THE MODERN MINT BLOG
When choosing bee friendly plants the key ideas to look out for are:
1) Grow plants that are nectar rich and full of pollen. (So stay clear of overbred double flowers…)
2) Provide a number of flower shapes – flat disks and tubular flowers are great.
3) Plant in blocks – bees, being oh so efficient, want to fly to one spot and pick up as much nectar as possible. Don’t ask them to work hard, group your flowers together.
We interviewed nursery woman Rosybee about the top 5 plants for bees. She said,
“… borage, phacelia and echium are all fab and I would probably put in my top 10 – which I will not finalise until I have more empirical evidence. Interestingly those 3 are all from the same plant family and all have the trick of renewing their nectar throughout the day where most plants are dry by lunch-time.”
Think big as well when choosing bee friendly plants – trees are a fantastic way to provide nectar and pollen in abundance! Lime, sweet chestnut and sycamore should be on your list if you have the room (we know that putting in a sycamore will leave you with lots of little seedlings around the garden, but they die out when they don’t get enough moisture… so those of you who live near Modern Mint in Essex shouldn’t have a problem!)
Last of all, try and provide enough shelter so bees can travel (no wind tunnels), steer clear of pesticides (there are alternative ways of thinking) and plant so that something is flowering all year round – Mahonia early in the year will be a fine food source, as will Ivy later in the year.
Plants for Bees:
(A lot of these are in Dan Pearson’s ‘Must-Have Plants’…)
Do check out these books on beekeeping too – you may find with a bit more information you are a natural…
Making a new topiary out of the large, dull facade of a Taxus blob… My work was to change it up from a ‘jelly drop’ shape and give it texture, open it out and let the light through, and make it a sculptural feature in the background of the garden in summer… yet a major part of the garden in winter. A few more years before it becomes something special, but there was far more leaf and growth inside the plant than I thought and so it will not take too long for it to gain in character and become …
Two weeks ago I was invited to teach topiary at the garden of Griselda Kerr, the author of The Apprehensive Gardener. I love teaching and sharing skills, but I was placed on the spot in the afternoon and asked to show how I would make a new topiary from an existing shrub. So below is a speeded-up video of me creating a cloud-pruned topiary from an old boxwood tree. I particularly love the ending when the class get involved….! See the video here. One hour was all it took, and though it needed a little tidying-up, it was made by …
Charlotte Molesworth, my topiary mentor, and I are running our popular topiary workshop again in 2022. You can email me for details – or go here for information, your ticket and to find out about dates. Book A Spot On A Topiary Workshop, September 2022