Plants part 2…The move
Living in our previous tied accommodation had left us with many lovely memories of time spent in the garden, part of these memories was impacted on by the plants we had, and the thought of leaving everything behind could not be entertained. The biggest dilemma for us was the fact that the new garden would be much smaller not to mention unprepared.
Mummy and Caleb enjoying the garden
Our previous garden had been an eclectic mix of acquired plants, themes, areas and purposes because it had had the space not to be more focused, it had a large wildflower meadow, numerous places to sit, even a meandering dry stream I‘d randomly decided to install on acquiring a wooden platform and several bags of shingle. Our move presented us with a choice, our reduced ‘canvas’ required greater care and planning. There simply wasn’t the space to do more than one thing. So what would I concentrate on? It was a simple decision really, I’d been writing the Wildlife Diary for the journal for a few issues so I would focus on plants that encouraged Wildlife. Oh, and the wife’s favourites of course!
The way it was – dry stream
The way it was – seating area
The way it was – wildflower meadow
Potting up and moving on
The absence of prepared borders at our new lodgings demanded that we pot up the plants we wanted to take with us. They would need pots of reasonable size too, as they would have to wait for a suitable new position. Fortunately we had become aware of our move some months before, gaining valuable time to find good sized containers and ample compost. Our inventory included Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’, Echinacea ‘White Swan’ and Echinops ritro that I had grown from seed, buddleia davidii and Zaluzianskia elata cuttings, Digitalis and helebore seedlings, Helianthus multiflorus, Thalictrum aquilegiifolium, Nectaroscordum siculum, Tradescantia, Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora, Nerine bowdenii bulbs that my dad had given me, oriental poppies, bearded iris and Iris sibirica, Vinca minor, Verbena bonariensis, a perennial evening primrose and some Aquilegia.
On the move – plants reach their new home
What makes a plant good for wildlife?
These are all things you know already, but here goes anyway. Flower borders are chiefly attractive to insects although some small birds and mammals will consume fruits and buds, as well as using the under shrub for shelter. Insects aren’t bothered with how pretty a flower is, although petal markings perceivable only to the eyes of some insects do direct them to what they are looking for; food.
Nectar is more likely to be accessible on open flowered plants, plants where the nectaries, stigma and pollen bearing anthers are visible. This is all that is absolutely necessary to attract nectar feeding insects. Evening primrose is a fine example wafting it’s perfume into the evening air to attract pollinating moths, but we can increase our provision considerably. Open flowered plants that have more than one bloom open simultaneously are great providers of nectar. A flower spike or raceme like those of foxgloves or campanula for instance, or an umbel or corymb where the lower flower stalks are longer, presenting the blooms in a flattened plate like manner such as Achillea and Orlaya. Let’s not forget the composites or daisies, they are not a single flower but a multitude of small nectaries surrounded by single enlarged petals, this makes for a very rich supply of nectar and should be widely utilised in a wildlife oriented garden.
Downy plants and grasses capture dew on their foliage, an absolute boon for thirsty invertebrates, although some creatures acquire their fluids from consuming foliage, a burden to bear for the pleasure of encouraging insectivorous birds such as Wrens and Goldcrests.
A real prize to look out for in your area are species specific plants. Here in Suffolk we privileged to attract the Hummingbird Hawkmoth to Salvia sclarea var. turkestanica and Ivy leaved Pelargonium.
Holly Blue Butterfly
Next time; how the garden began to grow and more wildlife necessities.