Great benefits of gardening

Most gardens are left to their own devices during the winter. But with spring just around the corner, many gardeners will be looking to get outdoors in their wellies for a bit of tidying up and planning. Gardening is not only rewarding in terms of creating a natural and beautiful haven but it also offers many physical and mental advantages. Gardening is proven to be a great way to relieve stress as gardeners focus on something other than work and family life.

Simply being outdoors and active in the garden, whether you’re weeding, raking leaves, wheeling a barrow, chopping wood or pruning plants, offers a great for of calorie-burning exercise.

Now gardening advisors are calling for the UK public to do even more in their gardens – and turn their green and tranquil plots into wildlife havens to save the country's pollinating insects.

A new BBC TV series, Bees, Butterflies and Blooms, highlights the decline in the number of pollinators, which are vital to the production of the vast majority of the fruits and vegetables. These are the very fruit and veg that humans also require to stay fit and healthy.

Sadly, research has shown that more than three quarters of Britain's butterfly species have declined in the past 20 years and Britain's wildflower meadows and grasslands have also declined by 98 per cent.

Good news for butterflies, bees and insects

A recent Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) Plant for Life Environment report also found that one in three people are now doing things specifically to encourage wildlife into the garden - which is an increase of a third compared to four years ago.

The survey also revealed that 75% of garden owners agree or strongly agree with the statement: "It's important to me that my garden supports wildlife like birds and bees.” But still more can be done

How to create an insect-friendly garden

Choose nectar-rich flowers such as Buddleja, Foxgloves, Honeysuckle, Cornflowers, Lavender and Sedum, which provide a food source for pollinating insects, butterflies and bees.

Insects are attracted to bright and soft colours so having a mixture of these and nectar-rich plants will encourage them to keep coming back to your garden year after year.

Bees will also benefit from some artificial shelter and there is a wide range of bug homes and boxes you can buy for your garden or alternatively make for yourself.

Ideal outdoor clothing for gardening

Comfortable and robust outdoor clothing is vital for gardening. Choose waterproof jackets and trousers and layer thinner baselayers underneath. Gardening can make you warm and sweaty so follow our guidelines on baselayers.

Choose wellies or walking shoes or walking boots for warm and dry your feet. An old pair of thin ski gloves or gloves for walking will be great for gardening on cold days or for keeping your hands clean when weeding.

Most waterproof outers can be washed clean in the washing machine so there is no need to worry about getting outdoor clothing dirty.

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