I've just some in from the garden. It's early evening and the sun is still shining. The bees, butterflies and other pollinators are still out there going about their business. In my Dahlia trug alone, I've sat and counted fifteen different bees foraging for food. I feel happy and contented. My garden has become what I set out to do - a pollinator haven.
I have a variety of plants in the garden to attract wildlife. The intention is that there should be something for the pollinators to feed from right through from early Spring until they hibernate. Then they can visit my bee and bug hotels, and bunk down for the winter.
As before, this is not an exhaustive post on the best plants for pollinators. Anyone can look them up for themselves. And it's definitely not an instruction manual - I'm no expert. In fact I class myself as an enthusiastic beginner. Gardening and selecting the plants that will grow in your garden is a personal thing, and I'm already compiling my own lust list for next year. I have been busy sketching out plans for changes in the garden too. A new border. Some more trugs. It's all in my head at the moment, and hopefully it will become a reality during the Autumn months when I tidy up and plant out more Spring bulbs.
I'd like to share some of the plants that are flowering in the garden now. They have become favourites of mine. They are easy to grow, have longevity and their colours and shapes are my kind of beautiful.
The ubiquitous Cosmos. A beautifully simple and elegant flower, which sits a-top a tall stem with feathery leaves. There are so many varieties of this flower - tall, dwarf, white through to a chocolate (one of my lusts) colour. Early flowering, double rosette. The list goes on. They are ridiculously easy to grow from seed, but can also be bought as plugs in late Spring. I do both. Harvesting seed from the spent flowers was a highlight of last years gardening, and actually the seed heads themselves are quite beautiful too.
Cosmos add height and structure to a border, and look just as effective when grown in pots. They last all through the summer if they are dead headed regularly. They make lovely cut flowers for the house, and these also last. They are an annual plant, and the bees and butterflies love them. They basically tick all my boxes, and I don't think there is anything nicer than seeing a swaying mass of these in the garden. A happy flower!
Dahlias come in all shapes and sizes. There are literally hundreds to choose from, in every colour you can imagine. The best ones for pollinators are the daisy shaped ones, They are a perennial plant, coming up year after year. I planted some Dahlia tubers last years after watching Sarah Raven. I bought an assorted bag from my local garden centre and they grew really well. They attracted wildlife and lasted all summer. I lifted the tubers in the Autumn and divided them. It was a bit scary to do it - I wasn't sure if I was doing it right, and it was one of those leap of faith moments. I planted them out this Spring, and they all grew. Hoorah!! The point being that this is one way to get more for your flowery pound. They are a good cut flower too, and will continue to flower if you deadhead regularly.
I've already posted about them here, but I do love them so. Tall wafty spires with small clusters of flowers. I buy them as small plants in the Spring. They will flower all summer long, and are beautiful as a cut flower. Butterflies adore this plant. I have lots of this in my garden this year, as they have self seeded all over the place. They give height and structure to a border, but there is also a dwarf variety (lollipop) that looks pretty too.
This is a perennial plant that I grew for the first time last year. Olly loves this plant. It's quite innocuous and you would think that the tiny flowers that pop out of the spiky globe wouldn't attract much attention. But the bees flock to it. Last year we counted over thirty bees on five of the globes. There's something about this plant that I find quite beautiful. The thistles grows bigger and bigger, and change colour from green to a purply blue colour. They are also a hardy plant, as they thrive in coastal areas. I think everyone with children should plant one of these!
These are my favourites in the garden this year, but I should also mention Snapdragons, Salvia, Honeysuckle, Lavatera, Aster, Lupin, Nicotania, Rudbekia, Lavender, Foxgloves and Achillea. They are all beautiful and attractive to pollinators.The Nicotania deserves a special mention. It's flower comes alive at dusk and evening. It pumps out a rich heady scent, so is great to have some planted near a seating area or by your back door. It is very attractive to Moths, who can be over looked as a pollinator.
I have planted all of these liberally throughout the garden. They seem to dovetail nicely together in a mis-matched, riotous and slightly scruffy kind of way. I'm not one for straight lines in the garden. My right angled mania is reserved for indoors. Outside it is a higgledy piggledy affair, but I like it that way. My garden is my pride and joy.
Obviously this is not an exhaustive list, and it would be great to know which are your favourite plants to grow, especially if they attract my beloved pollinators!