So I marked Earth Day by setting myself three mini challenges – eat meat free/ vegan for Earth Day, choose some bee friendly plants for the garden; and have a closer look at my travel for the week.
Adding some nice flowery plants to the garden seemed like an easy win. I imagined something like this: go to garden centre, look for the bee logo on the plant label, scoop up something with pretty flowers and checkout, come home, plant my new purchases.
I started off along the right lines and then………… well, ……….. anxiety and overwhelm came out to play. What are the best choices? Is there such a thing as the best garden plant?
At this point you’re probably either smiling and nodding (in that ‘yep – been there’ way) or you think I’ve lost the plot.
But really this is just like going to the supermarket with no menu plan or shopping list and a big trolley. The end result is lots of lovely things; absolutely no clue how they will feed your family for the next week!
I had imagined my challenge to be relatively straightforward – I had just been thinking about setting up a nectar bar – bright flowers that bees love. But, I was missing some of the crucial thought process – where am I going to plant them? Will they thrive in the acid soil in our garden or do I need to find a pot and peat free compost? Can I make plant choices that are caterpillar friendly/ food for other insects in the garden?
The Royal Horticultural Society Plants for Pollinators scheme identifies really good reliable flowering plants (look for the bee logo on the plant label) but the rest of the information isn’t easily answered in the minimal information on a plant label so I needed to do some research before heading out.
I have also instigated a peat free motion in the garden this year so buying the average nursery grown plants will result in buying the peat in the plant pot too……. If this is my only choice then so be it but at least I could look for alternatives before making that choice.
I looked up lots of information on the internet. If you type ‘plants for bees’ into your search engine of choice you get thousands of hits! So, I turned to a great source of inspiration for gardening for wildlife on our local Wildlife Trust website (Scroll to the bottom of their web page for downloadable guides.) I looked through the Guide to helping bees (which also has a handy identifier for common bees in the garden).
To avoid the peat compost issue I went with buying seeds. For the flower borders I have chosen nasturtiums – good plant food for caterpillars, bees love the flowers and if the family is brave enough we can try the leaves and flowers in salads! I can also plant the seeds direct into the garden without having to find space in the greenhouse first. I am already growing verbena and night scented stocks for the long grass area at the bottom of the garden – to go with these I have sown calendula (common marigold) seeds which I will plant along the edge of the path through the long grass. My final choice is chives – I have other ornamental alliums in the garden but I’m hoping that chives will provide a nice edge to flower borders and flower through the summer so long as we don’t keep picking them!!
Lets hope the wildlife likes the choices!
What are planting for wildlife? Do share your ideas in the comments.