Category Archives: Creating a more interesting garden – easily

Does your Garden Taste Good?

Does your Garden Taste Good?

And why this matters.

 

Sitting in a garden in Summer watching bees buzz and butterflies flutter is one of life’s great pleasures. Not only is it a pleasure for us to watch (unless you are melissophobic or lepidopterophobic of course!), it is also hugely beneficial to all those insects too!

 

Bees have to work really hard to find a little nectar, so imagine their delight at flying into a garden that is jam packed with nectar rich flowers.

 

Sadly, all too often gardens are filled with the more spectacularly coloured modern flowers that are devoid of nectar.

 

Just imagine the bee, having flown into this incredible spectacle of colour, and finding there is nothing to eat. It’s a bit like walking into a supermarket and finding everything there is either an empty box or a plastic vegetable!

 

butterfly campaign

 

Time for a soapbox moment:

 

  • Gardens aren’t just for use to admire – they are vital sources of food

    and shelter for all our native wildlife.

     

  • Flowers did not evolve for humans to enjoy, but most modern flowers are only designed for humans to enjoy. 

 

  • Bee use UV light to find flowers – if they can’t see them they won’t find them.  (flowers in UV look amazing & utterly different)

 

  • Butterflies taste with their feet – so how good do modern plants taste to a butterfly? 

 

  • Many modern flower hybrids contain little or no nectar to feed insects – it has been bred out (in it’s place, brighter colours and more petals). 

 

What is the point of a flower that cannot do what a flower is supposed to do?

 

At PlantPlots, we firmly believe that gardens should look beautiful, but not at the expense of our native wildlife. Before you head off to the garden centre this spring, please pause for a moment. Ask yourself, is the flower useful and pretty or is it just a pretty face?

 

We are not advocating that everyone stops buying bedding plants nor indeed boycotts hybrids or highly developed flowers. Instead we are asking that you limit their numbers in your garden.

 

If 80% of the plants in your garden were nectar rich and easy for bees and butterflies to feed from, there would be plenty of food.  It would not matter what the remaining 20% consisted of!

 

PlantPlots is a new online garden design service with a twist. We provide lots of design recipes for great ‘tasting’ garden borders that are both beautiful AND beneficial. All are available to download.

 

Now obviously we have posted this article to encourage you to look through our designs (and hopefully buy one..or two!). But even if you are not interested in shopping, we hope you might consider butterflies and bees more when you go out plant buying this year.

 

After all – who are flowers really for?

 

butterfly taste 13

Bee Friendly Gardens

Bee Friendly Gardens are absolutely vital – read on to see if yours is up to the mark and what to do if it’s not!

 

bee-blog

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”  Albert Einstein

 

That’s a scary statement – but it’s pretty much true.

 

So we really need to help maintain the bee populations globally.

Although we can’t quickly influence government policy on the use of pesticides or convince supporters of GM crops and super intensive farming methods to take a more environmentally sensitive view just yet, you can still do your bit to help.

 

The flowers and plants in your garden – how many of them can the bees feed from – easily?

 

dahlia cutout  Gaillardia_fanfare_centered       bee friendly_edited-1

Avoid highly overbred flowers, they are usually sterile and have little or no nectar.

Flowers that are created by plant breeders for human satisfaction rarely (if at all) help feed beneficial insects  in your garden. You might as well fill the garden with plastic flowers – they’re just as useless! 

I planted these this year – red pelargoniums, because they looked pretty…but that’s all they did – look pretty.

Not one insect landed there, fed from them or even noticed them!

 

So what do you need to do:

 

Don’t keep spraying stuff!  – sprays kill everything, it isn’t selective about what it kills. Does it really matter that much, if there are a few holes in petals or leaves? 

 

borage flower crop

Choose flowers that are more natural looking  – so nice open petals and more natural looking colour combinations.

