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How to encourage butterflies and bees to your garden

Encouraging bumblebees to your garden is an excellent way to encourage more effective pollination of your plants. We show you some easy ways to make your garden more wildlife friendly.

1. Look to plant flowers with a long flowering period to ensure that bees and butterflies continue to visit your garden throughout the season. Alternatively, you could succession plant more short-lived flowering plants every couple of weeks to ensure continuous blooming.

2. Bees like large groupings of flowering plants in a single patch - so try to plant in groups rather than sparingly throughout the garden.

3. Always consider planting a companion flowering plant amongst your vegetables where space allows - a classic example is planting marigolds between tomato plants; they encourage growth of the tomato plant and also ensure that there are always pollinators around the plants that need it. Another example that looks spectacular is Sweet Pea interplanted with Beans.

4. Bees and small insects tend to have trouble drinking from large areas of water like birdbaths and ponds due to the surface tension, so consider adding a "bee-bath" to your garden: fill a saucer with wet sand and sink into the ground around your garden beds. Keep the sand wet.

5. The more richly scented the flower the better as this is a major indicator to pollinators that flowers are nearby. Strongly scented examples are Campanula and Lavender.

6. Flowers with thinner stalks (such as Poppies) move around more in the breeze and thus can be more eye-catching to small insects.

7. Research has found that blue coloured flowers are attractive to bees, so try to plant a couple of blue flowering varieties in your flower beds.

7. Remember that plants grown mainly for herbs, such as Oregano and Thyme often also produce very fragrant flowers that can be very strong attractants to pollinators.

8. Members of the Allium family, such as Bunching Onions and Chives produce very pretty flowers and are great inclusion to the vegetable patch.

9. Often the common name of the plant can give you a good indication of its "bee friendliness" - Buddleia, the Butterfly bush is a great example of this.

10. Where possible, try to use organic ways of keeping pests at bay in your garden as insecticides will also tend to keep away all bugs - including the good ones you wish to keep around.

11. The golden rule for deciding which to plant for your particular area is that the more native and local the species the better - so have a peek over your neighbours fence to see which plants are attracting the most attention from bees and butterflies. Look into planting as many local species of wildflower around rocky and spare areas in your garden.

Check out our lists of Butterfly friendly plants and bee friendly plants for inspiration on plants you could consider planting.

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