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?

Jan19

Books For Keen Gardeners

Here is an updated list of books for keen gardeners. I have enjoyed these books immensely, they range from designers and how they work to helping wildlife to thrive. And by buying from here you are helping local or independent bookshops to survive too. Here is the list – go take a look and nab something to read now!

Jan12

Books – Gardening & Others I Recommend

I compiled a list of books using Bookshop, a new online shop to rival Amazon. I like it because it is supporting independent bookshops, helping them out by giving them an audience whilst their own physical premises are closed. The books I’ve listed are not all about gardening, but worth a look through and an order anyway as they are wonderful and have seen me through lockdown – and I hope they bring you some joy too!  Check out the books I recommend here.

Dec13

Hedge Laying

Hedge laying is something I’ve been meaning to try for a long time, a type of pruning that can bring huge benefits to wildlife as well as looking amazing. So last year I went down to Dorset/the edge of Devon, to spend a day learning to lay a hedge. Hedge laying is a way of building a stock proof fence. It does take time, and some practical and physical skill, but once you get the hang of it I would think developing your instinct about what to prune and where to lay the branches is where the true proficiency arises… …

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