A common misconception often heard about gardening to help wildlife is that there isn’t much traditional colour and excitement for the human user of the garden. But this is not the case and many gardens dedicated to wildlife that I have seen on our judging gardens for the Dorset Wildlife Trust Wildlife Gardening competition would also win prizes in conventional gardening competitions.
Take this month’s suggested plants from the Get Dorset Buzzing campaign. They include the wonderful feathery foliaged Cosmos. These tall large flowered bedding plants are a delight either in pots or in the border and with a wide range of colours, really brighten up an area. The variety chosen is the Sonata range which are more compact than the normal at around 30 cm.
Also on the list are single flowered Fuchsia. The single flowered doesn’t mean you get just the one but refers to a simple structure of the flower allowing insects easy access to get to their food and at the same time help with pollination. A double flower is often too blousy and physically difficult for the insect to access. Many Fuchsias aren’t hardy and are used for bedding displays but they are also some excellent types that can be grown in the garden and left out the whole year round. These include the dainty Tom Thumb, the much larger Riccartonii and one of my favourites Genii with golden foliage which set off the purple and red flowers nicely.
Scaevola or Fan Flower is a delight for hanging baskets and tubs, it comes in pink, blues and whites and has an interesting looking flower as the common name suggests. Often used as a trailer over the edge of tubs and hanging baskets it is a prolific flowerer and much loved by insects too.
The flowers on Penstemon looked like they have been designed to be accommodating for insects with their tubular straightforward construction. The range of colours is wonderful and I particularly like the darker shades including Raven which dark burgundy but I also like the blues such as Heavenly Blue which describes itself really!
And finally, Lavender is a must in any garden especially if its hot and sunny. A lavender in full bloom just brings joy especially when closer inspection reveals how much insect life will be enjoying it too.