Herbs are naturally aromatic and many are highly favored by honeybees and other insects. Learn how you can have your own garden perfect for birds and bees.
Transforming your garden into a haven for insects and small mammals does not have to mean banks of burrs and overgrown meadows of native species. Herbs are naturally aromatic and many are highly favored by honeybees and other insects. Trees are rarely described as herbs but they add an important habitat and provide much-needed shelter to insects throughout the year. Silver birch (Betula pendula) is a great food source for invertebrates as well as thirsty gardeners as the sweet sap can be used fresh or fermented to make a fine wine.
Size: 10x10 feet
Suits: A mix of bulbs, perennials and trees
Soil: Fertile, well-drained
Site: Any sunny or lightly shaded position
Try to remove all weeds before planting and tie any woody offcuts or stems of dead grass into bundles and hang in a sheltered place to provide a habitat for aphid-munching lacewings and other beneficial insects. Keep deadheading and pruning to a minimum, but remove larger leafier perennials if they collapse after the first frosts. They can cover sections of smaller shrubs that are then liable to be spoiled by the rotting foliage. Leave seedheads for the birds to harvest, but hoe in the spring as self-sown seedlings could take over. Insect pests can be a problem until a natural balance has developed and some damage has to be accepted. Biological controls help, but avoid chemical pesticides, which harm bees unless accurately targeted.
Lavandula stoechas (image 1)
Well-drained soil, Full sun, Award-winning plant.
Rosmarinus officinalis (image 2)
Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites, Well-drained soil, Full sun.
Betula pendula (image 3)
Fully hardy plants, Well-drained soil, Moist soil, Full sun, Partial or dappled shade, Award-winning plant.
Allium aflatunense (image 4)
Fully hardy plants, Well-drained soil, Full sun.
Alternative plant idea:
Borago officinalis (image 5)
Fully hardy plants, Well-drained soil, Full sun, Partial or dappled shade.
Excerpted from Simple Steps: Herbs
©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009