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punkdocpunkdoc Sheffield, Derbyshire border.Posts: 7,955

I have just been reading MDs article on why we should plant natives as they are more beneficial to insects. Whilst I do like to grow quite a few natives, the plants I have hd the most insects on this year have been; Cirsium rivulare and Knautia macedonia neither of which are native.

I would be interested to know what others think.

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Silver splits the blue
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  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,107

    the native plants are the food plants for the larvae of the native insects doc.



  • PalustrisPalustris Posts: 3,269

    The answer is a good mix. If you stuck just to native plants, the garden would be a much poorer place. Britiain is very low in the number of native plants compared to other parts of Europe.

    The plant which always amazes me is Lonicera alseuosmoides, an evergreen climbing type. The flowers are nothing much to look at and as far as I can discern, scent-free, yet I have just counted over 300 bees of all kinds all over it. Far and away more than there is on L. peryclimen the native Honeysuckle.


  • waterbuttswaterbutts Posts: 1,214

    I haven't read the article yet, unfortunately. If it talks about food plants, does it mean food plants for the larval/nymph stage of insects or for the adult stage? I think native insects would prefer native plants when they are larvae but I don't really think they would be too picky when  it comes to flowers producing nectar, unless the flower is so extreme in its form that they can't reach the nectar.

    Two thirds of my garden is wildflower meadow and it is bordered on two sides by huge clumps of 2-metre high nettles and fields cropped by sheep. Plenty of native plants around, but remarkably few butterflies and moths. Except for this afternoon when I was escorted down to the compost heap by six Small Tortoiseshells that fluttered round me for several minutes. Other than that, just the usual hordes of Small Cabbage Whites, a couple of Commas, a handful of Meadow Browns and one Red Admiral.

    Other insect life is often more interesting. Burying beetles are quite common here. And crickets/grasshoppers.

  • waterbuttswaterbutts Posts: 1,214

    Here in the Peak District we are lucky to have free walks every week organised by the  park rangers. They talk as we walk and cover subjects from birds to local history with everything in between. One of the most memorable walks I joined was a night time walk to look for newts in the local dewponds - they are man-made concrete lined circular pits and very steep sided. It was pitch black, we were all listening intently to the ranger telling us about the common newt, when there was a strangled cry from the other side of the pond. A man had taken a step too far and slipped into the stagnant water up to his knees. Twenty flash lights were turned on and focussed on the poor fella like something from Stalag Luft III....

    Yes, if you have anything similar, I can recommend it.image

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 30,507

    Regarding wildlife - I think if we all do a little it helps a lot.

    It's a simple philosophy but I reckon it does the job.image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 20,042

    I think just growing natives is a bit precious and very boring in the UK.  It's going to look like a bed of weeds with a short flowering season and not much other interest for most of the year.   I don't really like prairie style planting but I feel that does at least offer more variety of form, texture and colour for longer.

    My garden is a mix of European natives and plants from other parts of the world.  There's no shortage of nectar available and I have a pond, an insect hotel, log piles and bird feeders plus a good range of trees, shrubs and perennials to provide food and shelter all year round for all sorts of wildlife.   The place is buzzing.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • waterbuttswaterbutts Posts: 1,214

    Sometimes one has little choice but to hand over half the garden to native plants. Our garden is at a 30 to 40 degree angle to the horizontal, over fifty metres from top to toe and mostly on rubbish soil. Plus we are both drawing our pensions - even the walk to the compost  heap has to be saved up until there's enough to make the effort worthwhile. As an elderly Groucho Marx one said when tying his shoelaces "Is there anything else I can do while I'm down here?

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