The flower border
Plenty of birds, plus hedgehogs will peck around in the flower border,
either after worms and other creepy-crawlies in the soil, or insects
in and around the plants, or the plants and their seeds themselves.
Butterflies and insects too will be attracted, not only by the flowers
but to feed on the green vegetation.
Recommended plants for butterflies:
- For the adult butterflies, the key is to provide flowers that provide
plenty of nectar. There are plenty of non-native garden flowers that
do this just as well as native flowers, but the flowers to avoid are
usually those cultivars which have been bred for big showy flowers
with masses of petals which is usually at the expense of nectar. Good
nectar flowers include hemp agrimony, sedum, marjoram, lavendar, valerian,
knapweeds, scabious and cirsium thistles. The campions are a great
source of nectar for night-flying moths, as is rosebay willowherb.
- Butterfly caterpillars often rely on a very restricted range of
plants to feed on. Many actually feed on meadow grasses, but other
favoured plants for certain species include sorrel (small copper),
nettles (peacock, comma, small tortoiseshell), Ladysmock and Garlic
Mustard, plus Honesty (orange tip), violets (various species), birds
foot trefoil (common blue). Moth caterpillars can also be similarly
specific in their choice of foodplant, although some are more generalist
and feed on many garden flowers.
Recommended plants for birds:
Many plants produce seeds which are eagerly taken by birds. However,
the gardeners instinct is to dead-head the flower before it has
gone to seed. In the wildlife garden, leave seedheads to develop where
and when possible.
Good plants, which can include more showy garden cultivars of wild species,
- Cornflower, evening primrose, forget-me-not, sunflower, teasel,
thistle species, burdock, wallflowers, plus the seeds of many common
weeds such as nettle, goosefoot family, chickweeds, coltsfoot, dandelion,
groundsel and sow thistle.
- For more exotic bird food, try red hot poker, the nectar of which
is favoured by great spotted woodpeckers and sparrows. And sage leaves
are liked by sparrows to be taken back to the nest as natural insect-repellent.
- Of course, any plant that is good for insects and their larvae/caterpillars
is a good plant for birds. Much of wildlife gardening is about growing
the right plants to grow insects to grow birds.
Recommended plants for insects:
Some plants dont attract butterflies but specialize in attracting
other insects such as bumblebees. The campions are a great source of
nectar for night-flying moths, as is rosebay willowherb. The white umbels
of hogweed, angelica and wild carrot attracts hundreds of insects. Ivy
and bramble are excellent.
'Information supplied by RSPB, August 2002'