Nectar Cafe at the Cardiff RHS

Last year was our first attempt at a garden at the Cardiff RHS and after enjoying the experience we decided to have another garden this year. This year we decided to focus on the importance of pollinators, because they face so many challenges at this time we felt it important to show how you can help them even in the smallest of spaces.

Sarah Kessell receiving our commendation

Sarah Kessell receiving our commendation photo by PG Hatherley

Taking the idea of a small urban back garden we tried to include as many elements within it as possible. This included a range of plants attractive to a different pollinators, an insect hotel, sunbathing spots for dragonflies (in our rockery), some water in the garden and we even had a skep1 borrowed from a local bee keeper. The plants were very kindly lent to us by local member Dianne Bartholomew, The Works Nursery in Llandeilo and members of staff.

Within in minutes of putting out the plants we had bee flies, hover flies and honey bees visiting the flowers. We certainly got their stamp of approval. We also got the judges’ stamp of approval as we won a surprise commendation for the garden (we didn’t think we had even entered as we are all amateur gardeners).

The garden was graced by the most magnificent butterfly (probably not so suitable for a small urban garden) which was created from willow by the brilliant Out to Learn Willow team, the same team who brought us the willow badger in last years garden.

In the context of the recent battle in the EU to ban certain pesticides containing neonicotinoids it seemed important to highlight how crucial our back gardens are for nature. As the countryside becomes more barren more and more insects (and all the species that benefit from them) are moving into our gardens as we provide a wide range of nectar plants our little plots of land are providing the largest nature reserve in the country when added together.

Some top tips for planting insect friendly plants in your garden:

  • Avoid plants with double or multi-petaled flowers. Such flowers may lack nectar and pollen, or insects may have difficulty in gaining access.
  • Never use pesticides on plants when they are in flower (preferably not at all!).
  • Where appropriate, British wild flowers can be an attractive addition to planting schemes and may help support a wider range of pollinating insects.
  • Observe the plants in your garden. If you know of plants with blooms that regularly attract insects, plant more and let your friends know.
  • Don’t cut all your grass short, allow areas to grow as insects will hide in the base of the grasses, plus you can encourage some lovely meadow flowers to grow in the long grass as well.
  • Always provide some water in your garden, even if you cannot provide a pond, this means everyone can have a drink

Skepis the old sort of bee hive that beekeepers used to use, often weaved out of the stems from corn, this sort of hive did result in the killing of the colony when the bee keeper wanted to collect the honey, a far better method is now used which means that far less bees are harmed in the harvest of the honey.