Pub shrub: landlords asked to plant up their patios to help wildlife

<span>Co-operative committee members from the prize-winning Star Inn (L-R), Jane Dudley, Mick Smith and Lorraine Gainsborough, with the gardener Emma Tipping.</span><span>Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/RHS</span>
Co-operative committee members from the prize-winning Star Inn (L-R), Jane Dudley, Mick Smith and Lorraine Gainsborough, with the gardener Emma Tipping.Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/RHS

Pub gardens often feature barren patios, characterless lawns and – worst of all – fake grass.

Now, the Royal Horticultural Society is asking landlords across the country to plant up their patios, saying they are full of untapped potential for urban green space and wildlife.

The charity, which also hosts the Chelsea flower show, this week announced the winner of its pub garden competition at its urban plant show in Manchester. The community-owned Star Inn in Salford will be the recipient of a “pub garden for bees” designed by Emma Tipping.

Tipping has chosen easy-to-maintain plants, with some evergreen ferns and shrubs as well as bright flowers such as geraniums for the pollinators, to make it attractive year-round.

The gardener said she focused on bee-friendly plants because “Manchester is famous for its bees” and they were an accessible way for people to help pollinators.

The design includes a “bee pub garden” with rocky areas for bees to rest on, nectar-rich plants and small watering holes.

Tipping said more pubs should green up their gardens because “it’s so rare to have a green space like this in an urban area that is being used, enjoyed and loved already, that has so much potential and can be relatively easily planted”.

She said she hoped other pubs would be inspired: “They can use this garden as a blueprint – it’s so hard to know where to start sometimes with planting, for those who haven’t done it before.”

Mick Smith, the licence holder for the pub, said the planting would be an asset to customers, many of whom do not have gardens of their own.

“If you come to our pub,” he said, “you’ll see that it’s a sun spot and in summertime, hardly anyone actually sits in the pub itself, they’re all sitting on the patio area, and it’s become like the lounge room and it really does deserve to have some decent plants. And for the good of the community at large, and for the bees.”

He said they hoped to tempt birds, insects and other nature from the nearby Cliff conservation area with their planting.

Tipping said one of the reasons the Star won was because it had a scheme whereby volunteers tided the patio, and one of the aims of the competition was to get people involved in gardening.

“There might be people in the local area that would love to do gardening but not have the space to do it if it’s an urban area,” she said. “So it gives something back to people who could look after it … they could come and do the gardening and have a little bit of space outside where they can be a bit creative.”

Perfect pub plants: a selection from Emma Tipping’s plant list

  • Herbs including lemon balm, fennel, oregano and chives.

  • Ferns including Asplenium scolopendrium, Polystichum aculeatum and Polypodium vulgare.

  • Shrubs including Fatsia polycarpa “Green fingers”, Mahonia “Soft caress”, Pieris “Flaming silver”.

  • Perennials including Euphorbia x martini, Geranium macrorrhizum “Spessart”, Heuchera “Black beauty”.