Planting with pollinators in mind

As part of Luck Yard’s sustainability focus in 2019, Tone asked me to write a short piece about the importance of gardening – not only for the positive effects of the activity for ourselves (see more about Luck Yard’s gardening for mental well-being programme here:, but for the positive effects planting flowers can have in the face of declining insect numbers and increasing lack of wild space. Flowers and pollinators have a vital relationship within nature and life as we know it. Our insect co-workers not only pollinate flowers to help them reproduce, but our crops as well.

Whilst roadside verges, scrub lands and wildflower meadows were once abundant sources of nectar with a variety of food for bees, hover flies, butterflies and other insect species – it is incredibly sad that unfortunately these spaces are disappearing.  97% of wildflower meadows have been lost in the UK since 1950. There is a cultural aversion to messy or overgrown spaces, ‘weed’ laden spaces – yet it is these pockets of wildness that provide the pollinators with food, and keep the cycles of nature turning.

It is now said our gardens have become vital places for the potential to provide bees and other pollinators with the sustenance they need. By planting native pollinator friendly flowers in any space you have (from hanging baskets, to plant pots on patios, or even making a mini meadow in your garden), you will not only be helping the cause to save the bees, and other species of insects that are also declining at an alarming rate – but also create a beautiful rewilded space in your patch!

There is something incredibly satisfying in planting a seed and watching it grow and bloom, or eating your own homegrown fruit and vegetables. But by thinking of the insects, and watching bumblebees, butterflies and other pollinators enjoy the fruits of your labour, you can know for sure that you have helped nature recover the damage it has suffered, even in your own little world.

  • You can read more about planting for pollinators on the Friends of the Earth website
  • Plant only native species, otherwise this leads to problems with invasive plants that have stronger genetics than local native wildflowers, and can end up damaging a balanced ecosystem.
  • Garden organically. Do not use pesticides of herbicides to get rid of weeds or other bugs. These are harsh and deadly man-made chemicals that last in the food web and hurt species of bird, mammal and pollinator insects themselves. Anyuse of weed-killer or chemical spray will harm rather than help the local environment.
  • It is also worth noting the importance of ‘bee hotels’ for solitary bees,, or creating a pond for water species, and also leaving a patch in your garden for nature to take over (if you have space.) This means without any human intervention at all you will see the benefits of creating a rewilded area. It may look ‘messy’ but it is within this freedom and time, that natural relationships and wildflowers will soon flourish.
  • Bees, hover flies, butterflies, wasps, beetles, flies, mosquitos, ants and moths are all insect pollinators.

Anna Garrett is an artist who adopts a methodology of drawing as ecological activism. She focusses on the importance of pollinators in multi-species ecologies, making drawings to emphasise the aliveness of in-between patches in urban and suburban environments. She is graduating from Goldsmiths MFA Fine Art this year.