Turn Your Garden Into Pollinators' Heaven: The UK Guide

There's little doubt of the immense importance that pollinators bring to your garden. It has always been so, but never more than now. That's because of all the human-caused changes in our environment that are, without a shade of doubt, hugely detrimental to the well-being of our sweet little blue dot. And your garden in particular.

That's why everyone has been crying foul lately — I mean, blimey, even the Pope himself felt the need the pop up in the global discussion and write a rather excellent encyclical dedicated on the environment named “Laudato si” (Medieval Central Italian for “Praise Be to You”).

Truth be told, it's a rather good read for all righteous souls (I'm not Catholic and used to be very anti-church and anti-religion like, so trust me on this one), so I guess you won't waste your time taking a look at it here (in English).

Then again, having a pint or two in the pub sounds like fun as well. Never mind, even when looking at the micro-level state of things — that's our small-ish urban garden — the global trends still play a huge role.

You may be asking for a reason why something so global affects our backyard garden in the City or, well, even properly big garden in countryside UK? Well, it's because of all the invasive plants that we bring to our shores, wildlife in the UK has been on the wane lately. That does include pollinators and does include flowers that attract them.

It's a global issue as well, for everything is inter-connected. Bees and some other pollinators' numbers have been consistently on the decline for some time. Bees in particular play huge role in the food that we produce and eat. Their declining numbers pose an — that's not an overstatement in any way — existential danger to the survival of mankind.

Like many other things, Einstein put it best: “Mankind will not survive the honeybees’ disappearance for more than five years.”

I won't dig too deep into that, but put in a nutshell, the core of the problem is that we are destroying our natural habitat and that affects both plants and pollinators. For more detailed info, I wholeheartedly advise you to visit the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust website and the RHS page explaining why pollinators are on the decline.

So, in order to get on the good side of nature once again, let's take a look at all the plants that pollinators find gorgeous. Besides, I want to emphasize which pollinators do the trick of pollination best. That's the best way to guarantee that your garden will thrive.

Similarly to the challenges facing pollinators today that I briefly discussed above, I won't go into detailed explanations on how to grow plants that pollinators love but merely mention them.

Nevertheless every garden needs good pollination. If you feel the need to get even deeper in-the-know on how to attract pollinators in your garden and which flowers to grow, or simply want to visit a quality gardening website, ask Thames Ditton Gardeners. They will give you a valuable tip or two.

Pollination and Why Is It Important

Because plants can't move around and find someone loveable to mate with, they take their chances with the pollinators. These noble creatures, namely bees, beetles, butterflies, hoverflies and the likes plus some birds spread the pollen from one place to another, thus helping with the fertilization process.

Winds come in handy too, but insects carry the majority of the pollen weight and not necessarily because of noble intentions.

Pollinating Plants

For UK-based gardeners, I would say that the Royal Horticultural Society has created a rather full list of plants to grow if you really want to create a pollinators-friendly garden. You can find the pollinator attracting plants list here.

But long lists aside, basically you can't go wrong with any native UK plant. They are, naturally, really attractive to pollinators, because they have evolved in such a way as to offer everything that native pollinators need. Such plants create the right environment for the wildlife to enjoy with abundant amounts of food, nectar and pollen.

Pollinators-Friendly Garden Doesn't Equal Scruffy-Looking Garden

At the end of the day, the stats say that almost half of the food that we produce is thanks to the pollinators. As much as 80% of the flowers are here to be enjoyed by us and beautify our lives because of the pollinators.

Pollinators breed diversity and make our garden lovelier.

Cut the Use of Pesticides

It's fair to say that the number one enemy of the pollinators on local level (i.e. your garden) is pesticides. They are often deadly for the beneficial pollinators. Besides, they may wipe out valuable weeds that are part of every working pollinator's good diet.

Another thing is when we don't put lots of plants together, since a single plant is not very attractive and won't get lots of pollinators lined-up.

Pollinators to Attract

As well as the above-mentioned bees, who love marigold and daisy, to name but two flowers, no list of major pollinators in the garden will be full without butterflies, wasps and... hoverflies.

Starting with butterflies, it's important to know that they find red, orange, blue, yellow and pink flowers the most attractive. Wasps are, although deservedly, not held in a regard as high as bees, still do some pollination work.

Pollen wasps in particular may do an excellent job with that.

Finally, an often underestimated option are... hoverflies. With bees population dramatically declining, hoverflies may be a temporary substitute until bees start regaining their strength in numbers again.

Most people can't tell bees and hoverflies apart. The same rings true for wasps and hoverflies. The problem is exaggerated by hoverflies' habit to fake bees' natural defensive mechanisms, like buzzing menacingly or even pretending to sting. Don't worry, they don't.

What's true though is that the majority of the nearly 300 species that exist in the UK are really able pollinators that take care of the pollen business and eat nectar.

You can tell them apart from bees because they have a single pair of wings, larger eyes and are rather faster and more mobile in the air.

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