Fill your garden with wildlife – part one

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Karen Murphy explains how you can attract the birds that will help
your garden to thrive this season

A garden full of wildlife, pollinating plants and keeping pests at bay, is a thriving one. Birds play a vital part in ensuring our ecosystems thrive, helping to scatter seed and tidy up, making nests from debris or eating rotting fruit. Not to mention the many thousands of snails, slugs and aphids that would ravage our plots if they weren’t eaten by birds, which are also such a joy to watch and listen to all year round.

Top 3 plants for birds

Birds mainly like berried or seeding plants, as well as plants that provide shelter.

1 Teasels

Thistle-flowered perennial through summer, providing structure to borders and loved by bees and butterflies. After flowering it dies off and birds eat the brown seeds. Leave all winter and cut down in spring. 


2 Sunflowers

Once they’ve finished flowering, leave the heads for the birds, or cut down and leave around the garden as the seeds are oil-rich and nutritious. Sow seed directly now in full sun, or indoors before planting out. 


3 Honeysuckle

These glorious plants fit nicely into tight spots of the garden, liking full sun or a bit of shade, and have the most intoxicating perfume. They’re bee-friendly and great for birds as shelter and food. Plant evergreens now.


Hidden helpers! 

Hoverflies: Invaluable pollinators, the larvae love aphids. Attract them with fennel, yarrow and sedums.

Lacewings: Another consumer of aphids, lacewings like hidey-hole plants such as phlomis which provide homes for them in winter. 

  • Karen writes for Garden News magazine which is packed full of tips, inspiration, plant and product news and great money-saving offers! On sale every Tuesday, or subscribe and try your first four issues for just £1. Call 01858 438884 or visit T&Cs apply.