Something a little different to my weather posts but equally, if not even more so, close to my heart, is ‘Wildlife gardening’. I hope to give those that are considering planting for wildlife, especially bees, a few ideas and inspiration if you don’t know where to start!
I am very much an ‘amateur’ gardener, but i have strong enthusiasm for planting with wildlife in mind in the small space I have, so i will go through a selection of plants with high value to bees in particular, with varying sizes of plant for any space!
Low growers:Less than 50cm
There are a few good plants that stay close to the ground
- Lamium Maculatum: Excellent ground cover with flowers late spring through into summer
- Birds foot trefoil: yellow flowers late spring into summer, food plant of Orange tip butterfly
- White deadnettle, flowers early spring right till winter, sometimes almost all year round! Invaluable for bumblebees
- Chives: Bees love it and flowers right through summer, and of course can be used in meals
- Bugle: Flowers in Spring, very low growing and good ground cover
- Cowslip: Another spring flower provides valuable fuel for bees
- Columbine: Spring flower
- Geranium Rozanne: Highly recommended!! Very long flowering right through summer, many geraniums have value for bees, won RHS plant of the centenary in 2013. I have ‘Ann folkard’ ‘Patricia’ Mavis Simpson’ and striped bloody cransebill, all easy to grow
- Lavender: I have English Lavender ‘Hidcote’ and the bees adore it, lavender Edelweiss is apparently very good too
- Red and white clover: Invaluable for many bees flowering late spring through till Autumn
- Lamb’s ears: Flowers through summer with soft foliage
- Marjoram: July to sept with flowers a magnet for bees!
- Calamint, one of the best from my research, July-Sept
- Hyssop: Lovely herb
- Eryngium planum: A tall plant but I have planted the dwarf form of this, again, highly recommended with unusual flowers
- Scabious: Very pretty plants, small scabious is great for pots with high value to butterflies
So much choice for plants for bees and butterflies and insects, these are a few of my favourites
- Greater knapweed: as seen in the header photograph, a magnet for bees and butterflies, a really great plant in any border
- Hemp agrimony: One of the best for butterflies and bees too, about 5/6ft with large flat pink flowerheads July on
- Vipers bugloss: Biannual with blue flowers June on, highly attractive to bees
- Borage:Annual plant that is easy to grow, mine in an old BBQ, bees adore it and flowers late spring/early summer on
- Foxglove:Great for bumblebees through the summer
- Helenium Sahins early flowerer and ‘Autumnale’: In RosyBee’s study they finished right near the top for bee activity
- Verbena bonariensis: More for butterflies but bees like it too, tall and wiry
- Veronica spicata and Veronicastrum: Havent grown these myself, but they would create an impact, maybe for next year!
Here are my leaf cutters that went in my old bee box last year
If you can, buy a solitary bee house or make one out of hollow canes, you can buy tubes that are the perfect length and widths for solitary bees here, anywhere from 2mm across for the tiny ones, up to 10mm with 7-10mm being the best for most I believe: https://amzn.to/2ZoqtdA https://bit.ly/2WGo2Xd
Let’s all plant for the bees and wildlife, it doesn’t matter how small the space is, you can make a difference, either in pots or the ground, every plant you set for them DOES make a difference, there are native and non native plants for every site and situation! And do not be put off by the term ‘Wildflower’, I think many get the impression that they are big, scary, spiky and awful plants that will take away your children and ruin your house, it is not the case! Many requite little attention and withstand considerable neglect! How ‘Low maintenance’ is that?! So give it a try, even in any little container you have spare, you may be pleasantly surprised!
Link to RosyBee’s research: http://www.rosybee.com/research
Many thanks for reading, any questions please fire away.