Rah rah rah biodiversity. But let’s be clear. Biodiversity is bugs. Some bugs we love – bees, butterflies. Some less so – wasps, stinkbugs, lily beetles. But when you’re making conditions fabulous for the bugs you love, you’re inviting in all the rest as well – spiders, centipedes, beetles that are not as cute as ladybirds – the lot!
There’s been much mumbling about whether native planting schemes are better for biodiversity than mixed or non-native plants in gardens. But this debate can be put to rest because the RHS Plants for Bugs project was able to show that gardeners should plant a mix of native and non-native plants if they wish to attract an abundance of pollinators.
Research data showed no difference between pollinators attracted to plots containing only ‘native’ plants, and those with mixed, near-native or exotic plantings.
RHS Principal Entomologist on the study, Andrew Salisbury, said that he hoped “these findings will help gardeners to confidently pack their borders, windowboxes and allotments with flowers, without getting hung up on the idea that they are somehow doing the ‘wrong thing’ if the plants are not all UK natives.’ (RHS, The Garden, September 2015, p.8)
This will make the big guy happy, as he’s dead keen on growing some fairly exotic flowers, such as these towering purple-flowering spears that grow at another plot at the allotments.
Andrew Salisbury et al‘s peer-reviewed paper “Enhancing gardens as habitats for flower‐visiting aerial insects (pollinators): should we plant native or exotic species?,” is published in the British Ecological Society’s Journal of Applied Ecology (August 2015).