibrachoa and a lavender. I used the RHS website to find out if they are good for pollinators when I was at the shop. I also planted a hyacinth that was going over: they are bulb plants so come up every year and need not be thrown out once they stop flowering. You will need to prepare the area before planting: weed out any undesirable plants and dig through the soil to aerate and loosen it. I had to improvise for tools as I did not have a trowel and so used an old spoon, which did the job perfectly. Next, dig the hole for the plant making sure it is deep enough to bring the base of the plant stem level with the soil and wide enough to allow loose soil around the roots. Gently squeeze the plant pot and take out the plant by carefully holding the base of the stem. Next, lightly tease the roots and then place the plant in the hole. Fill the hole back in with soil and press down firmly. Remember to give your plants a good watering once they are planted and keep an eye on moisture levels in the lovely weather we have been having. Do let us tag us in your planting adventures and tell us what wildlife you have encouraged into your garden. Before I planted these, I had only seen one bumblebee in the garden but within a day of planting them, a hoverfly, honeybee and several more bumblebees have visited!
I want to say a huge thank you to our funders, Heritage Lottery Fund, for making this video and all our continued work possible during the lockdown. We at Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership are very fortunate to still be able to reach out to the public to continue to educate, inform and upskill them in natural and built heritage around Lough Neagh.
As we find ourselves stuck at home, we begin to look around us to see what we can improve. How about improving your garden or outdoor space for wildlife? Watch this short video to find out how you can transform even the smallest of outdoor spaces into wildlife friendly areas!
Posted by Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership on Tuesday, 28 April 2020