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I have just been reading MDs article on why we should plant natives as they are more beneficial to insects. Whilst I do like to grow quite a few natives, the plants I have hd the most insects on this year have been; Cirsium rivulare and Knautia macedonia neither of which are native.
I would be interested to know what others think.
the native plants are the food plants for the larvae of the native insects doc.
The answer is a good mix. If you stuck just to native plants, the garden would be a much poorer place. Britiain is very low in the number of native plants compared to other parts of Europe.
The plant which always amazes me is Lonicera alseuosmoides, an evergreen climbing type. The flowers are nothing much to look at and as far as I can discern, scent-free, yet I have just counted over 300 bees of all kinds all over it. Far and away more than there is on L. peryclimen the native Honeysuckle.
There have been lots of bees in the garden this year and they are feeding on just about everything. Not convinced about "native" plants at all. There is just too much analysis on life today....too many theories, judgements and "expert" preaching. I have all sorts of wildlife here, despite having a walled garden, including hedgehogs, foxes, frogs, toads, ladybirds, birds of all descriptions. I have a nectar rich environment from plants from all over the world. I have not concreted, hard landscaped, decked or constructed over it. I believe it is good for human and wild life
I haven't read the article yet, unfortunately. If it talks about food plants, does it mean food plants for the larval/nymph stage of insects or for the adult stage? I think native insects would prefer native plants when they are larvae but I don't really think they would be too picky when it comes to flowers producing nectar, unless the flower is so extreme in its form that they can't reach the nectar.
Two thirds of my garden is wildflower meadow and it is bordered on two sides by huge clumps of 2-metre high nettles and fields cropped by sheep. Plenty of native plants around, but remarkably few butterflies and moths. Except for this afternoon when I was escorted down to the compost heap by six Small Tortoiseshells that fluttered round me for several minutes. Other than that, just the usual hordes of Small Cabbage Whites, a couple of Commas, a handful of Meadow Browns and one Red Admiral.
Other insect life is often more interesting. Burying beetles are quite common here. And crickets/grasshoppers.
Waterbutts. I must confess a lack of knowledge of wildlife. Etc. I live just a few hundred yards from a Cornwall Heritage site.....Towans, dunes, plants that grow there and nowhere else and I have always promised myself a food book on wild fauna and flora. Maybe I should participate in one of the many organised educational walks and tours there.
Here in the Peak District we are lucky to have free walks every week organised by the park rangers. They talk as we walk and cover subjects from birds to local history with everything in between. One of the most memorable walks I joined was a night time walk to look for newts in the local dewponds - they are man-made concrete lined circular pits and very steep sided. It was pitch black, we were all listening intently to the ranger telling us about the common newt, when there was a strangled cry from the other side of the pond. A man had taken a step too far and slipped into the stagnant water up to his knees. Twenty flash lights were turned on and focussed on the poor fella like something from Stalag Luft III....
Yes, if you have anything similar, I can recommend it.
Regarding wildlife - I think if we all do a little it helps a lot.
It's a simple philosophy but I reckon it does the job.
I think just growing natives is a bit precious and very boring in the UK. It's going to look like a bed of weeds with a short flowering season and not much other interest for most of the year. I don't really like prairie style planting but I feel that does at least offer more variety of form, texture and colour for longer.
My garden is a mix of European natives and plants from other parts of the world. There's no shortage of nectar available and I have a pond, an insect hotel, log piles and bird feeders plus a good range of trees, shrubs and perennials to provide food and shelter all year round for all sorts of wildlife. The place is buzzing.
Sometimes one has little choice but to hand over half the garden to native plants. Our garden is at a 30 to 40 degree angle to the horizontal, over fifty metres from top to toe and mostly on rubbish soil. Plus we are both drawing our pensions - even the walk to the compost heap has to be saved up until there's enough to make the effort worthwhile. As an elderly Groucho Marx one said when tying his shoelaces "Is there anything else I can do while I'm down here?
I guess a large part of my garden has plants from south Africa, Mexico, Australia and new Zealand. I agree that many native plants lack that zest and wow factor
Thank you Waterbutts... my philosophy to a "T"...
Verd., are you not fed up with those that pontificate without a shred of evidence to back up their claims. If they had to bet their pensions on the outcomes I think they might keep quiet. However they have to keep their names in lights lest we all cease to be in awe of them. Come back Titchmarsh.. all is forgiven.