Beneficial insects for the garden.🐌🦋🐛🐝🐜🦟🕷🐞🦗

Having a garden full of insects is actually a good thing!

A lot of these insects are beneficial to your much loved plants and these little guys are actually defending your garden from major pests.

Some garden pests just have to go such as, Japanese Beetles BUT, other insect species can help you wage the war against harmful blights.

The best way to maintain a healthy garden is to educate yourself and learn to identify common “bad bugs.”

Inspect your garden regularly to detect problems early. The sooner a pest is identified the easier it will be to manage using earth-friendly methods. 

Here are some beneficial insects you may find in your garden:

1. Aphid Midge

Aphid midge larvae eat aphids; one larva can eat as many as 65 aphids in a day.
Adult aphid midges are very small, black, flies—less than 1/8 inch long. They look like fungus gnats. Aphid midge larvae are tiny pale yellow to red or brown slug-like creatures. Attract aphid midges to the garden by planting pollen and nectar plants and provide a water source. Aphid midges are tiny and light, so the garden must be protected from winds. They are most effective in controlling aphids at 68−80 °F and high relative humidity.

2. Braconoid wasps

Braconid wasps are parasitic on some caterpillars, boreres, weevils and beetles, making them a beneficial garden visitor. Braconids are short and stocky — the abdomen is about the same length as the head and thorax combined. Unlike other wasps, braconids do not have skinny “waists.” They can be confused with small flies. Different braconids are parasitic on army worms, eastern tent caterpillars, corn borers, cotton bollworms, alfalfa weevils, wheat-stem sawflies and Douglas-fir bark beetles, just to name a few. In the garden and orchard, this beneficial parasitism occurs on aphids, coddling moths, tomato hornworms, garden webworms and on many different caterpillars, beetles and flies.

3. Damsel bugs

Damsel bugs prey on aphids, leafhoppers, plant bugs, thrips, and small caterpillars. Damsel bugs cause no damage to plants.
Adult damsel bugs lay their eggs on meadow grasses. To attract damsel bugs to the garden plant ornamental grasses. As well, damsel bugs are commonly found in unsprayed alfalfa fields. You can collect damsel bugs there and release them in the garden.

4. Ground beetles

Unless you garden at night, you aren’t likely to encounter this nocturnal beneficial insect on a regular basis, even though ground beetles are extremely common – there are over 2,000 species in North America alone. Each species looks different, of course, but most ground beetles are dark and shiny with ridged wing-covers. They hide in grasses or underneath objects during the day, so if you flip over a rock or a log and see a dark beetle scurrying around, there’s a very good chance it’s a ground beetle. Ground beetles are such good bugs in the garden because they scour the garden for prey all night long. Both adult and larval ground beetles consume mites, snails, slugs, caterpillars, earwigs, cutworms, vine borers, aphids, and lots of other insects. Each beetle can eat more than its own body weight in prey insects every night (bye-bye slugs!). 

5. Lacewings

Green lacewings are insect predators that measure ½ to ¾ of an inch long and bear very distinctive, delicate-looking wings that give them their names. These green insects have long antennae and gold or copper eyes. Green lacewings are generalist predators, meaning that they aren’t picky eaters and will prey on a wide range of pests. Common targets include: Mealybugs, Psyllids, Thrips, Mites, Whiteflies, Aphids, Caterpillars and Leafhoppers.

6. Lady beetles/ ladybirds

Ladybugs are also known as lady beetles or even ladybird beetles. In European countries they are referred to as “ladybirds.” Adult lady beetles are round beetles measuring no more than 3/8″ in length. They can be red, orange, or black in color with or without spots.
Larvae are said to look somewhat like an alligator in its shape with tiny spiked projections and orange striping on its blue or black body. Ladybug eggs are yellowish or whitish, oval-shaped and laying in clusters. The favorite foods of ladybugs include aphids, spider mites and mealybugs. They will also prey on eggs of some insects, particularly the European Corn Borer and the Colorado Potato Beetle.
Ladybugs in both the larval and adult stages feast on these insects. Interestingly, a ladybug will devour thousands of aphids in its lifetime!

7. Minute parrot bugs

These fast black and white critters are indiscriminate hunters. They will attack and eat a wide range of bugs and pests. To attract minute pirate bugs to your garden, try planting daisies, yarrow, and alfalfa and rejoice in the decimation of the pest population that is sure to follow.
Plus, you get to tell your friends and family that your garden is full of pirates!

8. Soldier beetles

Soldier beetles are commonly mistaken as other, less beneficial, insects in the garden. When on a bush or flower, they resemble fireflies, but without the ability to glow. In the air they’re often thought to be wasps and quickly shooed away. Smart gardeners who learn what are soldier beetles soon learn to attract these garden friends instead of trying to keep them away. You can identify soldier beetles by their yellowish to tan color, along with a large black spot on each wing. Otherwise known as leatherwings, the colors of soldier beetles vary depending on the part of the country in which they live. These beneficial insects are most useful in the late summer when aphids abound and other predatory insects begin to lay their eggs. Soldier beetle larva help to rid the garden of these pests. In the spring, they can rival bees when it comes to pollinating gardens and flower beds.

9. Spined shoulder bug

Spined soldier bugs are generalist predators. They chow down over 50 different kinds of insects, including the larvae of both beetles and moths. These predator stink bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts that they use to grab prey and eat them.They are one of the best predator bugs for reducing pest populations in crops, especially fruit crops, alfalfa and soybeans.

10. Tachinid flies

A tachinid fly is a small flying insect that resembles a house fly. Most kinds are less than ½-inch in length. They usually have a few hairs sticking up and pointing backward and are gray or black in color.Tachinid flies in gardens are very beneficial because they kill pests. In large part to their size, they don’t bother humans, but make things difficult for garden pests. Tachinidae can either lay eggs that a host will consume and later die, or adult flies will insert eggs directly into the host bodies. As the larva develops inside the host, it eventually kills the insect it is living inside. Each species has their own preferred method, but most choose caterpillars or beetles as hosts. In addition to killing unwelcome garden pests, tachinid flies also help pollinate gardens. They can survive at higher elevations where bees cannot. Areas without bees can benefit greatly from this fly’s pollinating skills.

11. Hoverflies

These small, fast-moving insects resemble small wasps, but they are distinctive in their ability to hover near plants or people, examining them with their huge brown eyes. Sometimes called flower flies or syrphid flies, hoverflies sometime do land on people to lick salty sweat, but they do not sting. Adult hoverflies feed on flower nectar and help pollinate some crops, but it is the larvae that are important predators in the garden. The tiny, nearly invisible slug-like larvae scour the undersides of plant leaves for aphids, and eat them as their primary food source. They can be seen with a 10x magnifying glass. Hoverflies that come to your garden in search of flower nectar will also look for plants that are infested with aphids, and scatter their eggs on leaves where young aphids are hatching. Grow plenty of flowers with small florets such as sweet alyssum and members of the carrot family. Tolerate small aphid outbreaks in spring to help support a thriving summer population of hoverflies.

12. Bees

Bees are known as nature’s best pollinators. Without them, we wouldn’t have nearly as many flowers and plants. Bees depend on flowers and plants for nutrition. Nectar is collected for a few reasons. It’s a bee’s main energy source, as it’s full of sugar, which is also used to make honey in their hive. Pollen is full of fat and protein, which helps feed the hive.
When bees collect pollen, they carry it from one flower to another. This cross-pollination is essential for flowers in order to produce more seeds. As bees cross-pollinate, more flowers and plants will grow. A bee gets the nutrients they need, and your garden ends up with more flowers and plants.

13. Spiders

Spiders start their pest-control benefits at the same time insects start appearing. Adult spiders often overwinter in your garden. You might not see them while they sleep, but they are ready to wake up and get to eating as soon as it’s warm enough for insects to be out. This means you don’t have to wait on spider eggs to hatch and babies to grow into adults before you start reaping the benefits of free pest control in your garden. Garden spiders aren’t poisonous, but that doesn’t mean every spider that walks through your garden isn’t. It’s possible you could see a poisonous spider, such as a black widow, but those spiders don’t normally choose gardens as a habitat. True garden spiders have black and yellow markings on their bodies, although other nonpoisonous spiders might take up residence in your garden. They rarely bite, but if they do, the bite is almost like a bee sting — the area might be red and sore for a day or two, but there shouldn’t be any major problems unless you are allergic or have immune system issues. Also, keep in mind that spiders don’t pick what insects that fly into their webs. If bees and butterflies are busy pollinating your flowers or vegetables and fly into a web, the spider is going to eat the helpful insects as well as the annoying ones.

14. Syrphid fly

Meet the syrphid fly, a colorful pollinator that also beats chemicals for controlling aphids and other garden pests. Syrphid flies are colorful, charismatic and fun to watch and can be easily supported with a variety of flowering plants. The adults are good pollinators, regularly visiting flowers for nectar and pollen. Turn over a leaf on a plant afflicted with aphids and you will find syrphid fly larvae swinging their heads from side to side catching and devouring their aphid prey. What more could a gardener ask for in a beneficial insect?

15. Nematode

Nematodes are microscopic soil-dwelling worms, many less than 1/16-inch long.
There are beneficial nematodes and pest nematodes.
Beneficial nematodes help turn organic matter into plant nutrients. They also prey on soil-dwelling plant pests such as white grubs and root maggots.
Pest nematodes feed on plant roots, stunting and sometimes killing plants including many vegetables. Predatory nematodes either have teeth or long spear-like structures which they use to stab and suck the juices out of plants or their insect prey.

16. Earth worm

Earthworms eat decaying plant material and do not damage growing plants
Britain has about 16 species of earthworms likely to be found in gardens
Earthworms occur in most soils
Some earthworms can be used in wormeries to make compost.

17. Assassin bug

Assassin bugs are beneficial insects that should be encouraged in your garden. There are around 150 species of assassin bugs in North America, most of which perform a service to the gardener and farmer. The insects prey on insect eggs, leafhoppers, aphids, larvae, boll weevils and others. The assassin bug is found in crop fields but is also a common insect in the home landscape.

18. Centipede

Millipedes and centipedes are two of the most popular insects to be confused with one another. Many people freak out upon seeing either millipedes or centipedes in gardens, not realizing that both can actually be helpful. Millipedes generally move much slower than centipedes and break down dead plant material in the garden. Centipedes are predators and will eat insects that do not belong in your garden. Both like damp areas and can prove to be beneficial in the garden, as long as their numbers are controlled.

19. Millipede

Centipedes are more active than millipedes and feed on small insects and spiders, using a poison to paralyze their victims. However, their jaws are too weak to cause much damage to humans other than a little swelling, such as with a bee sting.Like the millipedes, centipedes like moist environments, so removing leaf litter or other items where moisture collects will help eliminate their numbers. Centipede treatment outdoors shouldn’t necessarily be a concern; however, if it is needed, removing debris that they may hide under will help keep them from hanging around. While millipedes can damage your plants, centipedes generally will not. In fact, centipedes in gardens can be rather beneficial since they tend to eat insects that could possibly damage your plants.

20. Predatory mites

The predatory mites feed on spider mites and other pest mites as well as thrips and some other small insects. In the absence of prey, predatory mites eat pollen and nectar and can revert to sucking plant juices. There are several varieties of predatory mites in the garden, each of which has a preferred food source.

21. Mealy bug destroyer

Mealybug Destroyers are effective predators of aphids and various soft scales. … The adult female lays her eggs in the cottony egg sack of the mealybug. As soon as they hatch, the destroyers start snacking. Adults and young larvae prefer eggs, while older larvae will consume mealybugs at all stages.

I hope you now realise how many beneficial insects there really are and how they can help your garden- so have a think before you pick up the pest

Love your weeds! 🌱🌱🌱🌱

Think twice before you are pulling up what you think are ‘weeds’ despite this label of weeds they are not only beneficial to our pollinators and wildlife but beautiful too.

Charlock: attractive to bees and white butterflies, it is also a host for turnip flies and other vegetable pests. Its mustardy young leaves ate edible when cooked, but only before flowers appear.

Field Pennycress: this annual has edible peppery leaves and fruiting heads prized by florists. Its seeds make a good alternative to mustard and can stay viable for over 30 years.

Herb Robert: a magnet for hoverflies, carpet mothers and bees, this prolific seed-scatterer is a nuisance among vegetable seedlings. Leaves rubbed on the skin are antiseptic and deter mosquitoes.

Lesser hairy willow herb: moths and bees are drawn to these quick spreading flowers. Edible, vitamin rich leaves are useful in gargle to ease throat infections.

Prickly sow thistle: these copious seed producers are highly attractive to wasps, hoverflies and other pollinators, and useful reservoir for aphids. Its immature leaves make tasty vegetables.

Red clover and white clover: its flowers attract honey and bumblebees, long tongues flies and moths, its roots fix nitrogen and improve soil quality and its dried flowers can be used to make wine.

Dandelions: is a common perennial weed that forms a large flat rosette, it spreads readily from seed, germinating throughout the year. It is beneficial to all pollinators and is one of the first sources of nectar in the beginning of spring that they rely on. Dandelions are also famously used to make coffee during the WW1/WW2.

Creeping buttercup: a low growing perennial weed which prefers wet heavy soils. It is a common weed in lawns in the UK and as the name suggests, it spreads using creeping stems that run along the surface of the ground, extending upwards into a new plant on a regular basis. These beautiful little flowers are beneficial to all pollinators and flying insects.

Birds foot trefoil: is a perennial lawn weed and is also a member of the clover family. It can be a major problem on UK lawns as it forms large patches, it has a deep root system and spreads by both stolons and rhizomes (above and underground runners).is a perennial lawn weed and is also a member of the clover family. It can be a major problem on UK lawns as it forms large patches, it has a deep root system and spreads by both stolons and rhizomes (above and underground runners). The flowers are bright yellow and pretty and resemble those of the Honeysuckle. They can be seen from late April until late September. Birds-Foot Trefoil can tolerate a wide variety of soil types but prefers non acidic, dry soils.

Yarrow: is a perennial weed, common weed on all types of lawns and turf in the UK. It has deep fibrous roots and can withstand droughty conditions. It spreads by creeping stems which root at intervals. It is generally seen later in the year and the deep root system also gives it the benefit of being able to survive dry conditions. The leaves are fern like in appearance macking it very easy to identify.

Scarlett pimpernel: is an annual weed meaning that it only lasts one year, fresh plants need to grow from seed. This means it is rarely a threat to a well maintained lawn. The leaves are very similar to Common Chickweed but can be identified by its square stems and red flower. The distinct flowers of Scarlet Pimpernel can be seen from June – September. Each flower has five petals and are an orange – red colour.

Self heal: is a common weed on all types of lawn throughout the UK. This perennial weed spreads by creeping runners known as rhizomes, which root at intervals. It can quite happily grow in closely mown areas of turf although if left alone, it will grow to a height of 30cm and produce an attractive plant. This plant can thrive in most conditions, the leaves appear in pars and in closely mown areas, they may have a purple ting. Selfheal flowers from June to October, producing a bright purple flower.

Mouse ear chickweed and common chickweed: chickweed is a perennial weed and is very common on lawns throughout in the UK. It can be very annoying as it can spread very rapidly, smothering grass in the process. It can easily survive close mowing but can be controlled with selective herbicides. The small dark green leaves are distinctive in that they are very hairy. The flowers are very small and upright and white in colour appearing from late spring up to autumn.

Creeping cinquefoil: is a perennial weed, more common on neglected lawns and turf in the UK. It is rarely a problem on well maintained lawns. It spreads by creeping stems which root at intervals. The leaves are distinctive with five different segments with toothed edges. The flowers are yellow, again with five large fleshy petals which are visible from June to October.

Slender speedwell and germander speedwell: is a perennial weed which can be a persistent problem on lawns throughout the UK. It spreads by both underground and over ground runners. Control can be achieved with current chemicals but this needs correct timing and adjuvants. Slender Speedwell is more of a problem in closely mown turf than Germander Speedwell.

Lesser celandine: Lesser Celandine is usually one of the most prominent weeds seen early in the spring. The flower is one of the first to show among lawn weeds but the plant soon disappears as the weather warms up. This is difficult to control in a permanent sense as it needs to be hit early each year to weaken it. More commonly found in darker shady areas. The leaves are fleshy and dark green, very easily recognised.

Ribwort plantain: Very similar to greater plantain in habit and location, albeit the leaves are long and thin. This plant is very drought tolerant and it can cause unsightly patches, easy however to remove using the correct selective herbicides.

Common ragwort: ragwort is rarely a problem on fine lawns but is more common on low maintenance and neglected lawns. It is a biennial weed meaning that it produces lots of leaf in year one with the aim to produce a significant number of flowers in year two. It is not difficult to control in lawns.

I hope I have changed your mind about some truly beautiful and valuable ‘weeds’ that we have here in Britain.

Next time you are gardening, don’t be too quick to pull up what you think of as weeds, give them a chance to grow and change your mind.

Speedwell and ragwort are my

6 potential bumblebee nests you could have or potentially provide in your garden. 🐝🐝

I thought I’d write this quick article (with the help from my Bumblebee Conservation Trust monthly newsletter) on how you can provide our bumblebees with potential nests in your garden.

