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27 July 2015

The Top Ten Plants to Attract Wildlife to Your Garden

If you want to attract wildlife to your garden, it stands to reason that you must have the right plants. The ten plants most frequently recommended to attract birds, bees, butterflies etc., according to one of the RHS's wildlife experts, are as follows

Foxglove Digitalis This is a classic cottage garden plant, flowering between June and September and loved by bumblebees. Please note that foxgloves are poisonous if eaten by humans or pets.

Sunflower Helianthus Instantly recognisable, the colourful heads provide a burst of sunshine in the summer and seeds for birds when the season changes. You are best to avoid the heavy double forms which feature in Van Gogh's famous painting as the extra petals mean there's less pollen available for our pollinators.

Honeysuckle Lonicera Honeysuckle will attract lots of nectar-loving visitors throughout the summer months, including the hummingbird hawk moth, while birds such as thrushes and warblers enjoy the berries. It is also an attractive climber for a fence or pergola.

Lavender Lavendula The calming scent of lavender on a sunny patio is a magnet for bees and butterflies. Birds benefit too as they can feed when the purple blooms go to seed.

Firethorn Pyracantha This is an attractive evergreen shrub with red or orange berries, and is often grown as a hedge or against a fence. It provides food and shelter for birds, and also nectar for other visitors. I have them planted against two fences in my garden and can recommend them.

Purple loosestrife Lythrum salicaria This pink wildflower thrives in damper soil and boggy conditions - ideal if you have a moist patch in your garden. Flowering from June until the end of August, it provides an important nectar source for long tongued insects including eye-catching red-tailed bumblebees and elephant hawk-moths.

Thyme Thymus This herb provides excellent ground cover in gravel gardens, creating safe spaces for beetles and other invertebrates, while it's nectar is also a favourite of bees.

Ice plant Sedum spectabile These plants provide nectar later in the season and are highly-attractive to hoverflies, bees and butterflies. They are also a useful plant for the garden, flowering from late summer and through autumn.

Barberry Berberis An attractive addition to a border, berberis come in a number of varieties, both evergreen and deciduous, and provide nectar for butterflies and moths plus shelter for their caterpillars. They also provide protection for birds.

Rowan Sorbus aucuparia This deciduous rowan or mountain ash is very popular with the thrush family due to its red autumn berries, and is a good choice of tree for a small to medium garden.

You may not have the space or the right conditions for all of the above, but try to squeeze one or two in to make your garden more attractive to wildlife if you can.
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