I'm a real sucker for 'finding' a wildlife-friendly plant that I haven't encountered before. And this week's 'discovery' was courtesy of that most magnificent of gardens - the RHS's Wisley, in Surrey.

The plant was just a single clump in the little walled garden, and the Honeybees were overcome with excitement.

Here it is for those that like the game of identifying the plant before I give its name away.

As you can see, it forms quite a dense clump of rather large, maple-like leaves, with a candelabra of strong, upright flower stems, topped with whit bottlebrush heads of fluffy stamens.

This is the herbaceous perennial Actaea japonica, the Japanese Bugbane. You may be familiar with its relative, Actaea simplex, which is more widely available and is a whizz for autumn butterflies.

All the Bugbanes need a rich and preferably moist soil, and a rather shady position. My soil is too dry for Actaea simplex, which also gets nibbled by the snails and slugs when the leaves are young, so I'm guessing I'd struggle with this one too. All are also poisonous.

But if you have rather damp conditions in a 'woodland garden' or area that is shaded for some of the day, and want to see your Honeybees in a frenzy, then why not seek this out?


  • Hi Meesha

    The good thing with gardening for wildlife is that there are thousands of solutions to what is 'good' and what isn't, and the fact that you're front garden is already packing in the ladybirds, bees and birds means that already it is doing wonders.

    Given that you seem to be doing well with random seedlings popping up between your gravel, they are likely to have self-seeded this year and come up next. A gravel bed like this can be really warm and well-draining, so there are other seeds you could add to the mix, things such as poached egg plant and scorpionweed, Californian poppy and Moroccan toadflax. Or you could dig in amongst the gravel an airy sea of Verbena bonariensis, floating above all the opium poppies, to bring in the butterflies too. I think your neighbours would be even more wowed.

    And excuse the plug, but if you can get hold of my book, RSPB Gardening for Wildlife (you don't have to buy it -  you could get it from your local library, say), I've put a catalogue of 400 different wildlife-friendly plants in there :-)

  • Hi Juno

    Wildlife Friendly had Carol Klein come round with the BBC Gardeners World crew at the start of this season - fantastic!

  • I want a wildlife front garden, at the moment my front garden is stoned this year I had loads of Opium poppies and daisy like weeds and other pink flowered weeds, the bees and birds loved them and the ladybirds laid their eggs on them and I watched them hatch from the larva into little shinney orange ladybirds with 2 black spots once they dried they flew away.

    I even had the postman, binmen, window cleaner and neighbours watching and asking how they where doing, felt like i was running a nursery it was brilliant, I never planted any of the above weeds etc they just appeared like magic.  

    Now can you tell me which are the best wildlife plants to go for, for the front garden, believe it or not some of my neighbours and friends want the turn part of their gardens into wildlife sections.

    They got a cheek as they all said at first my front garden was terrible with all the weeds when they first started growing haha.

  • Having seen your garden on the telly, Wildlife Friendly, it looked like perfection to me :-)