The healthiest gardens are filled with a generous population of friendly insects, such as hoverflies, lacewings, bees – native and European – indigenous wasps and beneficial ladybirds. While these insect visitors will gobble up many plant-damaging pests, they also enhance pollination. Even annoying leaf-eating caterpillars eventually turn into beautiful, pollinating butterflies.
Relax if you have a slightly untidy garden with lots of nooks and crannies, as these offer ready-made residences to beneficial insects. Remember that pesticides don’t discriminate between the good and the bad insects, so avoid using them wherever possible.
Insects get thirsty in summer, so provide some sources of clean water. You can get creative and make mini insect ‘baths’ out of small containers, such as old teacups mounted on stakes. Keep these filled with clean water and put a few pebbles in the base to provide insect visitors with comfy landing spots.
Set out an enticing pollen feast for your visiting pollinators by planting lots of flowers in the garden. They don’t need to be placed in straight rows or isolated beds. They’ll look and work better when mixed with other plants or dotted in among the vegetables.
This is also the perfect time of year to scatter seeds of insect-friendly summer bloomers, such as cosmos (above), alyssum and cleome. Single blooms are favoured because their pollen is easy to reach. Sunflowers are popular summer bloomers that grow easily from seed once the soil is warm. Sow seed of tall sunflower varieties in front of supporting fences and shorter types either in pots or near the front of borders. Don’t forget herbs, especially pollinator magnets in the mint family, such as lavender, rosemary, basil and lemon balm.