Farnham in Bloom is supporting a project to encourage more bees and pollinators into our gardens. Go Wild for Bees 2017 suggests nectar and pollen-rich plants you can grow to attract bees, how to build a bee hotel and a chart that will help you to identify the bees in your garden.

The Bourne Conservation Group has also put together ten tips for attracting pollinators and wildlife to your garden.

Make water available

Water is vital to the wildlife in your garden whether it be in the hot summer or the freezing conditions of winter. This is especially relevant in The Bourne Valley where the stream is dry for several months in summer. A simple birdbath is a good start point but some may wish to go further, in which case having a pond is the number one way of enhancing the wildlife in your garden.

Retain an area of long grass

Even if you want to keep your lawn in pristine condition, setting aside one area which is left uncut will help pollinators, give shelter for small mammals and frogs, and provide seed heads for birds later in the year.

Set aside a wild area

Many gardens will already have a “forgotten” corner where all those bits and pieces of unused garden materials accumulate. This will provide shelter for wildlife but its value can be enhanced still further if you let a few stinging nettles grow there. These will support the caterpillars that miraculously turn into Red Admiral and Peacock butterfly pollinators next year. Other wild plants that are of immense value are brambles and ivy.

Make a habitat pile from logs, twigs or stones

Every garden generates large quantities of superfluous material much of which can be retained to advantage. Piles of logs of all sizes from twigs upwards will be helpful to insects and beetles as will piles of those stones that you take out of your flower beds or vegetable patches.

Choose the right plants 

Beautiful blooms with tightly closed flowers are of no benefit to bees because they cannot get at the nectar. Choose open flowers that bloom at different times throughout the year. The RHS provide a list of flowers that are most attractive to pollinators.

Plant some wild flowers 

Setting aside one bed for wild flowers such as cornflowers and poppies gives a new dimension to your garden and will be greatly helpful to bees, butterflies and moths. The RHS has a useful list of suggestions.

Get composting

Your compost can be spread on the garden to help mulch and feed the plants, and the compost pile itself will support a variety of wildlife.

Leave some bare soil 

Much of Farnham is hilly and, if you have a sunny bank in your garden, clear a patch of all plants to leave some bare soil. Many solitary bees (which do not sting) nest in burrows in such areas.

Install habitat boxes

Habitat features can be homemade or bought for relatively low cost. To make a refuge for beetles, punch holes in an old bucket, fill it with wood chips and bury it in the ground. For a bee hotel, take a bunch of  20cm lengths of bamboo, bind them together and fix in a sunny spot against a tree or wall.

Choose a hedge rather than a solid wooden fence

The advantages to pollinators and other wildlife of a natural hedge are readily apparent. It is also much more attractive for you and those passing your property. In cases where a solid fence is considered essential, do leave some gaps at the bottom to allow hedgehogs and other animals to go foraging.

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