Plants for Pollinators

If you want to invite wildlife into your garden it doesn’t automatically mean it has to become a wilderness.  There are so many elegant and sumptuous ‘must have’ plants which have the added bonus of enticing in the bees, butterflies and other important pollinators into your garden.  Below are some handy wildlife garden design tips…

Starting with the winter months you could try the hellebore family, particularly Helleborus argutifolius or the sarcococca family both of which provide really useful winter evergreen and flowers at that trickiest time of year.  I particularly love the Jurassic shapes of Helleborus argultifolius  whose spiky leaves are followed by a burst of lime green flowers.

Moving on into the spring and the options abound.  Cornus mas is a greatly under-used tree in my opinion and as the year unfolds, its delicate yellow blooms clothe its branches, providing insects with that vital lifeline.  Lunaria annua is also one of my favourite early summer flowers and I love its exuberant free-seeding habit.  Yet it always manages to look planned and fairly orderly, as if usefully filling a gap in the garden that you didn’t know you had.  During the spring months, apples, cherries and all other fruit contribute the most towards keeping the bees and butterflies happy and if you can have several trees in your garden, not only will you have enough fruit for yourself in the autumn but perhaps you’ll have some left over to leave for the birds and other animals to feed on during the winter months.


The summer gives a riot of options and it is here that herbaceous perennials come into their own.  Below is a list of some of my favourite plants, ones that I come back to time and again in my planting schemes:

Anthemis tinctoria: Astrantia major: Campanula persicifolia: Centranthus ruber: Echinacea purpurea: Eryngium giganteum: Geranium ‘Rozanne’: Hesperis matronalis: Lavandula: Lychnis coronaria: Nepeta x faassenii: Perovskia atriplicifolia: Persicaria amplexicaulis: Polemonium caeruleum: Rosa rugosa: Saliva nemorosa: Verbena bonariensis & Veronica longifolia

It is encouraging to note that all the above are ideal for insects and so you can plan that perfect space with old favourites safe in the knowledge that the bees and butterflies will enjoy your efforts also.

As autumn takes over then we can rely on the likes of Anemone x hybrida with its prolific eye catching flowers and the aster family for its valuable late season colour.  These will both provide for insects along with less showy plants such as Eleagnus pungens & ebbingei which also have a bewitching scent which hangs in the air on still warm evenings.

A comprehensive list can be found on the RHS website at which should help plan any number of beautiful borders and invite a host of perfect pollinators for your plants: