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Bee Friendly Garden 2015 - Ready, Set, Go!

Hi All,

I've been researching species to grow for this year, partly from lessons learnt in previous years and from reading forums such as this. I've not got much space so all varieties are compact uprights where possible.

I've tried to select varieties that are interesting to look at (e.g. Eryngiums) and intend to grow from seed in propagators on the windowsill from the end of January.

Any comments on these would be appreciated, perhaps if there's any tricks or things that are worth knowing that would help me/others, or glaring ommissions. image

Anyhow here's the list with a few of my comments:

Allium (Sphaerocephal) ; Grew Sphearocephal last year against a fence (i.e. full shade) and they did OK. Bees loved them. Got 500 bulbs from B&M bargains.

Armeria Maritima ; Early nectar, compact
Bugle ; ??? Low growing
Delphinium ; Grew last year, but it was big, perhaps there's a dwarf variety bees like? Part of my "Cottage Garden" area
Digitalis (Foxglove) ; Struggled to grow from seed in propogators last year, perhaps I'll try direct sowing? Part of my "Cottage Garden" area
Echinops (Globe Thistle) ; Love the look of these, hoping last years come back with more vigour (no flowers last year from seed).
(Lupin) ; Part of my "Cottage Garden" area
Phacelia tanacetifolia (Purple Tansy) ; Spoken highly of?
Stonecrop/Ice Plant (Sedum telephium) ; Was given one of these, going to see how it does.
Scabious (Succisa pratensis) ; Got from last year, just hope they survive the wet winter with their low leaves
Sea Holly (Eryngium giganteum)
Snapdragon (Antirrhinum Majus) Part of my "Cottage Garden" area
(Sunflower) ; Multi-headed ones (~10cm flowers) always look good.
Verbena Bonariensis
Viper's Bugloss (Echium vulgare) ; Supposed to be difficult to find seeds?

So that's my plan and will keep me busy for the next few months, be glad to hear any comments on the above or what other people are doing. image



  • All lovely plants and mostly easy to grow. Phacelia is terrific for bees and don't forget borage - masses of it if you have the space. The bonus is all the other flying insects which you get - bumbles galore, hoverflies and moths. I bought a lot of echium vulgare seeds from a potato day last January. Very few germinated but several popped up in places where they weren't sown! seed.  Good luck!

  • Just remembered - echinacea is a good one too.

  • Thanks all so far!

    @Outdoor Girl: I did grow borage last year, and could often be found stealing one of the flowers to munch on as I walked past. image However I found them a bit too overpowering for the limited space I have, they sprawled everywhere, some of the stalks were about 2" thick! :O (grown from seed that year, good going) I plan to replace them with Vipers Bugloss which is more upright. Found Echinacea difficult to grow from seed, that said one did come up and produce 1 beautiful purple flower so hoping it comes back this year.

    @Edd: Indeed I have! image last year I 'acquired' image a few lengths of mahogany framing from a building that was being demolished (wouldn't get that nowadays) I drilled over 100 8mm and 4mm holes in it, put a roof and sides on it and hung it on my East facing wall. The occupancy rate has been a stable

  • Most of the herbs - thyme particularly as I know to my cost having planted it around the base of my rotary clothes line - perhaps bees at ground level where I'm going to walk without looking were not my brightest idea.  Dahlias grown from seed - easy and great bee atractors.

  • ElusiveElusive Posts: 992

    I always grow Zinnias and Dahlias, they are bee magnets and stay a good size =)

  • SalinoSalino Posts: 1,609

    ..I cannot imagine a bee garden without a large Lavender x intermedia variety... they do grow big, but personally I'd rather have just one of these, than perhaps half a dozen of those you've got listed there... bees swarm all over them.... 'Grosso' and 'Grappenhall'' to name but two...

  • Teasel is brilliant for both birds and bees. I grow Comfrey at the allotment and it's always full of bees. Single Dahlia are loved by bees as are Cosmos. Hope this helps, I do my best to have a variety of plants every year for all the pollinators and leave the Buddlea uncut over winter as the birds perch on it daily while waiting their turn at the sunflower heart feeder.

  • LeadFarmerLeadFarmer Posts: 1,256

    The GW website states...

    Bees can see the purple more clearly than any other colour, so grow lots of purple plants, such as lavenderalliumsbuddleja and catmint.

  • and don't forget marjoram

  • Jesse2501Jesse2501 Posts: 150

    Do people usually buy marjoram as plugs or use seeds? I intend to plant loads of it, alternating with Lavender. Last year the bees were never off the marjoram, seemed to last all summer long. 

    Are there any problems with catmint?

    what about nasturtiums at the base of a shrub in a pot?  I planted some last summer and the bees loved them. Easy to grow and very cheap. Good variety of colours available too. Not sure if there are blue/purple ones though. 

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