We all have to do our bit to help save the bees. 🐝🐝

Bumble nest.

1. Shed basement burrow: under a shed makes for a cosy under-shed burrow, only one previous occupant, tasteful homely interior decorated with shredded newspaper paper and an old plastic bag, access to a beautiful garden with well-stocked flower beds and flowering shrubs it is inviting for most bumblebee queens.

This is perfect for a ground dwelling Buff-tail or white-tail queen.

2. Hedgehog house: set in an ideal location under a hedgerow, providing great links to local amenities, this once traditional hedgehog hibernation box has been repurposed to make a fine nest. Well sheltered from the elements and with plenty of room they make good bumblebee nests for a growing colony, most bumblebees queens would be lucky to call this place a home.

3. Bird box boulevard: former bird boxes make a great spot for bumblebee nests, it comes prefurnished with warm nesting material and is suitable for most discerning bumblebee queens. A sturdy structure at a good height, the nest box has a single entrance and is well positioned amongst flowering trees and a fence lines which is a perfect spot.

4. Rooftop residence: a modern rooftop apartment provides an expansive open plan living space, complete with newly installed fibre glass insulation to take the strain out of incubation. Tree bumblebee queens in particular will love the views from high up under the tiles. The area is a hot spot for activity in early summer with a real community buzz.

5. Green moss Avenue: secluded tussocks of long grass and a marvellous mossy mound make this the ideal location for a canny career bee to set up a homemade with a little DIY, perhaps the addition of a thatched roof, this could be the perfect place to raise a colony.

6. Compost cottage: newly emerged bumblebee queens will love this snug and comfortable abode that benefits from the warmth of rotting vegetable matter which provides the advantage of conserving energy and keeping the whole colony warm during the cold nights. This dream colony location is not like to be on the market for long.

For more information on what bumblebees look for in a nest site and what to do if you find one visit:

www.bumblebeeconservation.org/bumblebee-nests/

Mowing tips for encouraging wildlife. 🌿🍃🐛🦋🐝

Do NOT be tempted to mow your long grass! Long grass is essential for wildlife.

Freshly-mowed lawns are pretty to look at, but they could actually be hurting the environment. The emissions from gas-powered mowers and trimmers contribute to air pollution, and mowing over native grasses and wildflowers reduce the nectar for pollinators. Instead of sticking to an every-other-week mowing schedule, let your grass grow long, skip the herbicide, and let your lawn become a no-mow lawn.

If you’re not ready to let your lawn become a full-grown meadow (or if your neighborhood has restrictions), start with a small section or troublesome area in the landscape. Doing so will help the plants and animals in your area.

The chances are that at least some wildflowers will appear if you leave the lawnmower alone. What comes up in your no-mow patch depends very much on what you start with. If, like me, your lawn is old, rather weedy, and probably hasn’t encountered weedkillers or fertilisers for years, a bit more conscious neglect could transform it into a thriving mini-meadow.

Here are the some mowing tips for encouraging wildlife in your garden:

Cut once every four weeks: the 2019 No Mow May experiment revealed the highest number of flowers on lawns, mown in this way. Ideally, leave around three to five centimetres of grass long.

Leave areas of long grass: the experiment also resulted in greater diversity of flowers in areas of grass than were left completely unmown, with ox eye daisies, field spacious and knotweed offering up important nectar resources.

You don’t have to stop mowing completely: some species, such as daisy and birds foot trefoil are adapted to growing in shorter shards. Cutting flowers from these plants once a month stimulates them to produce more blooms.

Make hay while the sun still shines: using grass cuttings to turn into hay is great for seed-eating birds. After any wildflowers have finished in late summer, mowing restores the grass, with perhaps another mowing before winter to prevent tussocks. Leaving the summer mown grass in place for a few sunny days to become ‘hay’ releases seeds to refresh the lawn for next year and also provides food for seed-eating birds and other wildlife. The ‘hay’ can also then be removed and composted.

We need to be more relaxed when it comes to looking after our lawns, it’s the case of changing the way we think about how they should be kept. People don’t realise how diverse grass lawns can really be!

The statistics for wildflower meadow loss are shocking: around 7.5 million acres has gone!

The loss of this landscape means a loss of much needed food sources for pollinators, which is one of the key drivers of their decline.

Gardens can really make a huge difference to the number of wildflowers in this country.

