Celebrating Butterfly Awareness Day

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The 2nd June was a cause for celebration at the beauty that is the butterfly. Every year BEAD (Butterfly Education and Awareness Day) allows you to learn all about the stunning insects and their habitats, creating a cross-curricular learning environment where you can find out various fascinating facts about the incredible creatures.

Butterflies play an important role when it comes to flowers due to their pollinating capabilities. Pollen collects on the body of the butterfly and is transferred onto the flower that it next encounters, spreading the pollen and thus continuing the cycle of pollination.

As we celebrate butterfly awareness day, find out which flowers attract the special insect, and how you may be able to attract them to your garden.

 

What Flowers Attract Butterflies?

With butterflies, you must incorporate plants that best serve the needs of all of their life stages to attract them. As is common with most animals, the insects need a space to lay eggs and also need food plants for their larvae.

Adult butterflies are attracted to bright colours such as red, yellow, orange, pink and purple blossoms. Here we have listed some of the top flowers and plants which you can use to attract butterflies:

· Buddleia

· Verbena

· Knapweed

· Ivy

· Eupatorium

· Marjoram

· Michaelmas Daisy

· Lavender

· Scabious

· Hebe

Find out more about these plants and what species of butterfly they attract here.

 

How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden

Butterflies are a beautiful and welcome visitor to any garden, however, in recent years some species have seen a decline. Many ask the question; how do you attract butterflies to your garden? Here at Planteria Group, we have the answers.

One of the main elements that will attract butterflies to your garden is planting pollinator friendly flowers. Ones rich in nectar, such as wildflowers, are a great choice.

Why not create a butterfly garden? This will provide the resources to sustain resident breeding populations of native butterflies. Take a look at the top 10 plants for butterflies..

If you are a lover of butterflies, you can transform your space into a butterfly garden with these easy steps:

· Avoid insecticides.

· Plant nectar rich flowers, such as bramble.

· Keep nectar and host plants close together.

 

Celebrate National Insect Week

18th – 24th June hosts National Insect Week, an event which aims to educate and raise awareness, by encouraging people of all ages to learn more fascinating information about insects. This fun filled week sees hundreds of events and activities across the UK, giving you the chance to discover insects you might not have known existed. It also gives you the opportunity the meet the entomologists who study them, answering any curious question you might have.

The week is supported by a large number of partner organisations who are interested in science, natural history and the conservation of insects, helping to reach a wide audience and create maximum interest for those who attend.

One of the partner organisations is the Butterfly Conservation, whose aim is to save butterflies and moths. Through their work, they have been able to raise awareness about the decline in numbers that many species of butterflies and moths are currently experiencing.

Butterflies are a beautiful part of nature, playing an important role in pollinating flowers. Will you be celebrating National Insect Week? As a specialist in plants and flowers for business, we offer a range of plants and we can help you turn your outside areas into butterfly attraction zones giving you an eco-friendly space that can be enjoyed by your colleagues and the local butterfly population.

If you would like to find out more about our services, contact a member of the team today by calling 0345 505 333. Alternatively, email enquiries@planteriagroup.com with any enquiries – our friendly team will be more than happy to help.

Bee Aware

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Bees have been getting quite a lot of ‘air-time’ of late, but for all the wrong reasons. They are in danger.

 

Bee populations are declining

Since 2010, there has been a 45% decline in the number of commercial honey bees. Pesticides play a large part, but agricultural techniques have changed too over the decades, with an emphasis on increasing productivity which has meant a loss of the bees’ natural habitat as wildflowers have disappeared from our countryside. It has been estimated that we have lost 97% of our flower-rich grassland since the 1930s.

Just why is this so important?
Bees are the world’s most important pollinator of food crops. It’s estimated that one third of the food we consume each day relies on pollination, mainly by bees. These crops include, vegetables, rapeseed and sunflowers as well as cocoa beans, tea and coffee. Crops used to feed livestock also rely on that same pollination.

It’s not just food crops that the bees play a huge part in, cotton crops rely on bee pollination too. The annual global cotton crop is estimated to be worth $170bn.

 

So what can we do about it?

On an individual level you can include bee friendly planting into your own garden, balcony or window boxes. In the UK alone, domestic gardens cover over one million acres.

  • Think about adding bee boxes for them to nest.
  • Bees love flowering plants which are rich in pollen and nectar.
  • Lavender is an easy to care for option that bees love.
  • Avoid using pesticides, especially ‘bug killing’ sprays.

Wildflowers are important for bees, so why not allow a space in your garden to let things run a little wild, and encourage bees and other insects for flourish?

At Planteria we use flowering bedding plants for our client’s outside spaces, and we are fans of including lavender for its attractive colour and fragrance as well as its bee-friendly factor. We also grow sedum for green roofs, the bee’s just can’t resist it, so it makes a perfect green roof for city locations which are so often lacking in natural bee habitats.

Go to http://bumblebeeconservation.org/about-bees/why-bees-need-help/ for more information and to find out what else you can do.

Celebrating National Parks Week

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There are many things associated with the UK: tea that solves a multitude of ills, rain that never ceases and queuing that is a national sport in itself. Yet this sceptered isle is also renowned for its green spaces and as such boasts an astonishing fifteen National Parks across the nation.

This month, a week-long calendar of events is taking place to celebrate our National Parks and encourage us to get out and explore them.

From Sunday 22nd to Sunday 29th July a range of activities that the whole family can get involved in will be taking place up and down the country and here  at Planteria Group we take a look at what’s going on and why you should get involved.

 

A Walk on the Wildside

Amongst the many studies that support the theory of the benefits that nature has on our mental health as well as our physical well-being, there is increasing focus on how interaction with animals influences this too.

With that in mind, the wildlife-friendly events organised as part of this week-long festival provide the perfect opportunity to get involved.

If you’re local to Exmoor, why not join the Evening Deer Search for a two-hour walk over three miles looking for the Red Deer at the Exmoor National Park on Tuesday 24th July starting at 7pm? Naturally shy beasts, it might be worth taking binoculars to ensure you catch a glimpse, but no dogs please!

Earlier on in the same day, the Yorkshire Dales National Park hosts a Secret Squirrel event in which a specialist guide will show you how to look for the squirrels and other wildlife that make the peaceful woods their home. Being a gentle afternoon stroll covering just a mile and a half, this is an ideal event for young and old alike.

 

Treasure Hunters

A fantastic family event takes place on the Thursday of National Parks Week on the Cleveland Way National Trail, part of the North York Moors National Park. Taking around two hours to complete and costing five pounds per family, this fun Geocaching activity involves using a GPS unit provided as part of the event to locate clues that have been hidden in boxes. What’s more, as long as your dogs are on a short lead, they are welcome to help sniff out the clues!

The little ones can take charge with the Young Explorers Smugglers’ Treasure Hunt – with one nearly every day of the event – and use their smugglers’ map to search for hidden treasure, meeting at the Danby centre.

 

Getting Active

If you fancy something more physical, the Run ‘n’ Park event at Balloch on Saturday 28th July might just be for you; with a 2k and a 5k course marked out taking in the stunning, iconic views of Loch Lomond and with no official recording of times, you can take this event at your own pace and enjoy the great outdoors.

The kids can get involved at the New Forest National Park on each day of the festival on the Holiday Adventure Days. With activities throughout the whole day that they can enjoy, you can guarantee they’ll have a good night’s sleep after all that fun.

 

Getting Crafty

If you’re more of a hands-on type of person, there are plenty of great events for you to take advantage of. From dry-stone walling, letter-carving and archery to machine embroidery, there’s plenty of opportunity to learn a new skill in beautiful outdoor settings. Take a look at  the diary of events to find an activity near you.

Of course, you don’t have to wait for an official week of events to enjoy our National Parks – nor are you only restricted to visiting a National Park to reap the benefits of spending time outdoors amongst nature.

Dr Andrea Mechelli of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at Kings College London, acknowledges that whilst it has long been understood that there is a positive link between contact with nature and health – in particular mental health – the lack of ability to gather qualitative data has led to little compelling evidence to support this.

With this in mind, he collaborated with the developers of an app called Urban Mind which tracked users’ movements through mobile devices and randomly asked them questions about their feelings and their immediate environment.

The findings were quite staggering, including not only demonstrating this positive link between the outdoors and health but also providing surprising but measurable results in terms of the length of time these positive effects lasted. He found, for example, that a single exposure to nature such as a walk or even time spent in a garden can have beneficial effects lasting up to seven hours.

Additional studies have shown how incorporating a green outdoor space in other settings, such as hospitals and care homes, has had a positive influence on successful outcomes for patients in relation to aiding their ultimate recovery in the case of the former and their improved well-being whilst being cared for in both circumstances.

So, the recent trend for providing an outdoor space in unexpected locations such as offices has been shown to be more than just improving the aesthetics; it can actually have a beneficial emotional impact on employees that can last a whole working day in addition to creating a pleasant environment to take a break and enjoy the visual stimulation, access to vitamin D and peace quiet from the humdrum of an office.

Additionally, these spaces provide an easy talking point that enables colleagues to engage with each other naturally thus improving relationships, whilst also providing handy sustenance and shelter for local wildlife.

The good news is that you don’t have to find the room to recreate the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in order to do this; any amount of space can accommodate an element of nature, from a small collection of pots planted up with flowers, a green ‘living wall’ to a roof garden hosting low-maintenance plants such as lavenders and other scented butterfly attracting plants.

Here at Planteria Group, we specialise in Corporate Floristry to help organisations to provide green spaces for the benefit both of their employees and their customers so to see how we could help you bring nature closer to home – or rather the workplace – get in touch with us.

Sustainability – what is it and why is it important?

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Sustainability is much more than a buzzword. While the use of the word has certainly increased in frequency, the concept itself is hardly new. An ecosystem, a lifestyle, or a community that is sustainable is one which supports itself and its surroundings.
Sustainability itself can be defined by three core elements:
• Environmental Protection
• Social Development
• Economic Development

Environmental Protection

Environmental protection entails examining how our use of the environment affects it, and how we can ensure that negative effects are minimised and behaviours that positively impact the environment are emphasised.

 

Social Development

Ensuring that human beings have access to basic resources, that their health is being protected, and that they enjoy a good quality of life within a sustainable environment is crucial.

 

Economic Development

Sustainability without economic development simply cannot succeed. In order to convince individuals, communities, and organisations to invest their resources in sustainability, there must be incentives above and beyond the long-term advantages.

 

Why is it so Important?

Sustainability is important for a very simple reason: we cannot maintain our quality of life or the Earth’s ecosystems unless we embrace it.

 

Sustainability in the Home

There are many different ways to support sustainability at home.

Recycle

Recycling should be something we’re all doing as a matter of course now. Recycling eases pressure on the world’s resources and the environment.

Growing Food

Giving up a portion of your garden to plant vegetables has become increasingly popular in recent years. Container gardens, which can be moved and easily swapped out, are another great choice.

Conserving Water

Choosing plants native to your area that have evolved to thrive under the naturally present conditions is one choice. You can also consider installing rain barrels, depending on your local regulations, or planting a “rain garden”—planting water-loving foliage in areas where water tends to gather, to allow it to be absorbed into the soil rather than running off into storm drains.

Use of Fertilizers, Pesticides, and Herbicides

The chemicals you use on your lawn matter, and not just to your grass. Using safer, organic alternatives can help you keep your landscaping looking lovely without polluting or endangering the ecosystem. Lawn and garden care chemicals can have lasting effects on plants, animals, and insects in your area, and can also have a negative impact on the water supply.

There are so many ways to embrace sustainability, we hope this blog has given you some ideas to get you started.

The Greening of London (with the help of BID’s)

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A Business Improvement District (BID) is a not-for-profit collective of local businesses who have come together to help improve their immediate area. There are currently 47 BIDs in London, each of whom create, develop and fund projects that benefit local business and the community.

