More insects are on your side, than not. There’s an army of beneficial insects willing to help your cause, should you wish it. Parasitic wasps, hoverflies (pictured), bees, bumble bees and ladybirds, praying mantis, spiders, dragonflies, assassin bugs, lacewings, various beetles, frogs and earwigs. They’ll manage pests, pollination and recycling of debris in return for a safe haven and a year’s supply of food. Take your pest management to new heights by learning who they are and how they roll.
Make a Home
- Densely planted perennial/ native areas that are largely undisturbed provide the perfect home.
- Leave bits of log/ wood tucked beneath trees/ shrubs to house bumblebees etc, a good use for bigger prunings, and also natures slow release fertiliser!
- Don’t spray chemicals or non selective/ on contact killers like pyrethrum.
- Water is important – especially for bees. You don’t need fancy pumps and statues, a bowl or bird bath will do.
Nectar eaters and pollen gatherers need tiny, open flowers. Modern varieties are often lacking in nectar and pollen, so choose heirloom/ wild flowers. A year’s supply will keep them at your place (when the food runs out, so will they). Watch and see which flowers are the most beloved in your garden. I love how it’s the humble ones like flowering broccoli, coriander or thyme.
- flowering umbelliferae – coriander, parsnip, parsley, carrot, celery, dill, caraway, queen annes lace, bishops flower
- flowering clover (the added benefit of protection for overwintering insects and nitrogen fixation), vetch, lucerne, lupin
- flowering brassicas – broccoli, mustard, radish, rocket
- some helpful natives – hebes, olearias, pittosporums, carpodetus, hoheria
- weeds like dandelion, yarrow and hawkbit are much beloved – let your lawn be wild!
Feeding the Beneficials Year Round
My Favourite Perennials
There are loads to choose from, these here are my favourites (the more activity I see, the more I adore the flower!)
• Summer Flowering
Lavender, Echinacea, Golden Rod, Rudbeckia, Thyme, Marjoram, Oregano, Shasta Daisies, Bergamot, Yarrow, Lemon Balm, Buddleia, Anise Hyssop, Salvia, Comfrey
• Autumn Flowering
Sedum, Caryopteris, Rudbeckia, Thyme, Marjoram, Oregano, Sage, Yarrow, Lemon Balm, Anise Hyssop, Salvia, Echinops, Chicory
• Winter Flowering
Hellebores, Wallflowers, Rosemary, Sage, Hebe, Pineapple Sage, Clematis, Anise Hyssop
• Spring Flowering
California Lilac, Lavender, Hellebore, Wallflower, Poppies, Sweet William, Dianthus, Flax, Bergamot, Yarrow, Clematis, Anise Hyssop, Manuka
My Favourite Annuals
- Borage, Phacelia, Calendula, Marigold, Cosmos, Buckwheat, Poppies, Chamomile, Cornflower, Nasturtium, Alyssum, Verbena Bonaresis
Borage and Phacelia are high in nectar and refill quickly, making them the perfect fit amongst fruit trees and vegies. They self seed readily – you only need to sow them once, and they’ll flower nearly all year from a succession of self sown plants.