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A focus on wildlife friendly gardening

Colourful containers filled with pollen-rich plants and exciting bug hotels were displayed by community groups in a sweeping wildflower meadow

wild flower meadowOur Perfect for Pollinators and Bug Hotel Competitions, held for the first time in the grounds of the iconic Chatsworth House, aimed to increase awareness of biodiversity and gardening for wildlife within local communities.

Why are pollinators and wildlife so important?

In recent years our native pollinators such as butterflies, bees, moths and hoverflies have been in real decline. Pollinators are essential, moving from flower to flower in our gardens and fields collecting nectar and pollen. They are crucial for the growth of most flowers, fruits and some vegetables. Whilst the traditional habitats of our pollinators have been disappearing, we can encourage them into our gardens, even if we live in towns and cities. Bug hotels provide attractive habitats for all sorts of wildlife whilst pollinator friendly planting in pots or the garden itself, can create essential food for lots of insects. 

Perfect for Pollinators Competition

The RHS invited Britain in Bloom groups, It’s Your Neighbourhood groups, RHS Affiliated Societies and other community groups to highlight the need to encourage pollinators by giving them striking containers. Each group had to pick 70% of their plants from one of three Perfect for Pollinators lists and use them, alongside their own plants, to create the perfect planter. Displayed in a meadow full of rustic wildflower planting some containers featured herbs, strawberries, tomatoes and French beans whilst others contained companion planting, such as marigolds, to deter pests. 

Bug Hotels Competition

Schools were invited to design and create exciting bug hotels that explore inspiring architecture from the past, present and future. There was a bug hotel inspired by the Stone Age and based on a traditional round house with logs, dried leaves and sticks, a pyramid with a selection of tiles, bricks and a decorative roof garden and a depiction of London's Big Ben, using feathers, egg shells, pine cones and shells. 

Competition results 

The planters and bug hotels from both competitions showed that you can create interesting and dynamic structures that wildlife will love to nestle in whilst adding a statement feature to your garden.

Winners Perfect for Pollinators:
1st Hogweed Garden Club with 'Hotel Bestoila – What a lovely place'
2nd Sage Green Fingers with 'Therapy Through Flowers'
3rd Palterton Allotment Association with 'High Pollen Count Today'

Winners Bug Hotels:
1st Pilsley C of E Primary School
2nd Mundy C of E Junior School
3rd FitzHerbert C of E Primary school

Ideas to take home

  • Sticks, wood or bamboo canes can be drilled to make intricate homes for bees and other insects
  • Wooden boxes placed under piles of sticks and leaves in a sheltered corner are ideal for hedgehogs
  • An upturned flower pot put in a sunny place could provide a nesting site for bumblebees
  • Stones and tiles provide cool and damp conditions for frogs and toads to live in
  • Plant daisy-type flowers and umbels to attract hoverflies and bees whilst tubular flowers are loved by butterflies and moths

Get involved 

Interested in gardening for wildlife? Follow our Wild About Gardens campaign to find out more about pollinators, read about wildlife in the garden or promise to green up your grey space at home or in your community. 

hovver fly on a purple flowerladybird on a yellow flowerbutterfly on buddleja


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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.