Whether you struggle to find the time to keep your flowerbeds in perfect shape, you find all your hard gardening work undone by a fortnight’s holiday in the summer, or you just don’t have much of a green thumb; keeping your horticultural delights in perfect condition can be a challenge. Instead of struggling to make your plants last longer than a position at the White House, fill your home with these hard to kill houseplants and enjoy the peace of knowing nothing can go wrong.
When new seeds are starting to sprout, the last thing you want is an infestation of insects. Before you reach for the pesticides though, there is an alternative way to deal with nuisance creatures: Companion planting.
Companion planting is a common method used by biodynamic gardeners to naturally ward off pests while keeping your garden fresh, healthy, organic and beautiful. By simply planting the right flowers near your prize growths you can ensure a pest free garden that, if anything, is even more vibrant and varied! These are five of the most effective plants to use to keep away pests:
How can you grow beautiful houseplants in a clear bottle with no soil and no mess?
It’s called hydroponic gardening, and it’s so simple you’ll wonder why you don’t see more of it. All that’s required is a suitably shaped vessel – one with a wide base and a bottle neck to hold up the plant – and nutrient rich water.
As the weather warms up and new growth appears all over your garden, all kinds of both helpful and harmful insects will also be starting to reappear. Naturally, you will want to get rid of all the harmful ‘beasties’ without putting your family or pets at risk (especially when it comes to getting rid of vegetable pests).
Adding a touch of graceful colour to your garden, butterflies are wonderful to watch – and great plant pollinators. Attracting them to your garden is therefore both helpful and likely to bring a lot of joy. Here are some of the best plants for butterflies.
Butterflies in Britain
Before looking at the best plants for butterflies, let’s consider which species you are likely to see…
Britain has 59 different species of resident butterflies. Another 30 species migrate here either regularly or occasionally from other European countries. Many of these species require highly specialised habitats (coppiced woodland, chalk down-lands, etc.) and are rarely spotted in gardens. Others are common garden visitors. These common visitors include the:
Cabbage White (Large and Small)
Occasional, though much less frequent visitors may include the:
Only the cabbage whites are potential pests, as their caterpillars like to munch on nasturtiums, cabbages and other brassicas.
Best Plants for Butterflies
Adult butterflies take the nectar they feed on from many different garden and wild flowers. You can encourage them to visit your garden by growing suitable flowers all the way from March through to October/November. So, what are the best plants for butterflies?
One of the best plants for butterflies is, of course, Buddleia davidii. Aptly known as ‘Butterfly Bushes’, Buddleias attract many butterfly species – and fill your garden with a delicious scent of honey. Other garden plants great for attracting butterflies include, among many others:
Bee Balm or Bergamot (Monarda didyma)
Caryopteris (Caryopteris x clandonensis)
Common Jasmine (Jasminum officinale)
Dame’s Violet (Hesperis matronalis)
English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
Purple Top (Verbena bonariensis)
Rose Campion (Lychnis coronaria)
Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus)
Weigelia (Weigela florida)
Great wild flowers to start attracting butterflies with include:
Trying to keep your flowers, bushes and trees; lawn and vegetables growing and looking their best without getting eaten or otherwise damaged by garden pests makes killing anything that creeps, crawls or buzzes around your garden a tempting thought. Care is, however, advised and correct garden insects identification before reaching for pesticides is important. Here is why.
Why Correct Garden Insects Identification is Important
The reason why identifying garden insects correctly is so important is simple: not all insects will harm your plants. While some creatures, like aphids, earwigs or slugs, for instance, can wreak havoc on your garden, others are helpful. Lacewing flies (Neuroptera), for example, love munching (voraciously) on aphids, which can significantly reduce the risk of your plants being damaged or infected with diseases by these little horrors. Ladybirds (Coleoptera) also feast on aphids, as well as having a real taste for harmful mealybugs and mites.
Other insects you should try not to kill because they help to kill pests and pollinate your plants include, for instance,
Parasitic wasps (Hymenoptera)
Ground beetles (Coleoptera, carabidae)
Solitary bees (Hymenoptera)
Butterflies and moths are also helpful to have a round your garden.
Garden Insects Identification
Identifying insects can be difficult, as there are so many of them around. Our best advice on correct garden insects identification is simple: if in doubt, check it out before spraying or squashing it!
Dealing with Harmful Insects
If it turns out that you do have a nasty beast or two in your garden, we have just the thing to deal with it in our Plant & Lawn Care section. While you’re there, you might as well have a browse through the rest of our Garden & Outdoor Living range – there’s bound to be something that will help keep your garden looking gorgeous…
Creating a bird friendly garden is quite simple if you are prepared to put in just a little bit of time and effort. Here’s what you need to do.
The first step in creating a bird friendly garden is to set up some feeding areas. Set up some feeding stations so they are approximately 2 metres away from cover to give birds a clear view of what’s happening around them while still being close to somewhere safe to retreat to.
Place hanging feeders somewhere out of the reach of cats (check out these RSPB tips on keeping birds safe from cats, too) and position a few ground-feeding trays (some birds do prefer to eat of the ground) into wide open areas where birds can keep an eye on approaching predators.
Make sure to use quality food and remove any left-overs quickly, as they may otherwise start harbouring diseases. Once you start feeding birds, make sure you keep it up on a regular basis and try to establish a regular feeding routine (preferably providing food at dawn and dusk), as birds will get used to ‘feeding time’ time their visits accordingly.
You may also want to provide a bird bath, which should be out in the open and contain water at least an inch (2.5 cm) of deep.
Put up a bird box or two (or more if you have the space) to encourage birds to return year after year. Bird boxes should be positioned in quiet parts of your garden, well away from feeding areas and at least 1.5 metres above the ground (to make occupants feel safe). Make sure the boxes are not in direct sunlight or locations where bad weather may affect them.
Once your boxes are occupied, make sure they are not disturbed/interfered with by anyone (especially excited young children). Only clean bird boxes once you are sure they are empty between October and January (as directed by the 1981 UK Countryside Act).
If you have the space, time and budget, you may also want to plant bird friendly garden plants. Native plants perfect for attracting birds to your garden by providing shelter, food and nesting places for them include, for instance:
Non-native plants likely to attract birds to your garden include Cotoneaster horizontalis, Sorbus Sheerwater Seedling and Pyracantha Orange Glow; Berberis darwinii and Malus (apple tree).
Finally, there is no better way to watch the birds in your garden than from a comfortable garden bench, so feel free to check out our range of stunning, extremely comfortable garden benches now.
At this time of year gardeners start to plant seeds in the hope of seeing them bloom by springtime. If you’re getting ready to plant your flowerbeds, pots or windowbox; here are a few brilliant gardening hacks that can boost your gardening efforts without costing you a penny.
If you are new to vegetable growing, you may well be wondering what you can safely plant or sow in March. What you can plant in March (or sow, for that matter) depends a great deal on where you intend to sow/plant your vegetables. To make things a little easier, we have split what to plant in March into groups based on location for you.
Balcony Planters and Window Boxes
If you are planning on growing your veggies in balcony planters or window boxes, you can now start sowing:
Cut-and-regrow salad leaves like ‘Dragon’s Tongue’ salad rocket or ‘Provencale Salad Mix’, for instance
Enter the new year with new ideas for your garden. Ensure you stand out and stay in style by planning your horticultural look with inspiration from our top upcoming gardening trends for 2017. Here’s everything you need to know for the year ahead: