Non-native species offer more support for our native pollinators.
A Helping Hand for our Struggling Pollinators
A Pictorial Meadow is different to a native-only meadow in a number of ways. The most significant difference is the inclusion of non-native species and cultivars in our meadow seed mixes and PMturf™. These species, identified and sourced from around the world by our intrepid modern-day plant hunters, go through our careful and methodical review program to ensure they are non-invasive and will bring multiple benefits for people, pollinators, and wildlife.
Meadow benefits for people
For people, a Pictorial Meadow provides a spectacular and uniquely colourful show across a longer season that develops and changes as different species come to the fore across the year. Our meadows have often been described as having a “firework effect” in that they explode with spectacular, ever changing colour. Many of our native species in the UK have a short flowering period of just a few weeks each spring meaning that a purely native meadow could never offer the same longevity and variety of colour.
Meadow benefits for pollinators and wildlife
Of course, a meadow is so much more that just a spectacular display of colour. Meadows have an important role to play in supporting our native pollinators and wildlife. Much of the research we have completed over the last 20 years has looked at how we can develop and build our meadow mixes to best support biodiversity around the UK. Our own findings have made clear to us the important role non-native species have in supporting UK biodiversity, and these findings have been supported by research published by the British Ecological Society and the RHS.
Their four-year study looked at the frequency of visits by pollinators to a number of test plots planted in RHS gardens featuring native, non-native, and mixed species. The findings of the research suggested that whilst early in the season the native plots received more visits, the limited flowering period of the native species resulted in the non-native species receiving more visits later in the season. This highlights the important role non-native species have as a food and pollen source late into the season when native species are simply not available.
The key to abundant pollinators, according to this research, was high floral availability, with this being better provided by the plots that contained a mixture of native and non-native species. These findings support our own research, and it is for these reasons that we include a mixture of native and non-native species and cultivars in all our mixes. Put simply, a Pictorial Meadow provides more food for hungry pollinators and a more spectacular display for you. A fantastically floral win-win!
Salisbury, A., Armitage, J., Bostock, H., Perry, J., Tatchell, M., Thompson, K., 2015. Enhancing gardens as habitats for flower-visiting aerial insects (pollinators): should we plant native or exotic species? Journal of Applied Ecology 52, 1156–1164. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.12499