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Hi there,

I have recently brought my first house and I am lucky enough to have a substantially sized back garden. It has a long stretch of lawn with a flower bed down one side, which I have recently deweeded. In spring I intend to fill the border with plants which I hope will be perfect for attracting bees, butterflies and any other insects.

So my question is, what would be good to plant? I've very new to this whole gardening thing and I doubt I'll have a chance to plant anything before winter (as I need to sort the house out first). Any tips or recommendations would be really appreciated.


Hi Romana, before anyone can help you'd have to give us some idea of soil type, which way does border face, what sort of plants do you want - shrubs/perennials/bedding or a mixture.  Give us a starting point and I'm sure youll get loads of ideas 

Of course
The garden is south-facing. So the bed will be in good sunlight through spring/summer. The only shade it will get would be in the morning whilst the sun moves round the front of the house. We had a hard time breaking the soil up when we moved in....was quite clay like but that may have been from the sun drying it out. I turn it over quite regularly now andits always full of bugs and earthworms (if that helps!)

I dont really mind what I plant,anything with some colour would be a bonus.

Hiya Romana

Two more things first

Test your soil.  Get a (it's very cheap) soil test kit ...measures PH of the soil.  It tests whether your soil is acid or alkaline.  This really is very important as it determines what you can and can't grow.

Second, does your soil drain well or does it hold pools of water?


.........oh, romana....welcome to,the forum 

Jim Macd

Have a look at these for loads of ideas on things to sow for wildlife. You can sow most things in spring, one or two won't germinate until they've had a winter but most will be fine for spring. You will need to prepare a seed bed though. Don't waste time and money by sowing on to grass you'll lose over 99% of your seed if you do. Good luck.


Gardening is such a big subject, I think it would be helpfull if you bought a book and during winter look up on Google all the flowers you like the look of and how to grow them. After a bit you won't be a new gardener any more!

In th meantime have a look at these -    geraniums (the perennial sort), veronica, salvias, campanulas, geums, phlox, michaelmas daisies, penstemons, aquilegia, erysimum, oriental poppies, delphiniums (watch for slugs!). They are all perennials. Filling a garden with perennials all at once can be expensive so you can sow hardy annuals in between, such as nigella, calendula, californian poppies. Beg from people with gardens!

Go to your garden centre in Spring and summer and see what you like the look of then go home and look it up.

Good luck!


Of course, first thing is to prepare your soil. If it is clay it would help to dig in lots of compost and well rotted manure, if you can get it.

Huya romanalungbarrow......again, another brilliant name!

Please test your soil first.  It's very easy.  Soil sounds very fertile judging by your description.

I would put in just a couple of nice shrubs.....these are dependent on what your soil test tells you.  Plus some bulbs...daffodils, tulips, hyacinths.  You can move these later if you need to in the spring.  Also a few bare root wallflowers.  All for colour now and spring.  

Busy-lizzie's advice about a good garden book is perfect.  Use the winter to read up on plants and keep an open mind.  However, understand your soil conditions and situation and grow plants that will suit them.  Don't try and grow things that won't like your conditions.   And talk to your neighbours ESP those tending their gardens and ESP those with nice gardens.  Ask their they will give you some plants and tell you where and how to grow them.  As with everything, gardening is a learning curve but it's fun all the way 

hollie hock

I'd definatley go for some spring bulbs, there's loads on sale now and they are relatively cheap. Some of them provide an early source of nectar for bees and insects,crocus, grape hyacinths, daffs etc  planted now will give you some colour in the spring. The best thing with crocus and grape hyacinths and the like is that over time they multiple and you can add to them as you go


Jim Macd

I am assuming you're talking about to benefit wildlife since you're posting in this section?

Urban Wildlife
Try buddlia also known as the butterfly bush. Sedum spectablie is good bet as well.

I have a complete mixture of flowers for all times of year and my garden has been full of bees and butterflies, but some flowers are better than others.

Here is a list from the RHS of flowers for bees, it has bulbs on it too. A lot of the flowers in my garden and many in my list above are on the RHS list.

Wild life or not category, plant some agastaches next year romana.  I grow several varieties and bees, butterflies all mass on them.  They are called the hummingbird plant in USA.  Scemted foliage and flowers along the entire srems all summer long. 


Jim Macd

 Don't forget there's more to wildlife then pollinaters.

Urban Wildlife

Berrying shrubs hawthorn, phyracantha, seed plants such as teasles, echinops and sunflowers , Really best bet is a balance of plant types across the seasons which suit the size, aspect, shade  and soil type/acidity of your garden. Start slowly and build up as you go  on. Sow loads of annuals for next spring going mainly for plants with open flat blooms . Study the seed catalogues most give you plant sizes, season and if they attract pollinators. Build on this by adding perennials which grom well in your area Have a nosy in other peoples gardens and see what grows well.

Good luck and have fun



A mummy hare had 4 babies in my big herbaceous border a few years ago! And the deer ate all my roses. Is that what you mean, Jim? Oh, and a badger died in the lean-to, but from the look of it I think it was old age.

now's a good time of year to get cheap perennials - join the crowds of canny GW forum members hanging around the "plant rescue" stands at garden centres and look for things like Pulmonaria, hardy geraniums and so on. They can cost a lot of money when in full flower, but now they are dying back and getting ready to hibernate and garden centres sell them off to clear space. I buy most of my perennials like that to keep the cost down. Check that there is a healthy root system and don't worry too much about what the leaves look like. You might also be able to get several plants out of one pot - if there are several crowns you can divide  them up and plant the divisions and you'll get even more plants.

I recommend Pulmonaria - there are lots of different varieties, but I grow Trevi Fountains in my shady border and Raspberry Splash in the sunnier border. They flower very early and bees adore them, then when the flowers go over, you have very attractive foliage.

Check the plants are hardy perennials though - I have seen dying annuals and biennials for sale, and these are just good for the compost heap!

Good luck! you'll get hooked in no time


Urban Wildlife

Got to agree with Ginglygangly some great bargins in the discount clear out bed. Do watch out for one which appear to have multiple crons even better value. Check for slugs and vine weevils ther bargain plants don't get looked after as well as they could.