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…
On Monday night I gave a talk to the Hardy Plant Society Middlesex. Below are a few links for further information based on some of the ideas discussed in the talk: Real Seeds – a fantastic supplier of fruit and vegetable seeds for growers. Boxwood Caterpillar Advice – from the European Boxwood & Topiary Society. I will also write a little companion piece this winter with more information and some topiary techniques, so watch out for that on this website. Boxwood Lure & Nematodes – my preferred option for dealing with the caterpillar. Discount code for 10% off is EBTSBOX29GBZ …
Some recent work over the last year or so, clipping boxwood and holly hedges, yew topiary on top and fun, organic shapes. Contact me if you need some topiary clipping and we can chat about the possibilities. Darren