Herbs are extremely beneficial to wildlife, providing a rich source of food and shelter for a variety of animal species. Their strong scent, coupled with the brightly coloured flowers that many herbs produce, attract a wide range of bees, insects and birds. By planting herbs in your garden you can create a wildlife haven for many of these species, that are being threatened by the removal of their natural habitats elsewhere. Planting herbs can also indirectly attract an even wider range a species into your garden. The insects attracted to herbs will in turn attract various insect-eating birds and animals, as a rich feeding ground is suddenly opened up to them. Then as your herbs produce seed, insect eating birds are replaced by seed eating birds. A herb garden can therefore act as a permanent residence for some species, a hunting ground for others, and can quite literally make a difference to a species' survival or extinction.
It is amazing the wildlife you can attract and encourage by planting just one or two herbs, so go on, get planting and see what you can see! As well as making a positive contribution towards wildlife conservation, the pleasure to be gained from watching the wildlife in your garden is as good a reason to plant herbs as any!
BUTTERFLIES and MOTHS are attracted to many varieties of herb. Butterflies in particular like lavender, thyme, and sage; howeve, a particular favourite is marjoram. Also look out for the MAGPIE MOTH around mint.
Sage flowers hold precious nectar for HONEYBEES and BUMBLEBEES and both are attracted to the scent of lemon balm.
Herb loving insects such as LACEWINGS (eaters of greenfly with their green bodies and gossamer wings veined with pale lime colour) are frequent visitors about taller growing herbs. HOVERFLIES (often mistaken for wasps) are also frequent visitors. If you allow some of your plants to grow flower heads and ripen seeds, LADYBIRDS and CARDINAL BEETLES will appear.
Compost is a mixture of decomposed organic materials, such as vegetable plant waste, weeds, paper etc. The mixture looks like a very rich, dark soil which is very rich in nutrients and when added to garden soil can improve its fertility, structure and water holding capacity.
By using compost instead of PEAT you will be helping to protect wildlife for the future. Peat comes from peatlands which are very fragile, threatened habitats where many specialised plants and animals live. In Britain more than 95% of our lowland peat bogs have been destroyed or damaged by peat extraction. Once these special habitats have been destroyed they will never be replaced.
Why not make your own compost by building a heap or by filling a container like an old dustbin? If you do happen to use a bin or decide to make a wooden frame make sure there are vents for good air circulation. Build it up by adding layers of different waste vegetation and cover the top to keep in heat. The compost is ready when your mixture has turned dark brown and crumbly, it will also have an earthy smell.
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