In 2008 ‘The London Plan’ the Mayor’s spatial development plan for London, introduced a new concept, ‘Green Infrastructure’ or GI including; green walls, living walls, roof gardens, rain gardens and ‘parklets’.

Increasing green infrastructure brings with it may benefits; Cooling the built environment and reducing energy consumption, improving air quality, improving health for residents, increasing wellbeing, enhancing biodiversity and creating attractive places where people want to be.

In 2015 Boris Johnson launched a new and more specific initiative called the “Wild West End” designed to link up Regent’s Park and St James’s Park with green ‘stepping stones’ to encourage more birds, bats and insects to the built-up busy streets. This initiative was handed over to the local BIDs. A variety of installations have since been put in place including green roofs, planters, beehives and bird and bat boxes to provide a permanent habitat for London’s wildlife. Adding wildflowers including oxeye daisy, birdsfoot trefoil, and field scabious attract butterflies and bees and create more natural habitats to provide foraging opportunities for robins, goldfinch and other species.

The London Wildlife Trust said it was a “fabulous step” towards attracting nature to the heart of the capital, and demonstrating “how wildlife can flourish amidst the hustle and bustle of the city centre”.

Boris Johnson said the initiative could transform the city for thousands of residents, workers and tourists. “London’s population is at an all-time high, so while we need to build new homes and improve transport infrastructure, we also need better quality green spaces,” he said in a statement. “There is absolutely no doubt that parks and green spaces in urban areas improve people’s wellbeing and quality of life.”

The widespread public benefits of the greening of public infrastructure mean that the delivery of GI has previously been seen as the role of the public sector and the challenge has been to make the case for businesses to invest.

Evaluation of Victoria BIDs Cleaning and Greening programme suggests that businesses increasingly recognise the value of Green Infrastructure in;

Attracting Customers – guiding customers to a retail space and making locations more inviting.

Maximising Spend – increasing the amount of time a customer spends browsing.

Motivating Staff – and retaining them.

Adding Value – working with suppliers and building relationships in the locality, giving back to the wider community.

Looking to the future, the ‘London Green Infrastructure Plan 2050’ projects ahead to our needs for the coming decades, it calculates that the capital will need the equivalent of 13,000 football pitches of new green cover by the middle of this century. These findings prove that green infrastructure projects are much more than nice-to-have and certainly not an afterthought. Green infrastructure is about conservation as much as it is about aesthetics. The future of land and property management will be more proactive and less reactive and better integrated with efforts to manage growth and development.

FM Manager or Eco Warrior? We can help you with a ‘GI’ project; Green roof, green / living wall, eco-friendly planting, roof gardens and more. Contact us today.

Top Ten Scary Plants

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We love plants; they’re calming, they improve your décor, and they reduce C02 levels in the home and office. But there are plenty of plants that you wouldn’t want to find in your office at 9 am on a Monday morning. With Halloween fast upon us, this blog will take a look at nature’s finest arboreal warriors. Perhaps you’ll appreciate your office peace lily a little more after seeing these horrors.

10) Cuscuta – Strangle Tare

Often appearing overgrown and tangled, Strangle Tare isn’t harmful to human beings, but it is certainly scary to read about. Occupying a ghost-like role in plant life, the Strangle Tare will leech the life out of its host plant(s), detaching itself from its own roots in order to survive solely on the hard work of other vegetations. Strangle Tare thrives in hot climates, and there are only four species native to Northern Europe.

9) Utricularia – Bladderwort

Everyone has heard of venus fly traps, but did you know about Bladderwort? Bladderwort flowers, like venus fly traps, feed on whatever prey they can catch in their snapdragon-esque maws. You won’t see bladderwort on land though, Bladderwort lives in fresh water, so next time you go wild swimming, remember the carnivorous Bladderwort!

