How Insect Friendly is your Garden?

Environmentally issues at the fore can only lead to an increased awareness of nature and all its beneficial cultures. So we must ask the all important question! How Insect friendly is your Garden and what can we do it improve our often too pristine outdoor spaces?

My nephew, Alfie has just turned five, he is fascinated with bugs, worms and insects, in fact, he will often turn to me in the Garden and say “Uncle Steve aren’t bugs great!” in such a nonchalant manner that I cannot help but smile to myself as he gets back to greedily digging to find worms.

 

Look Uncle Steve “A big fat juicy worm” he’d scream out as I’m neck deep in pruning a large Buddleia in my Sisters garden to make way for native flowers and honeysuckle. You see there’s more to Gardening than just manicured lawns and bedding plants. In -reality our highly hybridised gardens full of tropical colour that on the first inspection is a haven of insects, actually is quite the opposite and we are missing out on a real treat.

“Earthworms are extremely beneficial to your garden soil and plants, increasing air space in the soil and leaving behind worm castings. Encourage worms in your soil by incorporating plenty of organic matter for them to break-down and decompose.”

Overly hybridised bedding plants, double flowers weed free borders are  forcing our insects and wildlife to find alternative food sources. That’s bad news for those of us relying on flying insects, ants and ladybirds to pollinate our fruit and vegetables.

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If you think bees are the only pollinators in trouble then you frankly, widely mislead and perhaps we should all turn to advice from Children like “Alfie” who can often put us all to shame when it comes to nature and well bugs of all shapes and sizes.

Largely lost as we go through adolescence our innocence as a children replaced by desire and drive to succeed and create a family unit of our own. Bet you did not know that Moths also play a critical roll in the garden and favour white flowers that can be easily located at dusk?

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Umbels, Silene and Pinks play and important role for these beneficial insects, pollinating fruit and flowers that then in-turn produces seed an all important production process for self-generation and a food source for birds and many ground feeding insects.

Leaving an area of your garden to grow wild will attract a whole host of insects but better still a well-managed area of your garden set aside for encouraging all types of insect hibernation and nest building, feeding and breeding are crucial to their survival.

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SONY DSC

Imagine the delight on a child’s face like Alfie when finding bugs to explore and learn all about the insects life cycle! I cannot help think that there is no reason we should lose this free inquisitive spirit we were born with. Instead embracing this information and help make our gardens and lively more active and friendlier environment for beneficial insects.

I for one feel it’s time to stop buying unnecessary chemicals, ban products that are proven to do more harm than good to both the ecological survival of bees, butterflies, moths and insects and our own health. To often chemicals are associated with neurological problems, the incurable disease’s that eat away at our immune system surely must be telling us it’s time to ditch the poisons and toxic chemical concoctions that are harming humans and animals alike.

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I recently tested several natural products as winter washes and foliar feeds for plants notoriously associated with chemical dosing. Natural Canola oil based sprays for fruit trees and roses in first signs of bud break and I’m am happily impressed by the results. Too early to call as we head into May and populations of whitefly and Aphids are yet to establish, but in an attempt to control rather than cure, I’m actually looking to limit pest population, not wipe them out completely.

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Loving nothing better than watching ants farm a population of greenfly on an espalier pear, I cannot help think that Ants could teach us a lot about integrated cultural control of pests in our own gardens. Minimising Ant populations with sticky tape around the base of fruit trees will help to reduce the number of greenfly on your garden fruit trees.

Solitary bees largely go un-noticed in our gardens and yet the place such critical role incredible considering many of us would not even realise they are a bee.

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There are of course many products on the market to make encouraging insects into your garden more people friendly, but really are we missing the point cylinder , hanging mason jars, and tree houses for insects may look like we are considering the insects in our garden but the real point is sure to create natural looking habitats that are insect-friendly not commercially harvested timber and plastic, cardboard filled tubes that are only beneficial to the manufacturer, who invests little of none of the profit from sales to the environment.

I believe an environmental tax should be levied on all company’s that continue to manufacture products that are considered unfriendly to the delicate ecological balance. Perhaps then we’d see a much faster shift towards the plant based and natural remedies for pest, disease and even weed control.

 

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About Head Gardener 335 Articles
Award winning, 40 something year old professional plantsman and horticulturalist with National Trust, private parks and estate management background. My vast plant knowledge and hands on techinical experience, afforded me the opportunity to work in various horticultural landscapes, in the UK, USA & Eastern Europe. Having worked in both garden retail & the design service industry gave me the practical diversity and managerial skill set, required for running a large prestigious gardens and stately homes. I strongly believe knowledge is to be shared and have worked closely with people and staff of all ages and abilities keen to develop their passion for gardening, including groups of children, special needs and adults. I have hosted guided walks, talks and tours for those keen to learn about cultivated and wild plants, garden development, history and design. As an member of the NNCPG and National Trust, I am actively involved in the preservation of several important plant collections both in public and private gardens throughout the UK. “It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion grow together, in a garden it’s paradise” Follow @IGrowHort on GardenTags. Stephen is passionate about gardening as Head Gardener with a team of ten staff he manages a prestigious Cheshire country estate of 55 acres, inc wild flower meadows, woodland, organic kitchen and formal gardens. Follow Stephen today”

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