Gardens celebrated as key nature reserves
The RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, 9 – 14 July, will champion Britain’s threatened bees and butterflies and show gardeners how they can help support these vital insects.
Over the past 50 years many groups of British insects have been in decline, including some of the common butterflies, moths, hoverflies and bees. Part of the problem may be the reduction in the abundance of wildflowers in the countryside that has occurred over this period. With the loss of traditional sources of food, gardens are increasingly being recognised as an important habitat where insects can find sources of nectar and pollen.
RHS Head of Science, Alistair Griffiths, said: “Gardens are a massively important refuge for wildlife and we know that what we grow in our individual gardens and how we manage them can have a big impact on pollinating insects.
“To help gardeners understand the practical, everyday difference they can make to the plight of pollinators the RHS is introducing a major bees and butterflies area at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show with gardens to show visitors the impact they can make while celebrating these amazing insects.”
Native Butterfly Garden – Butterfly Jungle
350 British butterflies will fly freely among a rich combination of pollinator friendly plants in Butterfly Jungle’s Native Butterfly Garden. The garden illustrates the ease with which gardeners can create mini-meadow reserves to help sustain butterflies.
Iconic British breeds, including Red Admirals, Peacocks and Painted Lady, will be housed in a purpose built transparent enclosure, so visitors can observe the butterflies at work.
The planting is specifically tailored to appeal to British, native butterflies including combinations of herbaceous plants, shrubs and wildflowers. Several varieties of Buddleja will be mixed with Black and Greater Knapweed, Red Clover, Verbena rigida, Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ and more than 40 other plants.
Paul Allen from Butterfly Jungle says: “The aim of the garden is to encourage more people to integrate butterfly friendly elements within their gardens. We hope that by seeing butterflies close up we will capture the imagination of visitors and inspire them to create habitats for these wonderful insects.”
The Bee Garden - Rachel Parker-Soden
The plight of solitary, bumble and honey bees is the focus of the Bee Garden, which looks at the role those with very small gardens can play in the fight to save the bees.
The garden will illustrate the impact of planting a mix of nectar rich plants that not only flower in summer, but that also provide early and late food sources for bees, especially as some bumble bee species can now be seen foraging during winter. It will also demonstrate how gardeners can create essential nesting environments for the different types of bees by leaving an area with deadwood or by drilling holes in logs, or by putting out hollow plant stems such as bamboo canes, cardboard or paper tubes.
Bugs in Boots - Caspian Robertson
The ‘Bugs in Boot’s’ garden aims to create an ecological space for insects, birds and other wildlife, recognising extreme weather conditions and the impact they have on wildlife.
With events like floods having a serious impact on gardens and insect habitats, the centre of the Bugs in Boots garden is designed to flood in heavy rainfall before slowly releasing the water into the soil. By storing the water, rather than flooding other areas of the garden, this slow-release design reduces the strain on overburdened water systems during times of intense rainfall, and protects the rest of the garden environment.
Designer Caspian Robertson created his eco-garden by using a combination of plants drawn from the RHS Perfect for Pollinators list of nectar and pollen rich plants that can sustain insects.
The Bee House - The British Beekeepers Association
The British Beekeepers Association has teamed up with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust to raise the profile of managed honeybees and wild bumblebees and highlight the vital role gardeners can play in the battle to help pollinators.
Interactive activities will help visitors deepen their understanding of the mysterious life of bees and learn about the differences between honey and bumblebees. Practical advice will be available on the best bee-friendly flowers to plant to attract and sustain bees.
Products derived from bees, including honey and beeswax, will be on display and visitors will be able to try their hand at the age-old tradition of candle making.
Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.