8) Dering Woods – Screaming Wood

Dering Woods sits next to Pluckley, England’s most haunted village, in Kent. Dering and Pluckley purportedly house between twelve and sixteen ghostly residents between them, alongside the 1,069 living people who reside there. However, the trees themselves don’t seem to have any bearing on how this woods came to be a hotspot for the supernatural; if anything, what’s really scary is how its ghoulish reputation has led to its destruction. Campers looking for a thrill descend on the Screaming Wood with hopes of meeting a famous ghost, leaving a trail of litter in their wake. Pluckley village has spent £6,000 on litter clearing, and a further £41,000 has been sunk into trying to protect Dering Woods from future ghost hunters. So if you go down to the woods today, you’d better go with an eco-friendly attitude, the ghosts and residents will both be grateful!

7) Armillaria Solidipes – Humongous Fungus

The colloquially named Humongous Fungus spreads itself in the American underground of Malheur National Forest. A mushroom that transcends millennia, the Humongous Fungus is considered to be somewhere between 1,900 and 8,650 years old and covers an area of 3.7 square miles. If you ever get to see these Oregon woodlands, try not to think too much about the expanse of mushroom growing secretly beneath you.

6) Actaea Pachypoda – White Baneberry, Doll’s Eyes

These creepy berries are aptly named; looking like eyeballs on flesh-red stems, these berries will watch you unceremoniously as you walk through hardwood forests in the USA or Canada. As if they weren’t already unsettling enough, these plants are highly toxic to human beings, causing cardiac arrest or death upon their ingestion.

5) Hydnellum Peckii – Bleeding Tooth Fungus

Mushrooms are already rather odd-looking plants, known for having multiple poisonous variants, but mushrooms can be somewhat charming in the context of being described as fairy houses. The Hydnellum Peckii, by contrast, isn’t going to be considered a suitable home for any fairy. Like its nickname implies, this fungi produces a gross, jammy substance from its pores.

4) Nicotiana Tabacum – Tobacco

All parts of the Tobacco plant are incredibly poisonous, especially its leaves. Even though it’s so poisonous, tobacco continues to be used worldwide, and is estimated to cause more than five million deaths per year. Tobacco might not be visually scary, but it is deadly.

3) Amorphophallus Titanum – Corpse Flower

The Corpse Flower is infamous. It is known for having the largest flower on Earth, but also for emitting the most foul aroma of rotting flesh! The Corpse Flower can reach a whopping three metres in height. The Corpse Flower’s odd aroma is an evolutionary effect which grew to attract carnivorous insects in order to achieve pollination. Even weirder, the Corpse Flower can warm itself up to further resemble dead flesh when attracting flies and dung beetles.

2) Mammillaria Elongata Cristata – Brain Cactus

Just as the name implies, the brain cactus looks freakishly similar to a human organ – the brain. Brain cacti aren’t actually dangerous to humans (aside from the prickly spikes) so you could keep them as indoor office plants if you wanted, but you should first consider the history of how the Brain Cacti develop.

Brain cacti are a type of ‘Cristata’ cacti that form into these brain-esque shapes if they are injured at a young age. Unable to grow past the painful experiences of their youth, the brain cacti grow into a twisted and convoluted shape.

1) Algae Bloom – Red Tide

‘Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight. Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning.’ This old saying, was a way for shepherds to predict the next day’s weather. The Red Tide, however, is always an omen of ill portent, irrelevant of what time of day it strikes. Red Tide is toxic algae rising up from the sea floor, which can occur after a particularly bad storm. The Red Tide isn’t especially pleasing to look at, being somewhat reminiscent of the shower scene in Psycho, but what’s more horrifying is the destruction that reveals itself two weeks following: fish and marine life will begin to wash up dead on shores and beaches, having been killed by the toxic algae in their water.

These are the top ten scariest plants in the world. Insect-pollinated plants are good greenery for hay fever and asthma sufferers, but your employees would probably not be too happy if they had to share their workspace with the magnificent Corpse Flower. When looking to choose the perfect indoor office plants, consider getting in contact with Planteria instead.

If you’re looking for more material on scary plants, why not to turn to literature and film?

