Attracting Pollinators

Planting for pollinators

There’s nothing like the hum of bees on a sunny day. Bumbles, clambering into the throats of foxgloves and bending fragrant lavender spikes. Honeybees rolling around in hollyhock flowers, returning home laden with precious golden pollen. But bees and other pollinators are having a tough time of it, which spells danger for us. As a beekeeper, I am passionate about creating gardens that not only look beautiful but also are good for pollinators.

Autumn is a great time to establish new plants so, if that’s on your to do list, why not include plants that will encourage pollinators? A few points to remember – bees see blue flowers easiest, love orange, are drawn to petals with spots or veins and single flower forms provide easier access.Here are some of my favourites:

Ready for spring

It is a good time to plant spring bulbs and other early flowering plants.

These give much needed help to emerging bees. I particularly like the early floweringCrocus tommasinianus, which are laden with stores of pollen.

Also try:Pulmonaria, Winter aconite, Grape hyacinth (Muscari), Tulips, Bluebells, Snowdrops, Hellebores, and Sweet box (Sarcococca).

Going up the wall

I know, you expect me to say Jasmine or Honeysuckle, which are of course wonderful and give off fantastic perfume – so plant near your sitting area or patio doors. But, the evergreen Pyracanthagets my vote for also providing colourful autumn berries for the birds.  Grow this to hide a fence or train it horizontally to give interest to the outside of your house.  Also try: Sweet peas, Clematis, Climbing Roses and Hydrangea

Flowers, flowers and more flowers

Fill your borders with colour and enjoy the bees and butterflies that they will bring. Try sowing Foxglove seedsalthough its clever design excludes honeybees, the wonderful spires, with so many colours to choose from, make it a firm favourite. Salviaand Nepetaare absolutely alive with bees, flowering from June to October if cut back in late summer.

Also try shrubs/perennials such as:Coneflower (Echinacea), Echinops, Aster, Verbascum, Penstemon, Allium, Buddleia, Lavender, Rosemary, Viburnum.

For annuals try:Cosmos, Zinnia, Nicotiana, Sunflower, Cleome, Hollyhock, cornflower and Love-in-a- mist.


Veg Plot companions

Grow flowers with your veg that are pretty, good for pollinators and benefit the veg.I really likePhacelia and if you grow this annual, my honeybees will be bringing in blue pollen. It’s good for pollinators, is anexcellent green manure and helps keep aphids under control. Also try,Pot marigold, Thyme, Chives andNasturtiums, which also double aspest control.

Don’t forget trees

Honeybees look for high volumes of nectar and pollen and do a waggle dance to tell the rest of the hive where rich local sources of can be found. Trees are absolutely essential to their well-being. I love the Whitebeam, Sorbus aria‘Lutescens’.  It is deciduous with a soft silver leaf, white flowers in spring and red berries in autumn. It maintains a good shape with minimal pruning, making it suitable for most gardens.

Also try – Apple, Pear, Flowering Cherry and Robinia (False acacia), Willow, Hawthorn, Holly.

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Buy plants with this symbol on the label and your garden will be buzzing and fluttering with pollinators next year.

If you would like help to design a pollinator friendly garden, please drop me an email –

Rose Gill

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