The secret of an insect-friendly garden is lots of flowers. So consider adding a perennial border. Prepare the soil now and do your planting next spring.
Butterflies are drawn to summer flowers with ample supplies of nectar. The best include marjoram, valerian, scabious, Sedum spectabile and Michaelmas daisies, and if there’s room for a shrub, go for the classic, white-flowered butterfly bush, Buddleia davidii. Mauve and purple buddleias attract butterflies, too, but the white ones outdo them.
The same plants will attract bees, too, but you could add lavenders, poppies, pinks, foxgloves and delphiniums for them. It is also worth putting in a few winter-flowering plants for bumblebees, which are active from autumn to spring, long after honeybees have given up.
The choice is limited but they like winter-flowering heathers and Clematis cirrhosa “Freckles” with its pink-spotted white bells from September till early April. Beef them up with Pulmonaria rubra “Redstart”, a cottage-garden charmer with terracotta-pink bells from February. Bees love it.
You can also put in bee boxes.
A lot are never colonised but it’s worth a stab if you site them with the entrance tunnel sloping slightly uphill and facing south, so it is in the sun, with the boxes hidden among plants.