So why not help our vital pollinators by leaving the lawn mower this spring- summer and letting your grass grow!

Hoya: the wax houseplant that is making a comeback. 🌱🌱🌱

Many members of the houseplant community are just starting to discover the joy of collecting wnd growing the wide variety of “Hoyas” which are commonly known as wax plants or porcelain flowers due to te waxy appearance of their flowers and in some cases, their waxy leaves.

I heard of this plant for the first time whilst on a live stream with a fellow plant enthusiast and amazing human being with a lot more knowledge than me. After the livestream ended, I googled it and I was amazed at how many varieties there are and how beautiful they are; all I could think is how much I wanted one!

All about ‘Hoya’.

Hoya is a genus of 200–300 species of tropical plants in the family Apocynaceae (Dogbane). Most are native to several countries of Asia such as China, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia, There is a great diversity of species in the Philippines, and species in Polynesia, New Guinea, and Australia.

Common names for this genus are waxplantwaxvinewaxflower or simply hoya. This genus was named by botanist Robert Brown, in honour of his friend, botanist Thomas Hoy.

The first Hoya was ascribed to the genus in 1810. As of 2015, there have been over 500 scientific names published, however there is much discrepancy within the group– and new species are being discovered regularly. There are likely to be somewhere between 600-700 hoya species of which many of them are still undescribed and unnamed.

Hoyas are evergreen perennial creepers or vines or rarely, shrubs. They often grow epiphytically on trees; some grow terrestrially, or occasionally in rocky areas.

Larger species of Hoya can grow 1-18 metres or more, with suitable support in trees. In Hoya’s leaves can exhibit a variety of forms, smooth, felted or hairy; veination may be prominent in some plants but not in all, and many species have leaf surfaces flecked with irregular small silvery spots. The leaves can vary from very thin to semi-succulent to very succulent, wit the exception of Hoya imbricata which is a shingling hoya that only gets one leaf per node, hoyas produce opposite leaves. The leaves of a hoya always seem to be so simple–so never serrated, this can make them a bit more challenging to tell apart.

The greatest diversity of hoya comes out of subtropical and tropical Asia through the western Pacific. The Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea particularly have a high diversity of hoya, but they can also be found in places like Thailand, China, Singapore, India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Japan, LAos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Vanuatu and even Australia.

Hoya has a few different types of growth structures; climbing/vining (e.g. hoya australis), hanging/pendant shape (e.g. hoya bella). Then there is more erect, bushy and shrub like which is a but more uncommon (e.g. hoya multiflora), and finally there is a shape more in between pendant and shrub like (e.g. hoya cumingiana).


Hoyas fell out of place and were easily dismissed as ‘grandma’s plants’ for years and years but that is by far doing them a disservice.

In the past couple of years, they’ve undergone s huge revival- they are now coming back into popularity.

The range of species and hybrids available has expanded from the 2 stalwart specimens you’ll find in every house plant book H. Carnosa and H. bella. Hoyas defy the the usual categorisation of houseplants as either flower or foliage, but this genus offers the best of both worlds.

Hoya has been on the rise for quite a while now, with a viral presence on Instagram and Pinterest. This surge in popularity is likely due to that fact that these easy-care, low-water plants are fragrant, slow-growing, and thrive indoors. And, as an added bonus, they might even treat you to a few clusters of star-shaped flowers, given the right conditions ( when given plenty of sunlight). Hoyas grow well in low, medium, or bright light, though they’re less likely bloom in these conditions. The more light they receive, the more flowers they will produce. Hoyas also prefer snug pots and are said to flower more when they’re a bit root bound.

With their beautiful flowers and foliage; suitable for both pots and baskets, what’s stopping you from adding them to your plant collection?

Below are some care tips for your hoya.

Care tips for your hoya:

– Hardiness varies by species. If growing outdoors, some varieties of hoya are hardy in USDA Zones 8 through 11; others (like our H. carnosa) will only abide zones 10 through 11.

– Many people grow hoyas as houseplants. If indoors, cooler temps are A-OK during the winter but make sure they don’t drop below 50. The plants enjoy the warm temperatures of the spring and summer growing season.

– Humidity in your hoya habitat should be at least 40 percent. This can be achieved through regular misting with a spray bottle.

– Put it in a spot with bright indirect light, like a north-facing window.

– Evenly moist, well-drained soil is preferred. 

