Alan Titchmarsh is calling on all gardeners to unite to create a refuge for struggling butterflies, moths and other pollinators this summer. Join us in your garden – and online.
The future of our butterflies, moths and other pollinating insects is under threat,” warns Mr Titchmarsh, vice-president of Butterfly Conservation.
The cold start to spring may affect how some butterflies fare this year, as they could have less time to feed and breed. But you can help by creating some ‘plots for pollinators’.
“So many flowers are great nectar sources,” adds the local star, “such as catmint, cosmos or calendula. You could attract butterflies such as my favourite, the Red Admiral,” adds Mr Titchmarsh. “[Your square metre] doesn’t have to be on the lawn – you could create a vertical garden on an unused wall or fence.”
The project encourages you to set aside one square metre to plant a nectar-rich flowerbed or a colourful container garden over the summer.
Pollinating insects fertilise many crops, as well as other plants, trees and wild flowers. Gardens can act as vital refuges for pollinators, which are increasingly under threat from habitat loss, agricultural intensification and climate change. Previously widespread species, such as the Small Tortoiseshell and Garden Tiger Moth, have seen numbers plummet in recent years.
Titchmarsh’s Top Tips
Measure one square metre of outdoor space as a plot of pollinators and fill it with open-flowered, nectar-rich plants. Choose a sunny, sheltered position and group pots on a patio, grow up a fence or wall, or pick a flowerbed patch.
Water your plot regularly – ideally from a water butt which is more eco-friendly. Water soil not the plant; larger leaves can act as an umbrella shielding roots! Remove your watering can’s rose to get nearer the plant base if necessary.
Put a layer of mulch on the surface of the soil around the plants to help prevent water evaporation and suppress weed growth.
Always choose peat-free compost and cut down on plastic. Use recyclable and recycled containers or be creative and turn tins and tubs into pots, drilling drainage holes in the bottom.
Dead-head after flowering for more blooms.
Inspire your neighbours to plant a plot to create a flowery super highway.
Avoid harmful pesticides by removing slugs and snails by hand instead. Night is the best time.