Planting for pollinators

If you are visiting the garden centre this weekend, looking for flowers and shrubs to brighten your garden next year, consider planting for our pollinators and especially our dwindling bee populations.

If you are looking for trees for spring blossom try flowering willows and any kind of apple; these are excellent early nectar and pollen sources for queen bumble bees working to establish new nests.

Goat willow and crab apple blossom

For summer flower and scent there are all kinds of lavender and hawthorn. Plant lavender in the sun, in dry soil; trim it after the first flowering (collect the seed heads to make lavender bags) and it will flower a second time.

lavender and hawthorn

Autumn: abelia, commonly called Bee Bush, and honeysuckle both flower through the late summer and right into the autumn. Autumn nectar and pollen are very important for the winged invertebrates that are building up their resources for hibernation.

abelia and honeysuckle

Winter. Mahonia and ivy are both winter flowerers; they are heavily scented and when there is sunshine to spread the perfume, there can be so many insects come to feed that the whole plant seems to buzz.

mahonia and ivy

Avoid double flowers; they do not produce nearly as much nectar as single flowers and in some species the double flowers produce no nectar at all. Choose carefully and your garden will be a haven for pollinators and nectar feeders all next year.

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