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New Year snowdrops, RHS Plants for Bugs project results and cold frame!

Date posted: Wednesday 3rd January 2018

New Year snowdrops, RHS Plants for Bugs project results and cold frame!

Happy New Year – let’s hope it’s a greener, more environmentally friendly 2018! Got back from snowbound and freezing Ohio to discover this lovely snowdrop in full bloom under the little apple tree.

Interesting results from a RHS Plants for Bugs scientific project – research into plants and plant-dwelling invertebrates, following Plants for Bugs 1, researching pollinators and native/non-native plants. In this second project native and non-native plants were studied for their value to a range of species that live on plants: herbivores, feeding on living plants (shield bugs, aphids and caterpillars); detritivores that feed on dead material (woodlice, springtails); omnivores that feed on plants and animals (earwigs, harvestmen) and predators (ladybirds and many other beetles, wasps and spiders) that eat other animals. The plant species covered natives, near-natives (originating from the northern hemisphere but not naturally found in the UK and exotics, plants from the southern hemisphere. The overall results suggest that:
a) the more plant cover the better, regardless of the plants’ origins – the more vegetation cover, the more invertebrates collected, giving a clear message for those of us who want to encourage wildlife into our gardens/allotments – put in plenty of plants and let them grow to fill the space available.
b) Natives are better than non-native but not by much – planting garden-worthy natives is clearly good for wildlife, providing more prey for predators.
c) Near-native plants were not much less welcoming to invertebrates.
d) Spiders don’t mind what sort of plants they were on, plant structure being more important than plant species.
e) Greater plant cover can compensate for lack of native plant species.

Recommendations for wildlife gardeners: put in plenty of plants and let them grow vigorously; the more nectar-rich flowers in your garden throughout the year, the more pollinators it will attract; introducing native British and northern hemisphere cousin plants will attract more invertebrates; plant natives such as hemp agrimony, primrose and purple loosestrife; extend the flowering season with some late-flowering exotics for pollinators to feed on.
For the full article see: The Garden January 2018 rhs.org.uk.

Going up to our plot on New Year’s day we saw quite a sizeable group of redwings busy on the paths. They and the fieldfares are a feature of winter on the site.

I’m very pleased with my Xmas present – handhewn cold frame now in situ and ready for the sweet peas and broad beans, germinated at home.

Very sad sight of this deceased fox, looking very peaceful, but unusual for it to be out in the open and not in it’s earth or hidden in the undergrowth. We are very much hoping it’s not been the victim of rat poison or any other toxics used deliberately to kill rats or other pests on plots.