RSPB COLUMN: Wildlife-friendly planting tips

Buff-tailed bumblebee Bombus terrestris, adults feeding on sunflowerBuff-tailed bumblebee Bombus terrestris, adults feeding on sunflower
Buff-tailed bumblebee Bombus terrestris, adults feeding on sunflower
May is nearly here and the days are getting warmer and longer.

Many of us are starting to tidy up spring plants and plant out summer flowers. It’s also the perfect time to start thinking about how you can help wildlife in your garden. A simple way to do this is to grow more plants. Not only are plants beautiful, colourful and richly scented, making outdoor spaces more welcoming, relaxing, and interesting but many are good for wildlife. They can provide varied food sources, pollen and nectar for bees and butterflies, shelter for wildlife and nesting spots for birds.

No matter what size your space is, plants can help transform it into a joyful space for you and the nature on your doorstep. For example:

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Flower patches can encourage larger wildlife, such as birds, who come to feast on the insects and seeds.

Unloved vertical spaces, like walls and fences can be transformed into attractive nature havens by growing climbing plants.

If you don’t have a lot of outdoor space - or even none at all - you can still grow plants and flowers by sowing seeds in pots or window boxes.

I find planting a relaxing and rewarding activity, and like me, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll see pollinators buzzing into your garden. If you are interested in giving planting a go, here are five wildlife-friendly, easy-growing plants to get anybody started:

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Sunflowers – beautiful and easy to grow from seed, these classic flowers are great for pollinators and are a great food source for birds when they set seed.

Cornfield annuals – for just a couple of pounds you can have the glow of red poppies and blue cornflowers within weeks

Mini-meadow – just let parts of your lawn grow for a few months, or even better until late summer, and be rewarded with drifts of clovers and other meadow flowers

Lavender, the familiar lovely-smelling herb that’s brilliant for bees and butterflies.

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Foxgloves, tall purple, pink and white flowers that are bee magnets.

Don’t forget - when tending to your outdoor spaces this spring and summer, ensure you take extra care, our birds are busy nesting and raising their young, so it’s best to put down the pruning shears and avoid cutting hedges, trees and shrubs, as this is the time of year when you are most at risk of disturbing nest sites.

For more wildlife friendly gardening tips, and inspiration on how to give planting a go visit

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