Bee napping on flower scaled

Plants For Bumblebees

Courtesy of Lori Weidenhammer

A link to Lori’s Blog.

* Denotes a medicinal plant for bees

BOLD denotes special interest for bumblebee plants (buzz pollinated, longer corollas or special relationships, ie trip pollination)

Native and Near Native Shrubs: Willow (Salix spp.) maybe the most important plant for honeybees and significant for bumblebee queens, Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea) is another good one for weavers, Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) also an essential bee plant because it blooms over a period of months, Black Twinberry (Lonicera involucrata) Loads of nectar, berries used for dye, Hairy Manzanita (Arctostaphylos columbiana)

June Gap: Ninebark (Physocarpus spp.) native species is Pacific Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus), Spirea spp., native is Spirea douglassi, Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii), Native Roses

Edible/Drinkable Shrubs: Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis), Oregon Grape (Berberis spp.), Kinnikinnik (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.),  Evergreen Huckleberry  (Vaccinium ovatum), Wood’s Rose (Rosa Woodsii), Prickly Rose (R. acicularis), Blueberry Vaccinium spp.Potentilla spp.

Sumac (Rhus spp.), Blue Elderberry (Sambucus cerulea), Currants (Ribes spp.) clove currant and red-flowering don’t plant European black currants, Raspberry (Rubus spp.) Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus)High Bush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum)Labrador tea (Rhododendron groenlandicum),

Native and Near-Native Trees: Arbutus (Arbutus menziesii), Chokecherry, Crabapple the native is Pacific Crabapple (Malus fusca), Pincherry, Saskatoon, Western Mountain Ash (Sorbus scopulina)

Native Vines: Virgin’s Bower Clematis (Clematis ligustifolium) beware of invasive look-alikes, Trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa)

Exotic Trees: Redbuds (Cercis spp.), Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), Linden (Tilia spp.) avoid silver linden (Tilia tomentosa); Stone Fruit Trees: apple, cherry, peach, apricot, pear, quince, and plum

Exotic Shrubs: Spirea spp., Climbing roses, Potentilla spp. important late-blooming shrub

Edible Native Perennials: Native violets, Nodding onion (Allium cernuum) and other native alliums

Early Shade-tolerant Perennials: Bleeding heart (Dicentra spp.) toxic, Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum spp.), Canadian Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) and other Aquilegia spp. toxic 

Native and Near Native Perennials: Spring-gold (Lomatium utriculatum) an early-blooming umbel esp. important for short-tongued bees like the Western Bumblebee

Deltoid Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza deltoidea), Large-leafed Avens (Geum macrifolium) and other Geum spp.

Broad-leafed Shooting Star (Dodecatheon hendersonii)Milk Vetch (Astragalus spp.), Native Silvery Lupin (Lupinus argenteus) and other Lupinus spp., Blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia spp.), Broomrape (Orobanche spp.) Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor)Native Larkspurs (Delphium menziesii ) HIGH toxicity warning

Penstemon spp., Canadian Milk Vetch (Astragalus Canadensis and other native spp.), Blue Gentian (Gentiana spp.)Monkey Flower (Mimulus sp.)

Camassia spp., Woodland Strawberry (Fragraria vesca), Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium), Potentilla spp. native species and cultivars are great, Common Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia and other native and exotic spp.),

Plains Prickly Pear (Opuntia polyacantha)Gumweed (Grindelia spp.), Rocky Mountain Bee Plant (Cleome serrulata), Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), Erigeron spp., Native Lilies (Erythronium spp.), Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium spp.), Cranesbill Geranium (Geranium spp.)

Near Native Annual: Bienenfreunde aka Lacy Phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia) very important bee pasture plant for nectar and pollen—stagger-plant this throughout the growing season. Good for honeybees and bumblebees.

Late-Blooming Native and Near-Native Asteraceae: Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium spp.) Blanket Flower (Gaillardia spp.), Tickseed (Coreopsis spp.), Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritaceae), Asters (Symphyotrichum spp.), Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)Coneflowers (Echinacea spp.), Coneflowers (Ratibida spp.), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.), Gold Star (Crocidium multicaule)

Medicinal Exotic Perennials: *Turtlehead: (Chelone glabra), *Sage (Salvia spp.) *Meadow Sage (Salvia pratensis), *Oregano, *Thyme, *Dragonhead (Dracocephalum spp.), *Lavender (Lavandula spp.)

Exotic Perennials: Catmint (Nepeta cultivars) N. cataria can be invasive. Very important long-blooming plant for honeybees and bumblebees

California poppies (Eschscholzia californicacan be weedy, Liatris spp.Comfrey (Symphytum spp.), Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) comes with an invasive warning, Hollyhocks (and other Malva spp.), Wine Cup (Callirhoe involucrata), Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), Sea Holly (Eryngeum spp.), Globe Thistle (Echinops ritro), Caterpillar Flower (Phacelia bolerandi) works in dappled shade, Masterwort (Astrantia major), Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale), Verbena spp.,

Exotic Annuals: Borage (Borago officinalis) NB for nectar, Hairy Vetch (Vicia villosacan be weedy, Moroccan Toadflax (Linaria maroccana) plant instead of invasive toadflax spp., Blue Shrimp Plant (Cerinthe major), Globe Gilia (Gilia capitata), Zinnias (choose the large ones) Calendula (Calendula officinalis) long-blooming and open access,