 

Make sure something is in flower all year round – There are lots of flowers that provide food for insects in winter, click here for a list

 

Lastly but most importantly – don’t just regard the garden as an ‘outside room’, think of it also as ‘their home’. You will find you tend to be more tolerant of Nature and you will begin to enjoy the little world you have outside more.

 

Oh and if you don’t believe there is a crisis in the bee population, have a read, I know it is an American article, but much of it is true for here to.

At PlantPlots, we chose all the plants we use in our border designs carefully, we try to use plants that are not only lower maintenance and fairly disease resistant, but that are also good sources of nectar. So it’s a win win, you get beautiful border designs and the insects will love coming to visit to.

V3 real gardeners and spray  

We’ve more articles to read to; All on creating a more insect friendly and bio-diverse garden.

How ‘Green’ are Bedding Plants?

Who are flowers really for?

Which Flowers are best for bees,

Gardens are for Life, not just for Show

What about the Bugs?

What does your front garden say about you?

What does your front garden say about you – 

more importantly does it say what you want it to say?

 

front-garden-talking

 

We believe that everyone can have a lovely front garden even if you can’t afford to spend very much. We have always tried to show you how you can achieve a gorgeous garden with only a small amount of effort and having only spent what you can easily afford.

Here is a typical modern front garden, a little unloved maybe, but maybe that’s because the owner doesn’t know what to do with it – so it’s just left as grass.dull shady front

Not very homely though is it, and it can be so much nicer.

Incidentally, an attractive front garden not only makes you feel better when you come home, it can also add value to your house – so it is really worth making a little effort.

Tips to remember:

 

  • Don’t have prickly or spiky plants!
  • Don’t have fast growing climbers around entrances (unless you love pruning).
  • Consider permeable paving under the car to help prevent flash flooding.
  • If the space is small – ditch the lawn, it will rarely look fantastic.
  • Use tall pots for planting – they are less likely to trip over at night!
  • Tall pots also raise the plants to right under your nose – so use plenty of scented plants to cheer you up when you get home.
  • Use the colour of the house and front door to choose your colour theme.
  • If you plant shrubs, make sure they are interesting all year round.
  • Use bulbs to change the ‘mood’ over the seasons.
  • Be a bit different, make your ‘front’ a trend setter!
  • Use fairy lights or solar lights – they are a lot more welcoming than a security light!
  • Scent, scent and more scent….unless you are a hayfever sufferer.
  • Pottering in the front garden is a great way to start to chat to the neighbours.

 

This weekend, step out the front and look back to your door and just ask – what does this garden say about me?

Blue flowers

Gardening is not difficult, but if you don’t know much about plants it is difficult to know where to begin. That’s where we can help, we have loads of designs for front gardens (and back ones too) so why don’t you get a little inspiration and make a statement in your front garden.

New-product-page-design-1-3

Garden Problems – Misbehaving Gardens!

Garden Problems: Is your garden misbehaving itself and how can you sort it out?

 

misbehaving garden

Much as we’d all love one of these….

 

White show garden

Most of us usually end up with something more like this…

peoples-gardens-55

So what can you do to get your garden behaving itself?

We all have garden problems, even Monty Don and Alan Titchmarsh will have had many, but not getting on top of those garden problems will usually mean they start to get on top of you instead.

We all see these glossy images of the most beautiful and bountiful gardens and it’s hard not to feel somewhat disappointed when looking at your own back garden/jungle and wonder whether you can ever really get something that looks (and stays) looking good all year without the expert designers or full time gardeners on hand.

Well of course you can.

The key to a lovely garden that works for you, is how good you are a ‘refereeing’, what sort of team you have on the pitch to start with and how well you understand the rules!

Gardening is a process, there is no start or finish to a garden, it is a living breathing entity, so plants will die and others will try to take over, you need to make sure you know how to remain in charge!

Read our guides to ‘righting the wrongs’ in your garden.

flops  taking over  thriving  uninspiring

Or for a little extra helping hand …you can ‘cheat’ and buy one of our lovely ready made border designs instead – that way you know it will all work – hurrah!

 

happier gardens