1) 1907, The Willows, by Algernon Blackwood

2) 1962, The Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson

3) 2000, House of Leaves, by M. Z. Danielewski

4) 2008, The Happening, by M. Night Shyamalan

5) 2011, A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness

6) 2015 (Uk), The Vegetarian, By Han Kang (translated by Deborah Smith)

7) 2016, The Forest, by Jason Zada

 

Beekeeping: Our Story and Advice

Our head office team are all buzzing about our honeybees, and you might be too if you knew how important they were and how easy it is to keep them. In this article, we share our experience of beekeeping and offer you some advice to help you get started.

Beekeeping at Planteria

We take the environment and the stewardship of it very seriously. It’s our job to work with nature and improve workplaces across the UK, and this encourages us to understand the importance of natural habitats and how to protect them. Caroline works in our New Business team and she recently became our resident Beekeeper. Read Caroline’s blog below which includes tips and facts to inspire you.

Beekeeping at Planteria – by Caroline

It seems a little ironic to decide to become a beekeeper with a postage stamp for a garden. But, with my first nucleus hive just set up and prepped for winter, here’s how I started my beekeeping adventure.
I have always had a fascination with bees; they are remarkable insects! Every colony is a highly complex community made up of around 50,000 bees, each with a specific role to ensure the survival of the colony as a whole. Bees play an essential role in all ecosystems, pollinating most flowering plants, in turn serving all other animals, with around a third of human food-producing crops reliant on them.

The honey they produce boosts our immune system, provides protection from pollen allergies and has wound-healing benefits through its antibacterial properties. It is also a delicious and natural source of sugar which our bodies find easier to process. The bees produce honey to feed on and, more specifically, to store to ensure their survival through winter. Given enough nectar to forage, and somewhere to store it, they will keep producing it to excess all through the summer, which we can then extract.

There are approximately 44,000 amateur beekeepers registered across the UK, managing over a quarter million hives. Over the last few decades, most of the honeybees’ natural habitats have been destroyed, along with their food supply, so these managed hives make up most of the UK honeybee population today.

 

I had the opportunity to take part in a beginners’ beekeeping course run by my local beekeeping association. This involved six fascinating evening classes and a little hands-on experience with the bees and their honey. I really just wanted to learn more about bees and maybe lend a hand at the local apiaries. It created a lot of interest at work and I suggested we could have our own hive at Planteria.

We have a clear view of environmental issues and are proudly a zero-to-landfill site, alongside other positive changes like using hybrid vehicles to further limit our environmental impact. It wasn’t a stretch to think Planteria would be open to the idea of a little backyard beekeeping, and I have such amazing employers who not only thought it was a great idea – but they also covered the cost of bees, the hive and equipment too.

We are so lucky to have a rural office space with over an acre and a half of meadow. With it already home to our sheep and lots of chickens, the bees are barely noticeable and have lush hawthorn hedgerow and dandelions to forage from. Our year-round supply of office flowers, awaiting delivery to our customers, also provides a unique and diverse menu for our bees.

With any little luck, and despite my novice beekeeping skills, our bees will be producing honey from spring next year. In fact, if all goes to plan, I should be harvesting upward of 10kg honey from our single hive.

Starting Your Own Beehive and Supporting the Bees

We highly recommend meeting with your local beekeeping association who are experts at beekeeping and can support you with both knowledge and resources. They can give you lots of advice on the local species, how to build your own beehive and the cost of beekeeping.

Spring is the best time of the year to start beekeeping if you are starting from scratch, so prepare ahead. It is best to introduce bees to a new hive during spring, so they have the whole summer to forage and settle with a good stock of honey for winter. Plan to have all your equipment ordered during late autumn and installed before the end of winter so that you can order bees, get some training, and be fully prepared for their arrival.

There is a lot to think about when installing bees on your property; you’ll need to think about appropriate areas of shade, raising the hive to a good height so you can access it easily, and buying protective clothing to tend to your bees without getting stung. You may also want to get tested for allergies by your doctor before you go all-in on your beekeeping. There’s a lot to consider, so speak to your local beekeepers and refer to our blog for more stories about our real experiences with honeybees.