– Again, do not remove spurs after the blooms have faded. That’s where the next round of flowers will blossom. Allow faded flowers to fall off naturally.

– Apply a balanced fertilizer only during active growing season, i.e. spring and summer.

– Pot-bound plants will flower more vigorously.

– Keep soil moist in spring and summer, but allow it to dry in the winter — water just enough so the leaves won’t shrivel.

– Hoyas are most commonly propagated by cuttings.

– In general, don’t helicopter-garden this baby. It favors a bit of benign neglect. And definitely don’t move the plant while it’s blooming.

Here are some websites you can visit to read more about hoyas!

https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=824

https://homesteadbrooklyn.com/all/2019/4/8/the-ultimate-hoya-care-guide

https://www.burncoose.co.uk/site/content.cfm?ref=Hoya+-+Growing+Guide

https://www.joyusgarden.com/how-to-care-for-a-hoya-houseplant/

Bee kind pottery. 🐝🐝🌱

http://woodlodge.co.uk/beekind

Inspired by the need to create important foraging environments for bumblebees, Woodlodge has developed a beautiful collection of decorative bee pots in the hope of getting more inspiring gardeners to plant pollinator friendly flowers, no matter the outside space.

The bee kind pottery collection (above) is frost proof for year round planting and available in three gorgeous bee designs to encourage people to plant for these important pollinators.

Clare Hurst from Woodlodge- “Flower pots are a great alternative (and just as friendly) to wild meadows in supplying bumblebees with the important foraging environment they need to thrive in your garden. By filling plant pots with flowers that are rich in pollen and nectar, you’ll be able to turn what was an unused space into a mini, bumblebee friendly haven”.

The range is incredibly versatile, allowing you to add colourful, nectar-rich flowers to a patio, terrace, balcony, windowsill or rental spaces.

Woodlodge suggests the following bumblebee friendly flower varieties to get you started, which are easy to grow in containers and will look fabulous in your garden, perennials such as:

Lavendar (Lavandula)

Hydrangeas such as wild or smooth hydrangea

Spring crocus

Check out the bumblebee conservation trust for more bumblebee friendly flower species you can easily plant in your garden.

http://www.bumblebeeconservation.org

Can golf courses provide valuable habitat for bumblebees?🐝

Can golf courses also be beneficial habitats for pollinators?

Golf courses may appear to be manicured greens, bunkers and occasional rough grass but many can be improved to become bumblebee friendly.

The rough areas are already potential habitats for nesting and hibernation and within these rough areas or any corners and crevices that golfers don’t use, flower diversity can definitely be increased. Also ponds can be improved by planting and become beneficial to nature.

The Bumblebee conservation trust (who I am a member of and get regular newsletters and updates from; which is where this story has came from) have been working closely with a golf course on Lydd, Kent to improve the area for bumblebees.

Surrounded by open spaces, an allotment and bumblebee friendly farmers, 4 rare bumblebees have already been spotted;

Moss carder bee (Bombus ruderarius)

Red-shanked carder bee (Bombus muscorum)

Brown-banded carder bee (Bombus humilis)

Ruderal bumblebee (Bombus ruderatus)

In 2014, a Beewalk transact was set up, and since then work has been ongoing to improve the habitat for bumblebees.

In rough areas, black horehound, white dead nettle, mellows and snapped have been planted. Where the grass is naturally short and less fertile, perennial seeds such as red clover, birds foot trefoil and vetches have been added. Yellow flag iris, purple loosestrife and water mint has been planted and encouraged in ponds.

A small piece of unused land adjacent to the car park was turned into a herb garden with comfrey, lambs ear, rosemary, mint, sage and bulbs.

Across the golf course the floristic diversity has been increased and created an area of continuous forage available for all bumblebee species.

If you are a member of a golf course, or live near one, why not suggest to them that they follow the Lydd example and make golf courses bee friendly.

Check out the Bumblebee Conservation Trust

William’s Wordsworth- born 250 years ago this month.

In the world of literary history, there are few bigger names than William’s Wordsworth!

He is the poet who changed the world with his poetry inspiring generations to think differently about languages, politics, psychology and nature.

Wordsworth rejected the highly wrought formalities of 18th century poetry, insisting that plain and simple language was more powerful, especially to explain the beauty of nature.

Wordsworth argued that everyday experiences, as well as heroic epic adventures, were a fit subject for great literature. He is remembered as a poet of spiritual and epistemological speculation, a poet concerned with the human relationship to nature and a fierce advocate of using the vocabulary and speech patterns of common people in poetry. 

