Bees and butterflies are in decline in the UK, but both insects are important to gardeners like our co-owner and chef John, who grows lots of the fruit and veggies we serve up here, as they help to pollinate plants.
By planting some of their favourite flowers we can all help attract and feed these wonderful insects.
In order to attract a number of bees and butterflies, you should plant a range of flowers that bloom at different times, ideally from February to October. It doesn’t matter whether you have a large or small plot because even a small area planted with the right flowers will be beneficial to both insects.
Plants to attract butterflies:
Early flowers, such as aubretia and primroses, are particularly useful for feeding butterflies that come out of hibernation in spring. During April and May, honesty and sweet rocket are good choices. Nettles are another popular choice, particularly for Red Admirals and Peacock butterflies. If you plant the nettles in a pot it should prevent them from spreading and causing a nuisance.
Buddleia, otherwise known as the butterfly bush, is great at attracting the insect throughout the summer months. Lavender, red valerian and thyme are midsummer varieties and will attract many insects. Adult butterflies are dependent on nectar, but caterpillars prefer to eat plants, leaving an area of longer grass or wildflowers will provide food for them.
Michaelmas daisies, the last of the summer bedding petunias and goldenrod can give butterflies a last chance to stock up with nectar before hibernating.
Plants to attract bees:
Comfrey is a common wildflower and is loved by bees. It will grow in most areas, but prefers damp places. Red and white clover is another good choice and is also popular with rare bee species as well as common ones. It is best planted in a border or meadow area.
Greater knapweed produces large purple flowers and attracts both bees and butterflies. Some types of bumblebees have long tongues, which mean they are attracted to certain flowers, such as honeysuckle and foxgloves.
Lavender is another favourite for bees as they are attracted to its colour and we’re pleased to say we have plenty of this in our garden here.