Edible Exotic AnnualsScarlet Runner Beans, squash (Cucurbitae)

Medicinal Exotic Annuals: *Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum), *Tobacco (Nicotiana rustica), 

*Nightshades (Tomato, Pepper, Eggplant, Potato), 

Exotic Tubers: Dahlias (Avoid doubles)

Extra Edibles: Let some of your veggies bloom for bees: radishes, kale, leeks, carrots, parsnips

Extra bee-friendly herbage: cilantro, fennel and dill

Mixed Flowers

For The Love Of Flowers, Start A Cutting Garden

By Faye 

Cut FlowersMost of us want to bring the beauty and fragrance of flowers into our homes, but worry about plundering the garden beds by cutting off blooms. The solution? Plant a cutting garden! It needn’t be large but, if well planned, will reward you with glorious bouquets all season long. A few guidelines and suggestions to help you get started.


Site your cutting bed away from your main garden beds; it can be tucked behind the shed, against the garage, or even in the vegetable garden. It should be in a sunny spot, out of the wind, with good drainage and fertile soil amended with lots of compost, leaves, and slow-release fertilizer. If you haven’t gardened in this spot before, dig down deeply and add the amendments to the root zone.


Plant in rows or blocks, with the taller plants on the northernmost side so as not to shade the shorter plants. Some plants that require staking, like dahlias or delphiniums, are easier to stake when planted in well-spaced rows, and because this isn’t an ornamental bed, utilitarian staking isn’t a problem.


There are only 3 main guidelines for this, and they are simple; grow what you love to have inside the house or give to friends, grow plants that produce attractive foliage or many flowers over a long period, and generally look for plants with long flower stems. Pansies are sweet and they bloom early, but their short stems give them limited use for arrangements.

Both annuals and perennials have a place in a cutting garden. Perennials will bloom over a shorter period, but they are reliable and will be there again next year.  Annuals will keep on flowering until their season ends; keep the flowers cut, or deadhead any fading blooms to frustrate the plant’s need to create a seed, thereby forcing it to bloom again.

There are so many choices for excellent cutting flowers, but these plants get my vote for ease of care and reliable bloom over a long time:

Sweet Peas - Royal FamilyAnnuals:  Often started from seed, so they are inexpensive to experiment with. Try one new thing each year, just for fun!

  1. Sweet peas are easy, early, and we usually have lots of seedlings at the nursery.
  2. Cosmos bloom prolifically over a long season
  3. Calendula make cozy bouquets, and are also lovely in salads as the petals are edible.
  4. Stocks provide an aromatic delight, soft pastel colours, and interesting texture.
  5. Snapdragons can be stunning in arrangements, and often become perennial if they make it through the first winter. Many interesting varieties are now available from seed.
  6. Sunflowers; now many shorter, more colourful varieties to grow from seed.
  7. Dill, while an herb, has beautiful foliage and the flowers are delicate umbels which add an airy texture to floral displays. Best if grown from seed.
  8. Heliotrope has the most delicate scent. Dark purple adds that touch of drama.
  9. Salpiglossis is a seldom seen annual that is truly worth a try; seems to be aphid-resistant, mildew resistant, and the flowers are stunning. Yes, we have seeds.
  10. Asters come in a wide variety of shapes and often display gorgeous jewel tones of rich pink, purple and fuchsia.
  11. Zinnia is probably the most floriferous and rewarding flower for cutting. One friend said “I don’t ever want to be without zinnias” after trying them the first time. We will have seedlings of my very favourite seed mix ‘Granny’s Bouquet’.

Mixed FlowersPerennials

  1. Echinacea is famous as Purple Coneflower but now comes in a wider array of brilliant colours.  Seed pods are also pretty in arrangements, but wait until the end of the season to let too many of the flowers go to seed, or you’ll hamper flower production.
  2. Rudbeckia, or Black-Eyed Susan, are late-blooming in many shades of yellow to bronze to burnished orange.
  3. Physalis aka Chinese Lanterns are unmatched for autumn arrangements and even sprayed with gold for Christmas décor.
  4. Aquilegia, often two-toned; columbines are a favourite in spring and early summer. Can self-seed prolifically.
  5. Alstromeria is a very long-lasting cut flower. Can be invasive, so check variety or plant accordingly.
  6. Delphinium is tall, rich, and handsome.
  7. Aconitum or monkshood can be grown in partial shade, and stunning dark blue is natural for a dramatic floral display in late summer.
  8. Lupines provide height and texture in a wide array of colours.
  9. Foxgloves self-seed so you may have them beyond the cutting garden, but are beautiful with their height and fascinating interior colourations.
  10. Gaillardia are daisy-like gems of gold, orange and bronze.
  11. Dahlias can provide the most amazing flowers; colours that defy belief, and sizes in a range from golf balls to dinner plates. Plant in rows with strong stakes.

Whether or not you have space for a designated cutting garden, try some of these beauties combined with grasses, hosta leaves, and greens from your shrubs and other foliage plants, to give pleasure to yourself or those you love. Flowers make people happy.