How can I attract wildlife into my garden?

I have a new house with quite a large garden. I am a keen gardener but dont know much about trees and shrubs. My main interest has always been vegetables.

I want to encourage wildkife into my garden such as birds, butterflies, bees, moths etc and wondered what type of flowers, trees and shrubs would likely attract these creatures.

I know that the budlia bush attracts butterflies and golden rod attracts bees and butterflies but thats about the max of my knowledge.

I would like to plant some traditional hedgerow trees and bushes and in front of this sow some wild meadow seeds but some advice on what types would be much appreciated.

Many thanks

Answer #1

Kiasu, hmmm. I’m just thinking… it’s a challenge growing perennials from seed. They tend to start out very small and might not give you flowers for a couple of years. There are a few that might give you flowers the same year but generally, perennials are best bought as small plants up to a 1 litre pot. I start a lot from 4 or 6 inch pots and still have to wait a year before they get established enough to flower.

If you can successfully grow them from seed, its certainly a lot cheaper. Just a longer wait. Do you know any people with big gardens? Every spring they usually divide plants that are getting too big and are more than happy to give away rather than composting the extra plants they end up with.

If you still like the idea of seeds, you might want to consider leaving it to annuals, which can be sown into the ground after frost and give you flowers continously from May to October.

Oh yes… gardening is hard work, you’re right. I can go and go all day, digging and pulling, but hubby and his back problems, forget it. He’s no good to me out there any more!

Yes, you can add compost later on. As long as your clay has been somewhat modified and you can dig into it. LOL yes your compost bin might have too much wet. If you put grass clippings in there, make sure you dry them out first, same with leaves.

Hahaha, I doubt your old army mates are on here! But what the heck. My dad was a career soldier and an amazing gardener too :)

Have fun, glad you liked the pic!

Answer #2

Kiasu, the first plants that come to mind are milkweed, french lavender and purple coneflower. Milkweed where I live is a wild thing that some people hate, but it looks nice in the more natural areas of my garden. Lavender gets woody after a while but it’s very much easier for you to grow than for me, as your winters aren’t so savage, lol.

Coneflower is the common name for Echinacea. There are tons of nice varieties but the purple/pink ones are the strongest and most pest-resistant. Every year mine are covered in monarch butterflies. And I saw a humming bird once for 4 seconds!

Buddlea is gorgeous but I have to plant as an annual. too cold here!

Also consider a flowering dogwood for birds. And any flowering shrub that might have berries.

Small trees - magnolia, my fave being magnolia soulangeana - or cup and saucer magnolia. The flowers are like a cup and saucer :)

There are more, and as I drag them out of my cobwebbed mind, I’ll add them to this list!

Its a countdown for me as to when I can get my hands dirty again. Our last day of frost is around the end of april. I am so jealous of your climate!

Answer #3

you can get butterflys by flowers and bees by trees

Answer #4

More flowers for butterflies… I checked my last years garden photos

Columbine (shade lover) Bee Balm (monarda) full sun Cosmos, full sun, annual Coreopsis - full sun Blanket flower (Gaillardia) Lambs ears - sunny spot, the small ones (Stachys)

Answer #5

How nice to move back into your original home… I’d love to be able to do that. The house I was born in is now an Officer’s Quarters somewhere in the Cotswolds.

The best lavender I found is one called Lavandula x intermedia ‘Alba’ - and I picked it up at a supermarket for $2.49. I’ve never found it again, but the original plant is still going strong. The flowers are white (hence the name “Alba.” It attracts bees and butterflies - monarchs and white cabbage butterflies. At times, it’s covered in them. I have it in front of the coneflower so it’s a very popular spot!

Rudbeckia looks a lot like the purple coneflower. They don’t attract much but I’d still grow them if I were you, because they need practically no maintenance and they can provide a stunning display of bright yellow at the end of summer. They don’t like being transplanted though, so allow about 2 ft on either side! They’re called black eyed susans over here too, but I think that name is also given to another flower in the UK so best to stick to latin names, no confusion there. Yes, Columbine is oone f the common names for aquilegia. I dont have much luck growing them but a neighbour of mine has them growing out of cracks in her patio stones!

Thanks for those links! They’re gorgeous pics. My favourite is one called Sweet Dreams, again, too tender for my climate so I have to treat them like annuals. But here’s a pic frm 2 years ago, they’re the white ones in the front, with the pink middles.

