A diverse assortment of plants and flowers in a habitat is essential for a well-functioning, healthy ecosystem. The larger the diversity of living things in an environment, the stronger the foundation will be for other creatures to thrive. So how can we as gardeners promote biodiversity in our own green spaces? In light of the International Day for Biological Diversity, Emma O’Neill, Head Gardener at the national charity Garden Organic, shares her advice on choosing the best flowers for increasing garden biodiversity.
The term biodiversity is used a lot in gardening - particularly if you’re an organic gardener - and here at Garden Organic, it pops up all the time in conversation. Biodiversity, in essence, means variety in plant and animal life. We often get asked why biodiversity is important for gardeners, and the answer is straightforward. The more diversity in your space, the more successful your plants will be. What’s more, if you can support biodiversity in your own growing space, and however big or small it might be, you will be directly helping to protect our planet’s precious flora and fauna.
Flowers play a crucial role in this balance. Whether on trees, shrubs, fruit or vegetables, flowers provide valuable pollen and nectar to bees, butterflies, hoverflies, and many other creatures essential in producing fruit and seed. In fact, without these pollinators, we would be lost, and we would struggle to produce food on the scale we currently do.
When choosing flowers for biodiversity, the most important rule to remember is that single open flowers are best. Many highly bred fancy, often double flowers have little or no pollen and nectar available, and for those pollinating insects, they are of no use at all.
Biodiversity doesn’t just include pollinators; insects and invertebrates such as butterflies, birds, spiders, beetles and toads all fall into this category and are a gardener’s friend. They help rid the garden of pests, or they themselves are a valuable food source for other predators higher up in the food chain. To support these creatures, the other important factor to consider is choosing flowering plants that will provide dense vegetation for habitats, shelter in the winter months and food.
Here are a few of the top flowering plants, some of which we grow at Ryton Gardens, our organic demonstration garden, to ensure it is diverse and thriving throughout the four seasons:
Create a wildlife paradise with the collection!
Or shop plants for pollinators here:
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