We appreciate you are taking the time to read this and truly grateful for that, as the whole bee decline situation is something that sits close to our heart. Through our years of gardening in all sorts of gardens, we realise strongly that our gardening practices can either be detrimental to bee habitats or it can promote the attraction of bees in the way of plant selection. Taking time to make good horticultural decisions on timings of certain chores, play an integral role in ensuring we don't do any harm to their habitats. The planting for bees just sends the message that they are welcome in your garden.
Over the past few years, we have progressively changed our gardening practices to reflect the respect these insects so well deserve, as through their pollination processes, certain foods are readily available for us to consume.
We have taken the approach to educate our clients on how they are able to support a growth in bee numbers by simply introducing a host of bee-attracting plants into their garden planting scheme as new additions are required. Some clients were so keen to help that they have even agreed to remove some existing plants and replace them with what we advise as being the best to suit both their design and the attraction for bees.
You may be asking what we recommend, so here is our top 10 favourites which have been selected in making a big difference at attracting bees to your garden and providing them with a relatively high nectar and pollen source to carry out their work.
1. Teucrium fruiticans - An evergreen shrub, also known as Germander, with grey-green aromatic foliage and produces masses of pale blue flowers in Summer. This plant fits well into a Mediterranean planting scheme. The plant can either be left to grow slightly wilder and develop arching white shoots or you can keep the shape in a neat form but trimming regularly. If you prefer the neater appeal, then just make sure you stop trimming in late Spring to allow for flowering in Summer.
2. Chives - A very well-known herb that provides us with foliage we can add to food as well as the flowers which rate as being one of the best attractions for bees. In order to produce the flowers we suggest growing it and once it produces a good clump of foliage, cut it back and make use of the foliage for culinary uses. Allow it to grow back again...and then this time you wait for it to flower and cut out bits of the foliage to use, if you feel the need to. The bigger the clump, the more flowers you have. Other herbs worthy of a mention, would be Rosemary, Sage and Marjoram as well.
3. Echinacea pallida - A perennial plant that produces a clump of cone shaped flowers with drooping petals in the Summer. Not only this species, but almost any Echinacea is a good addition when it come to attracting bees. You are spoilt for choice in terms of colours as well. Its a real joy to see how many bees will visit just one plant and so by planting them in groups of three, you get maximum impact.
4. Echinops ritro - A perennial plant, also known as globe thistle, with prickly dark green leaves and produces violet-blue globe flower heads on silvery stems in late Summer. The flowers are nectar and pollen rich, making it a bit of a bee magnet. A nice sized clump of this plant is so eye-catching and is a great architectural choice for the back of a sunny border. When cut back after flowering, it could produce a second batch of flowers if Winter does not come too early.
5. Eryngium zabelii ‘Big blue’ - A perennial plant, also known as Sea Holly, with blue tinged spiny leaves and produces cone-like deep blue flower heads in Summer and Autumn. In recent years, this has become a very popular plant that designers have used in Chelsea Flower Show exhibits in less formal planting schemes, combining it with many other complimentary perennials to offer maximum bee attracting potential.
6. Caryopteris x clandonensis - A non-evergreen shrub with grey-green aromatic leaves that produces blue flowers in the late Summer and Early Autumn. With each new season, a relatively hard prune encourages a larger show of flowers that will be almost impossible for the bees to resist.
7. Lavender ‘Hidcote’ - The most popular of all Lavenders, producing masses of deep blue flowers on short stems in Summer. Its compact form has made it a very popular choice in Mediterranean planting schemes and also in container planting due to its tolerance of drier conditions. Combined with scented pink roses such as Gertrude Jekyll, not only does it look fantastic, but it also provides a paradise for bees to indulge in.
8. Helenium ‘Moerheim beauty’ - A perennial long-flowering plant with simple green leaves and masses of coppery red daisy-like flower heads in Summer. The head of the these flowers are a worthy nectar source and it would be unusual to see a Helenium without bees buzzing around. They are a firm favourite with bees and combine well with many other perennials in an informal planting scheme making them a worthy addition in many designs.
9. Sedum ‘Brilliant’ - A perennial plant, also known as stonecrop, with succulent green leaves and produces masses of pink flowers on fleshy stems in late Summer and Autumn. This plant is a great choice for two reasons - it is very tolerant to drier conditions and is a late season flowering plant providing a nectar source up to the Winter period. Often people leave the flower heads on to brown off, providing structure in the Winter as well as looking great with a dusting of frost on top.
10. Abelia grandiflora - A evergreen shrub, known as glossy abelia, with green oval leaves on woody stems and produces white slightly fragrant tubular flowers in Summer and Autumn. If you are looking for a low maintenance option providing a high source of nectar, look no further than Abelia.
If you are interested in learning more about these beautiful insects, have a read here.
If you’re feeling generous and would like to make a donation to conserving the bumblebee, then this is where you can make it possible.
Thank you for reading and I hope that as we broaden our knowledge and awareness of the role that the bees play in our everyday life, we may begin ‘paying it back’ with a small change in our approach to gardening for wildlife.