Yes, the birds will eat the holly berries and rosehips…

And theres something else you can do if you’re a patient man. Digging flower beds and addiing to the soil is quite a lot of work. So if there are any garden beds that you think you can wait a year for, there’s a way to prepare them easily and then plant next year. It’s called “lasagna gardening” and it’s simple. You put layers of newspaper, mulch and composting materials down right on top of your lawn, and a year later you have a garden bed to plant in. Look it up - I’ve done 2 like that now and it’s saved a few backs in my family of slaves!

If you don’t have a compost bin, start one. It’s a lot of fun although somewhat addictive.

I will live through you with your garden until I can get into mine!

Answer #6

Sorry Pink Pearl, Had to post this link :

What beautiful photos…

This is part of the Coreopsis family you mentioned earlier…

Answer #7

Many thanks Pinkpearl, It certainly sounds like our climate is milder. I was surprised about the budlia as it always seemed quite a hardy, woody type of shrub.

lavender is quite popular, I may try this. I assume that would attract the bees?

(I’m looking up some of your suggestions as I type)

I had not heard of Echinacea but looking it up, Rudbeckia falls within this group which I have seen. I wont keep my fingers crossed for a hummingbird though.

Ref the flowering dogwood, my search just found this beautiful tri colour one:

Ref shrubs that have berries for birds, do they eat rosehips and holly berries?

Also, the house my wife and I have recently moved into has always been in my family since it was built. I was actually born in the room which is now our bedroom.

The point being that I lived here for the first part of my life and I know the different soil types in different parts of the garden. This ranges from heavy clay, that I am trying to break down with compost and a rotavator - to very rich loam soil that my father enriched with compost over many years.

We also have full shade, full sun and a bit of both so an ideal site. At the moment most of it is laid out as grass lawn, a bit like a blank canvass for me to work with.

Ref your second post, I’m impressed that I recognise columbine. I think it is also called aquiligia or similar.

Not sure about the others, will look them up now.

many thanks, that was really useful.

I will keep you updated as my plans progress as I am not a natural flower and shrub gardener.


Answer #8

Hi Bigmuma, You said: ‘Well if someone tells you to stand outside naked this is not actually correct. You might be inviting more wildlife from the human type into your yard.’

Trust me, if I stood naked in my yard, not only would it clear the garden of wildlife for evermore, it would clear the neighbourhood of inhabitants!!!

Pinkpearl, Bought some seeds today that you recommended:

french lavender Buddlea (mixed colours) Thought I would try growing these from seed as they would often self set in my old garden. Columbine Rudbeckia

Also picked up: Morning glory (mixed colours) Scented stock Some cat grass seeds for the moggie And some ornamental grass called Pennesetum Cream Falls that looks really pretty.

Other than the cat grass, they were just impulse buys but I thought the Morning Glory would cover up the wire fence I put up recently.

Also bought a small holly bush and a few wild rose bushes.

I’m going to be busy this weekend as I also have 50 glossy leaf private trees being delivered tomorrow or saturday.

I have not yet finished preparing the soil for these as they originally told me they thought it was too late to despatch and they would send them out in Dec when the trees are dormant. I think they are 3 foot tall specimans.

If I dont have the time to dig in compost as I planned, would it be ok to plant them and put the compost around them instead? I have a lot of mushroom compost being delivered tomorrow. (Compost previously used to grow mushrooms in)

Ref my composter, I have a large bin one but the compost looks more like slimy and rotten plants etc rather than the crumbly soil one sees on gardeners programes. I think it is too wet.

I will have a read up on the other compost idea you suggested. I have not been so well the last 10 years as I have a hereditary blood condition which sometimes causes me to get easily fatigued. (All about low blood oxygen levels)

This is really upsetting some times as I love gardening but sometimes I am totally worn out after just 30 minutes digging. The mind is willing but the body is weak. :)

This is why I had to leave the army. Just hope my old buddies dont read this site, I would never live iot down if the saw this question!

PS Love the pic. I will post some when something starts to flower.

Thanks to everyone for the advice.


Answer #9

leave out trash and food youll get lots of racoon dear and mice and bees lol

Answer #10

Oops forgot the sweet dreams pic…

In the background - blue salvia, pink cosmos.

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