Jo Whiley’s 5 top tips to making a musical garden

Posted on: 23 August 2016 by 50connect editorial

An alternative approach to creating a majestic garden, Jo Whiley shares her 5 top tips for making your garden sing!

Rather than always focusing on the athletics of our gardens, Jo Whiley and Wyevale Garden Centres explore the sensory opportunities you can creative in the garden and share top tips on how to make a musical masterpiece with nature.

Creating a buzz

If you want to create a buzz with bug life, think all things bright and beautiful. When choosing flowers, mix up herbaceous perennials, annuals and biennials. They all flower at different times – herbaceous perennials such as lavender, geranium and salvia come back year after year; annuals like daisies and begonias flower once a year, usually in spring and summer; and biennials like hollyhocks and foxgloves, every two years. Planting these will create a constant source of nectar for bees, butterflies and other insects all year round.

If you have the extra space, then a herb patch is always a great addition. Bumble bees and solitary bees are attracted to rosemary in particular, whilst other herb garden favourites like lavender, sage, oregano and thyme all attract bees, butterflies and a host of other insects. If you leave some of your herbs to flower you’ll also be providing a rich food source for these little critters, leaving your garden buzzing with life and the hum of activity on warm days.

If you’ve got room for trellis, try some trailing plants like clematis or sweet peas. Hanging baskets are another great choice – the african daisy, fuschsia or busy lizzie are great for this and bees love them. Vegetables grow well in window boxes and, if you want to see a cabbage butterfly up close, go for broccoli, cabbage or flowering kale.

Tune into the birdsong

Any avid gardener will understand the beauty of birdsong. The important thing to bear in mind is that birds need four things – something to eat and drink, somewhere to shelter, somewhere to wash and somewhere to breed. So grass, trees, shrubs and water are essential.

Hedges, bushes and shrubs are perfect hiding and perching places for birds and provide food like berries, fruit and insects for them to eat. Thoughtfully placed bird boxes make crucial spots for nesting. Birds of all kinds are reliant on trees for food and shelter, and hanging a few bird feeders from the more sturdy branches creates additional resting places. Additionally, bird baths provide a watering hole and bathing point for smaller birds. Your lawn also has lots of different seeds that birds like, such as meadow grass, buttercup and dandelion.

Having a splash

Garden ponds create ideal breeding conditions for frogs, newts, and toads; and they attract all sorts of fascinating insects like the skater, water boatman and dragonflies. Whilst you can enjoy the gentle croak of the amphibians, you can also listen to birds, insects and other animals, like hedgehogs, having a splash as they flock to it for a drink, a feast or to freshen up.

The morning hush

Whether you’re an early riser or want to create a peaceful haven to relax in after a busy day, the rustling of leaves can send you into complete tranquillity. Swish, tall grasses like miscanthus and greater quaking grass make a lovely rustling sound, even in gentle breezes; as do fine-leaved trees like birch and robinia, although these trees must be watered everyday if planted during the summer season. Clunk-bamboo makes a lovely hollow knocking sound when it bumps together and bigger canes can be turned into wind chimes.

All creatures great and small

If you’re starting from scratch, beds and borders with wavy edges can look much more attractive and informal. Plant your larger shrubs and fruit trees towards the back of borders and then lower-growing shrubs such as lavender at the front. Use the spaces in between for different types of flowers. This will create a varied habitat, full of light, shade and hiding places for birds and smaller mammals like mice and voles. You could also add in an insect hotel or butterfly feeder; nestle these in amongst the foliage to supply shelter and food for the smaller insects.

Planting climbers against fences, on a trellis or against the side of a shed, will create a tangle of branches – great for insects and secretive birds like the wren. Honeysuckle or ivy trailing over a fence also acts as a ‘ladder’ that lets small mammals and insects travel between one garden and another.

Gude provided by Wyevale Garden Centres, for more information and planting tips visit

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