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Gardening Tips & Advice: The Good, the Bad and The Ugly

The Good

Attract Bees and Butterflies (and other insects) to your garden throughout the Summer and into the Autumn, by growing plants to attract them, here are just 2 of many varieties:

Monarda ( Bergamot or Bee Balm ) will tempt them with a nectar filled banquet. The genus is endemic to North America and the species includes both annual and perennial plants, with the aromatic leaves sometimes being used in pot-pourri.

Copyright 2015 Jane McKinerney

They grow in sun or part-shade, but prefer a damp well-drained soil. An added bonus is that Monarda make excellent cut flowers, deadhead them regularly and cut down stems in autumn to the ground.

Buddleja, commonly known as the butterfly bush comprises over 100 species of flowering plants, nearly all of which are shrubs, and they can be found in Asia, Africa and the Americas. They came to England from the Caribbean as long ago as 1730. Buddleja are easy to grow, flower from July to September, and come in lots of shades from white through to deepest purple. Prune hard in spring and deadhead to encourage more flowers; which will also stop any unwanted seedlings.

Hocus Pocus is a recent introduction and has extremely fragrant blooms in a soft yellow, each with an orange heart.

Copyright 2015 Jane McKinerney

Butterflies often prefer a large flower head to land on, whilst bees are able to climb into flowers such as foxgloves, although they like open flowers as well. Bees see colour differently to us humans, and are attracted to blues and yellow (which looks blue to them).

Most herbs are bee magnets, oregano, lemon balm and chives are often covered with masses of bees and insects.

The Bad

Wine Weevils are a pest in many gardens and they are on the prowl now. All of them are female and may lay up to 1,000 eggs during the summer. The larvae are stout creamy white legless grubs, with brown heads, have curved bodies and grow up to 10mm long.

Copyright 2015 Jane McKinerney

Plants in the soil are less at risk of attack, but they will attack attack the roots of any young potted plant, those growing in window boxes - seeming to be fond of Heuchera and Hosta. They also enjoy primulas and cyclamen.

Treat any new plants as suspect - Fill a 3-gallon bucket with water and submerge the plant in its pot for 24-hours. A lot cheaper than buying vine weevil killer and they could drown in about 20 minutes...but to be sure, give them a longer soak, as suggested.

Don't mistake the Ground Beetle for a vine weevil. It's larger, flatter and has a more rounded head. They eat all sorts of things: slugs, snails, caterpillars, weevils, leaf beetles and other garden pests. The Ground Beetle is a friend in your garden.

Copyright 2015 Jane McKinerney

The Ugly

Chafer Grubs and Beetles and your Lawn.

It's a combination of some species of chafer grubs, birds, especially rooks and magpies, and the larger animals, such as foxes and badgers who feed on them, who can turn your precious lawn into what looks like a ploughed field.

Copyright 2015 Jane McKinerney

The Grubs are most active from September - April; whilst the Beetles are active in May and June.

There are currently no chemical controls available to home gardeners.

Words and pictures: Jane McKinerney.


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