With  Samuel Taylor Coleridge he helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature.

Romanticism (also known as the Romantic era) was an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that originated in Europe towards the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1890. Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical. It was partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment, and the scientific rationalization of nature—all components of modernity.  It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, but had a major impact on historiography, education,  the social sciences, and the natural sciences. It had a significant and complex effect on politics, with romantic thinkers influencing liberalism, radicalism, conservatism, and nationalism.

Definition from wikipedia.

Wordsworth’s passion for rural pursuits began at a tender age. The second of five children born to John Wordsworth and Ann Cookson, William Wordsworth was born on 7 April 1770 in what is now named Wordsworth House in Cockermouth, Cumberland,  part of the scenic region in northwestern England known as the Lake District. 

Wordsworth’s father was a legal representative of James Lowther, 1st Earl of Lonsdale and, through his connections, lived in a large mansion in the small town. He was frequently away from home on business, However, he did encourage William in his reading, and in particular set him to commit large portions of verse to memory, including works by Milton, Shakespeare and Spenser. William was also allowed to use his father’s library. William also spent time at his mother’s parents’ house in Penrith, Cumberland, where he was exposed to the moors.

Wordsworth was taught to read by his mother and attended, first, a tiny school of low quality in Cockermouth, then a school in Penrith for the children of upper-class families, where he was taught by Ann Birkett, who insisted on instilling in her students traditions that included pursuing both scholarly and local activities, especially the festivals around Easter, May Day and Shrove Tuesday. Wordsworth was taught both the Bible and the Spectator, but little else. It was at the school in Penrith that he met the Hutchinsons, including Mary, who later became his wife.

In the Lake District he’d spent several idyllic years lake- walking, cliff-climbing, ice-skating and boating (with walking being his favourite activity) – all these experiences that he recalled years later in his autobiographical poem ‘The Prelude’.

Read the full poem using the following link: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45542/the-prelude-book-1-childhood-and-school-time

Though Wordsworth, encouraged by his headmaster William Taylor, had been composing verse since his days at Hawkshead Grammar School, his poetic career begins with this first trip to France and Switzerland. During this period he also formed his early political opinions—especially his hatred of tyranny. These opinions would be profoundly transformed over the coming years but never completely abandoned. Wordsworth was intoxicated by the combination of revolutionary fervor he found in France—he and Jones arrived on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille—and by the impressive natural beauty of the countryside and mountains. Returning to England in October, Wordsworth was awarded a pass degree from Cambridge in January 1791, spent several months in London, and then traveled to Jones’s parents’ home in North Wales. During 1791 Wordsworth’s interest in both poetry and politics gained in sophistication, as natural sensitivity strengthened his perceptions of the natural and social scenes he encountered.

When he fancied a change from the Lakes Wordsworth sometimes took a holiday, as long as it could accommodate a good walk, usually travelling with his friend and fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge- he covered vast swatches of land on foot in England, Scotland and Wales and he wrote as he went.

Often, his verses contain iconic descriptions of specific landscapes and landmarks that can still be observed today; his famous poem ‘lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey’ written in 1798 while on a walking tour of Wales is a good example.

In this poem Wordsworth doesn’t just describe the landscape but also contemplates and reflects on the last time he saw these landscapes and beautiful land formations and how they brought comfort to him.

Wordsworth’s poetry also featured a cast of colourful rural characters, for example; thinkers, peddlers, shepherds and peasants- he often seemed to link the simplicity of these people and their proximity to nature with moral virtue, following the trailblazing philosopher Jean-Jaques Rousseau who had written in praise of the ‘noble savage’ some decades earlier.

Wordsworth offered a new and original focus on the rustic language of the people he met during his rambles, along with the beauty of the landscape and his personal, often regarded as spiritual beliefs.

We can still learn so much from Wordsworth; often walking along the countryside to ease his anxieties to maintain what today we would call ‘good mental health’.

His outlook foreshadows the emphasis placed on the modern mindfulness movement on exercise and communication with nature.

Here are some examples of his beautiful poems!

Check out the following websites to read more of his work:

10 of the Best William Wordsworth Poems Everyone Should Read

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/william-wordsworth

The Eight Greatest Poems of William Wordsworth

https://www.britannica.com/biography/William-Wordsworth