The gentle buzz of the bee in the garden is a quintessential spring and summer sound. By pollinating plants and fruit they also provide gardeners an invaluable service while they flit between flowers. However, the number of bees in the UK has seen a dramatic decline in recent times, a fact which should concern us all.
When landscaping your garden or when planning this year’s planting scheme, there are a number of ways to help attract these vital pollinators.
Planting Native Species
First and foremost, you will want to grow a variety of plants which can provide nectar and pollen from early spring through to late summer. There are over 250 species of bee in the UK, including 24 species of bumblebee. They can feed in different ways and a good variety of plants, shrubs and flowers can help attract more species to the garden. It may be best to avoid plants with multi-petalled flowers, as pollinators such as honey bees with short tongues find them difficult to access.
Look to incorporate native plants and wildflowers in to your landscaping as they will have evolved alongside our native pollinators. Wildflowers bring dashes of colour and can make gardening a little easier since they are sturdy and need little maintenance.
If you are looking to plant trees, then apple and wild cherry are good options as they flower in winter and early spring, extending the flowering season within your garden.
Many retailers will sell mixed wildflower seeds designed to attract bees to the garden, though you should try and ensure they are native wildflower species.
Foxglove and teasel are two options which will attract pollinators, with teasel offering the additional bonus that birds like goldfinches will be attracted to them when they start to seed. A climber like Evergreen Clematis is also a good choice and will provide lovely colours to enjoy while you are gardening.
There are many varieties of herbs which are bee-friendly as well as being wonderful aromatic and great additions to your cooking. These include rosemary, chives, basil and lemon thyme, while a lavender plant will always look like a bee playground. If you are growing your own vegetables courgette plants are not just fairly simple to grow, their large yellow flower will be a magnet to a passing bee.
As well as plants there are other ways to help the bee population and ensure you continue to hear their familiar buzz when gardening. While the more adventurous may keep a hive for honey bees, most gardens can put up a simple south-facing bee house to help with their habitat, whether a commercially bought option or one which is home-made.
Look to allow at least a small patch of your lawn to be a little wilder without being mowed, letting weeds like dandelions grow. Dandelions are important providers of early season pollen, while clover is attractive to honey bees.
With just a few adjustments in your landscaping plans you can help our embattled bees.
Professional advice from a garden designer can be beneficial in preventing planting errors and ensuring a design which is easy to maintain.
Our landscape team at Glorious Gardens is happy to discuss these ideas in planning your garden. If you’re considering a “re-do” of your outdoor space, we invite you to call us. We will brainstorm to find the right blend of elements to suit your tastes, your budget and your space.