THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Mar06

Harlow Beekeepers

Last Thursday night I was invited to give a talk ‘Planting for Pollinators’ at Harlow Bees, a beekeeping group who help promote the craft of keeping bees in Harlow.

It was an interesting evening exploring how two complementary crafts – beekeeping and gardening – co-exist in there similar aims of helping bees (and other pollinators.)

Below are some notes answering questions the group asked me from the talk:

1. The Best Plants For Bees

  • helenium
  • sedum
  • oregano
  • borage
  • veronicastrum
  • teucrium
  • calamint
  • eupatorium
  • centaurea
  • lavender

This research comes from the work done by Rosi Rollings at Rosybee. She has been asking the question ‘which bee-friendly plants attract the most bees?’

You can read why and how she set-up this work in this interview we made with her a few years ago.

2. This is what Helenium, the most valuable plant for bees, looks like…

helenium best plant for bees

It is easy to grow, makes a great cut flower and is beautiful too. Get it into your gardens!

3. Remember the following when choosing flowers for the garden…

Right plant, right place – a happy, healthy plant growing in conditions it enjoys will provide preferred forage for the bees.

Plant in blocks of flowers, so that bees don’t waste energy trying to find another nectar/pollen source.

Get some blossoming trees into your gardener early in the year.

Topiary is easier to look after – a plant like Escallonia is great for clipping but also a bee magnet, so can be left uncut (and so full of flowers) until it grows too large for your garden… then you can easily reduce it down to size and let it start growing again, year on year.

escallonia for bees
Escallonia, a bee magnet

4. Using Pesticides, Herbicides or Insecticides will harm your bees

If your garden flowers are suffering from pest damage, plant trees. These will provide somewhere for birds to visit, who in turn will deal with the bug problem.

No flower is too important or special it needs to be sprayed with a poison to make it look better. Plus, the best flowers for bees normally don’t show the art of the plant breeder – note the Helenium above!

5. Plant organic bulbs

You can read all about that in this blog Organic Bulbs.

Or via John Walker, the Earth Friendly Gardener, in the Telegraph.

We will make an order for Bee Friendly Bulbs in the summer, so will let you know then if you want to buy some!


If you live in and around Harlow and want to know more about bees and beekeeping – why not get in touch with the group?

Jun10

Brought By Bike – Topiary Making

Brought By Bike is an excellent website I found last month, where businesses offer their services by (of course) bicycle. Modern Mint and my topiary work is now live on the site offering my topiary services, via bike, to the following two postcodes – CM1 CM2 Now I can imagine I will need to borrow a ladder should anyone have a larger shrub, but most town gardens in the Chelmsford area have a need not just for privacy but to let light into the house… so a balance must be struck when shaping hedges and shrubs to cover both needs. …

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May10

Transforming Topiary

topiary transforming

Transforming Topiary – a video made for the European Boxwood And Topiary Society by Charlotte Molesworth and I, in her garden. We take a dog topiary and work out how to update it, turning it into a bird. Worth a watch I think, and hopefully useful to you! You can see more of my clipping on the topiary page. Or read my Spring 2021 Topiary Provocation here.

Apr28

Phillyrea From 1682

Worlidge Phillyrea

Phillyrea is one of my favourite plants for topiary. I have been using it for quite a few years as a specimen shrub, mostly due to the fact it clips well and has a tough habit – all good characteristics for a topiary plant. It also has a  reputation for being an excellent nectar source for bees… Read more about Phillyrea here. Mentioning this to Malcolm Thicke, a market garden historian and writer, he sent me a some photos of topiary and phillyrea mentioned by John Worlidge in Systema Horticulturae from 1682…. incredible! He also mentioned to me that in …

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