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Wildlife Garden Tips for Bees & Butterflies

behind the scenes, inspiration, natureCharlotte BrownComment

Ideas and flower suggestions for making your garden into a haven for bees and butterflies...

Visits to the garden by birds, butterflies, bees, frogs, toads and other animals are special - they are part of nature - and we can get so much pleasure out of encouraging them into our gardens...

Butterflies pattern by Lotti Brown

How still would a garden be, without the soft, buzzing bumble of a bee, as it slowly bobs from flower to flower..? How sterile would our lives be without bird song..? What if we never saw that almost translucent, fairy-like flutter from a butterfly..?

How empty the world would be...

Wildlife gardening isn't all about seriousness and responsibility for nature, though (of course, it can be that too!) - gardening with nature in mind can be fun and attractive!

Bees make the world go round.... kind of!

How to attract Bees and Butterflies to your garden...

Butterflies and bees are both attracted to nectar-rich flowers - and are a beautiful accompaniment to a garden - and so wonderful to watch!

Butterflies and bees enjoy many of the same flowers - any nectar will do, actually, it doesn't have to be a specific kind...

Butterfly on a thistle seed-head

...so wildflower gardens will help create a bee- or butterfly-friendly garden, just as much as cottage gardening, or any other flowery garden styles.

  1. Plant flowers in sunny spots
  2. Plant more 'old-fashioned' and traditional types of flowers - by this I mean 'single', or open-centered, flowers, rather than highly-bred 'double' or 'multi' flowers, which have so many petals that the butterflies and bees can't physically get near the nectar
  3. Avoid pesticides!
  4. Provide water, and moisture, for butterflies and bees to drink
  5. Plant so there are flowers through as long a season as possible. Honey bees are active from late winter, right through to Autumn, so having a garden with flowers throughout the whole season is very useful to bees
  6. To attract bees, plant blues and yellows, white and pastel flowers
  7. To attract butterflies, plant pastel colors - especially purple, pink, lilac and white

Pale blue flowers are particularly attractive to bees

Top Butterfly and Bee Plants

Try some of these and see if the butterflies and bees like them...

  • Buddleya davidii - top plant for butterflies - commonly called the 'Butterfly Bush'. White varieties are thought to be the most attractive to bees.
  •  Lavender (Lavandula)
  •  Hebe
  • Sedum spectabile
  •  Centranthus ruber (Red Valerian)
  •  Mint (Mentha) (below)
 Leave mint to flower, and you will see it's flowers are incredibly attractive to bees

Leave mint to flower, and you will see it's flowers are incredibly attractive to bees

  • Marjoram/Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
  • Lungwort (Pulmonaria)
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • White Dead Nettle (Lamium album)
  • Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) (below)

British bluebells

  • Scabious (Scabiosa)
  • Achillea
  • Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) (considered as 'invasive' in some parts of the USA)
  • Aquilegia
  • Alliums
  • Bugle (Ajuga reptans)
  • Foxglove (Digitalis) (below)

Foxgloves are wonderful for bees

  • Red Campion (Silene dioica)
  • Salvia
  • Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
  • White and Red Clover (Trifolium repens and Trifolium pratense)
  • Lupin (Lupinus)
  • Poppies (all kinds) (below)

Pretty poppy

  • Honeysuckle (Lonicera)
  • Borage (Borago officinalis)
  • Bramble/Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus)
  • Heathers (Calluna, Erica)
  • Delphinium
  • Hollyhock (Alcea rosea)
  • Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
  • Vipers Bugloss (Echium vulgare - a top plant for bumble bees)
  • Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum)
  • Camassia
  • Rowan tree (Sorbus)
  • Cotoneaster
  • Echinachea purpurea
  • Geum
  • Primula veris

Choose single flowered roses, where you can see the centre as the flower opens right out.

  • Roses (Rosa) (Choose single-flowered species)

If you want to look after the butterflies, you'll need to provide a little extra help for caterpillars too:

An undisturbed spot for the chrysalis to over-winter - a 'wildlife corner' with nettles and brambles is a good choice.

Something for the caterpillars to eat:

  • Nettles
  • Brambles
  • Hawthorn
  • Ivy
  • Nasturtium (see below)
  • Verbascum
  • Lady's Smock/Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis)
  • Honesty (Lunaria)
  • Violets
  • Bird's Foot Trefoil

Nasturtium leaves are very tasty for caterpillars

I have some of these flowers in my own tiny garden, and I love it when the bees are busy collecting nectar, and the butterflies are flitting around.

My personal favourite are these Red Valerian (Centranthus ruber) (see below) which the bees and butterflies love, and on very sunny evenings we sometimes see Humming-bird Hawk-moths (which do look just like tiny humming-birds)...

The flowers self-seed wildly though - which I love, the husband not so much!

Red Valerian flowers

Hope you enjoy some bees and butterflies in your garden this summer...

Butterfly Dreams!