Consider wildflowers

This year, consider making room in your garden for native wildflowers. The easiest and most environmentally friendly way to do this is to let the buttercups, dandelions and hawkbits in your lawn grow tall and flower.

The buttercups will attract short-tongued native bees such as the large scissor bee (Chelostoma florisomne), and early bumble bee (Bombus pratorum), species which can’t reach the hidden nectaries of bell shaped flowers. The large scissor bee is also called the sleepy carpenter bee. Its specific name, florisomne, means flower sleeper and in bad weather this bee can be found curled up, apparently asleep, inside buttercup flowers.

The dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) in your lawn will probably be growing next to close relatives, yellow composites like cat’s ear (Hypochaeris radicata), various hawkbits and hawk’s beards, all very difficult to tell apart. These offer safe landing platforms and rich resources for nectar feeders like the ashy mining bee (Andrena cineraria) as well as the common honey bee, but like all cichorioideae, they also produce masses of pollen, attracting pollen beetles, pollen mites and drone flies.

When environmentalists talk of pollinators, we are too inclined to think of honey bees, fat bottomed bumble bees and the gauzy coloured wings of butterflies. But if we provide the right flowers, common native species with long repeating flowering seasons, hundreds of species of pollinators will appear in your garden: beetles, ladybirds and flies as well as a dozen species of solitary bees.

If you are lucky enough to find bird’s-foot trefoil growing in your lawn you might even attract the rare wood white butterfly (Leptidea sinapis) or the common blue (Polyommatus icarus) both of which will lay their eggs on its leaves.

Try it. Less mowing more wildlife: win win.

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