Expert Tips To Improve Your Garden’s Biodiversity

4 people standing by farm gate, wooden Weleda Garden sign

Natural bodycare brand Weleda has teamed up with Frances Tophill of Gardeners’ World and Love Your Garden to encourage even more of us to get growing… in harmony with nature.

  • 26.7 million people in UK grew their own fruit, veg and herbs in the last year
  • Twice as many 18–34-year-olds (40%) vs the over 55s (19%) grew plants for the first time
  • For almost a quarter (21%), growing a plant was more rewarding than work achievements
  • Over a third (34%) picked up their trowels to improve their mental wellbeing
  • Weleda has set up an online open garden to inspire you as you explore

New research from Weleda reveals most Brits (46%) grew their own fruit, veg and herbs last year because they found it rewarding, while 40% simply love the taste of their home-grown produce. Herbs were the most popular plant for the new younger gardening community, with almost a quarter (23%) getting involved.

Frances Tophill visited Weleda’s gardens in Derbyshire to launch the  Get Green Fingers campaign. Pic: Fabio De Paola/PA Wire

In terms of what delivers the most gardening satisfaction across the UK, growing mint and tomatoes took the top spot across the board.

In Edinburgh, the most popular crop was potatoes (37%), while people in Northern Ireland were most delighted with their carrots (31%). Nottingham was the region that loved Brussels sprouts the most, with over a quarter of people (26%) saying they found growing them rewarding.

The most popular herbs to grow across the nation included mint, rosemary and parsley, with a 146% increase in online searches during lockdown on how to grow them.

Over a third (37%) of Brits intend to continue gardening post pandemic and 19% didn’t let their initial failures put them off. Almost two thirds (62%) say connecting with nature has had a positive impact on their mood, which is perhaps why having access to a garden or communal green space has become such a priority for so many (63%).

“Gardening helps nourish us”

Pic:  Fabio De Paola/PA Wire

Weleda has partnered with expert gardener and TV presenter Frances Tophill, to encourage everyone to keep planting and consider ways they can increase biodiversity post-pandemic.

Growing things and connecting with nature through gardening helps nourish us on so many levels. Frances will be sharing advice for aspiring gardeners, including simple tips on how to encourage more wildlife in your garden.

Frances says, “I’m so pleased to be teaming up with Weleda for its ‘Get Green Fingers’ campaign, to encourage everyone to reconnect with nature for their own health and wellbeing, and to support the biodiversity of the planet.

“Not only do we benefit from the nutrition of our fresh home-grown produce, but I have to say it definitely tastes better than anything you would find in a supermarket. In addition, getting outside in the fresh air is beneficial for our skin, our bodies and our mental health.

“There is so much that we, as human beings, can get from our connection with nature. It gives us a sense of community that makes us feel like part of the world we live in. I think that’s what we need as human beings.

Tomatoes growing in greenhouse

Pic: iStockphoto

“In the last challenging year, as a nation we have realised how simple pleasures can sustain us. Many people were connecting with nature for the first time. We have all connected more deeply with nature through getting outdoors and engaging with the wildlife in our own gardens.

“But gardening is not only great for us. Gardening can be really good for the planet too, and I think connecting with nature during lockdown has got people thinking more about how we can protect it in the future.

A green pioneer

“Weleda is considered the original ‘green’ beauty brand. For 100 years it has been growing plants organically and pioneering in everything from biodynamic gardening to setting the standards for sustainable business practices. All this while creating much-loved products which have stood the test of time.

“Weleda is sending a free seed card to customers purchasing from throughout the campaign, which is embedded with organic flower seeds and simple to plant out in the garden or a patio container, to encourage us all to get green fingers.”

We can all help save wild species

Bird washing with striking orange breast, in Bath Botanical Gardens;

Pic: Shutterstock

Jayn Sterland, Managing Director, Weleda UK & Ireland, says, “It’s really exciting to see many of us now reconnecting with nature through gardening.

“We can all make a real difference in supporting our local biodiversity by becoming more green-fingered. Biodiversity is the diversity of life in all its forms, and we are dependent on it to provide us with food, medicine, and raw materials.

“Since the 1970s we’ve seen a decline of 68% in our wildlife, much of this due to habitat loss. Since the 1930s we have lost a whopping 97% of our wildflower meadows resulting in one in five British wildflowers being at risk. Gardening and growing your own are great ways we can all support the diversity of life all around us. So we are encouraging everyone to care for nature through gardening.”

A fifth of Brits say doing their bit for the environment is their reason for growing their own produce and 18% say they noticed more ‘life’ in their garden since they started gardening.

Brits are supporting the biodiversity of their green spaces by

  • having a bird bath/feeder (38%)
  • growing butterfly attracting flowers (37%)
  • staying away from chemical pesticides (28%)
  • more than one in ten even leave areas of their lawn unmown to encourage more wildlife (12%).

Expert tips to make a difference

Pic: Fabio De Paola/PA Wire

Frances says, “Making your garden more biodiverse means creating an environment that is not just about you and the plants you grow but encouraging all the world’s species into it too. That includes fungus, bacteria, insects, birds, even foxes. This can help support the whole ecosystem around us which we are custodians of when we garden.”

Frances’ top tips to encourage biodiversity in your garden include:

  1. Introduce water into your garden. If you have water, then you will see different life cycles of all types of insects start to appear.
  2. Grow some pollen rich flowers such as sunflowers or lavender. This will give those insects something to feed on. Once you have insects in your garden, then all the other wildlife will follow
  3. Include lots of hedging and planting corridors in and around the garden to allow small mammals and birds to safely move around. And cut little holes in the fences on either side of the garden so that hedgehogs can get in and out
  4. Make sure you have flowers for as much of the year as possible and choose varieties that produce fruits and berries. Include white, scented flowers that are at their best at night as that’s when pollinators like bats and moths are most active.
  5. If you’re protecting your plants from pests, avoid using any chemicals that will poison lots of different species and work their way through the food chain. Always use netting that’s wildlife friendly – easy for flying insects to spot, with gaps no wider than 5mm so that nothing can get stuck halfway through.
The European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus: Linnaeus, 1758), also known as the West European hedgehog or common hedgehog,

Pic: iStockphoto

Take a virtual stroll…

For more information on biodiversity and Weleda, please visit Weleda’s new digital Open Garden to take a virtual stroll in nature. The app offers 360° views of Weleda Gardens from around the world. There’s also expert advice on topics such as biodiversity, climate, soil and sourcing.

Weleda would love you to share your gardening experiences and what you are doing to make your garden more biodiverse using #getgreenfingers and tagging @weledauk. So please get involved, and let us know what you’re growing in your own gardens.