Is your garden bee-ready this spring? That’s the question I asked myself, and the answer was a resounding no – so I jumped in my car and had a buzz around Kiln Farm Nursery in suffolk.
After last winter’s cold snap, my ‘bee boulevard’ seemed a bit bare, but I managed to get some great early season nectar sources for bees, and later for butterflies and pollinating insects.
Remember that bees don’t tend to see or perceive colours in the same way that humans do, and they tend to buzz around certain flower colours. Flowers in blue and yellow attract bees because those are colours they can perceive the easiest. Open-faced flowers, where nectar and pollen is rich for the taking, are also the most popular!
Erysimum Red Jep
These perennial wallflowers are an excellent garden choice, as they flower intermittently for most of the year! This means an almost non-stop nectar buffet for bees and their friends, which include butterflies and moths!
You can often hear bees buzzing around these low-growing lovelies. Heather are incredibly versatile, and not all types need an acidic soil. The flowers are just the right tones for bees, and they love that the flowers provide them with two key things – nectar and pollen. Bees need nectar to sustain themselves, and the energy then makes sure they complete pollination.
Bees also rely on pollen to feed their larvae, and at the same time they pollinate plants around them. Heather is great as an early source of both pollen and nectar!
Muscari (Grape Hyacinth)
Bumblebees in particular love the dainty little florets that cover each stem of Muscari. This is a really undemanding spring bulb which multiplies really easily in the border, or rockeries.
The Grape Hyacinth also looks super nice in little cute pots on an outdoor table, where you can sit and watch the bees going about their daily work. This is a really worthwhile, meditative thing to do! Enjoy 🙂
Nepeta (Cat Mint)
We know that bees love plants like lavender, but how about switching things up with some Nepeta, a plant which is a little bit easier to maintain than that old favourite, lavender! It will also grow in slightly more moist soils too, and dappled shade.
The blue-mauve flowers are just the right tone for bees to swarm, and as a perennial border plant it performs excellently. Don’t be afraid to plant it right at the edge of your path, and let it cascade over. Oh, and cats love it too!
One of the most durable, and best value, shrubs you can choose for your garden. Don’t be fooled by the leafy appearance when first planted, Hebe have amazing flower power and can provide a months-long buffet for our buzzing friends.
Hebe are great for bees, butterflies and many beneficial insects, and at night you may even witness a few moths coming for them too. However, it’s not just about nectar, Hebe plants also offer excellent habitats for many insects and spiders, who happily set up home there!
As you might know, my favourite after-gardening tipple is the Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc; it’s crisp and refreshing, and what I’ve come to expect from this New Zealand brand, with its sustainable approach. Did you know Stoneleigh have hives on their vineyards, and their land includes 30 hectares of regenerative, plus they’ve planted 10,000 plants in biodiversity projects to date?! #Ad
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook – and writes a plant-focused Substack called Grow This, Not That.