Bee on Echinacea

Plants To Entice Bees To Your Garden

rudibeckia,-sedum,-grass-w

Rudbeckia, sedums and grass

*** It’s very important to have flowers all season long, from February to frost, to satisfy the early Masons right through to the late season foragers. Plant several of each, as bees like to ensconce themselves in a big patch of their favourite flowers and just hang out, gathering pollen and sipping nectar in the sun.

***Bees are classified according to their tongue length! A variety of flower shapes from flat daisies to large convoluted and tubular blossoms will keep them all happy.

***Let your herbs and veggies (especially brassicas) go to flower; all kinds of bees and beneficial insects will thank you.

***Try to keep all pollinator plants watered in times of drought. They may survive well without water, but their nectar supply dwindles, dries up without regular water, depriving the bees of an important source of carbohydrate.

***Bees and all insects need a source of water. Bird baths are good, but the pollinators all need a perch to stand on, put a large flat rock in with the water. Even the smaller birds will find this helpful. An interesting fact is that conifers planted in the garden hold the morning dew amongst their needles, providing a drink for the smaller critters.

The list below is far from a comprehensive list, but highlights of some of the best.

EARLY SEASON

Oregon Grape (Mahonia); our native Mason bees, bumble bees

Pieris; all varieties flower early, loved by Mason bees

Red-flowering currant (Ribes) important source for Masons

Winter heathers (Erica); often seen swarming with bumbles and honey bees here at the nursery

Sweetbox (Sarcococca); shrub, flowers early and loved by emerging bumblebees

Clover in the lawn, allowed to flower, attracts many bees. Wear shoes!

Bluebells; while somewhat weedy, they are great for long-tongued bees

Foxgloves (Digitalis); big clumsy bumbles love them, also Masons and others

Camas; important early source of pollen for queen bumblebees

Shooting star (Dodecatheon); native, bees hang upside down to access nectar and pollen; an important bumble bee plant

 

Shasta and bee

Shasta and bee

MID to LATE SEASON

Blanket flower (Gaillardia) has 32% sugar content in nectar, a stellar bee plant

Gayfeather (Liatris); late blooming honey plant; large swath for best effect

Hyssop (Agastache); special value to native bees, and significant to bumblebees

Lavender; another plant that is always swarmed at the nursery

Coneflower (Echinacea) attracts many different bees with its vibrant colour petals

Sunflower; one of the best for all summer bees, attracting from a long distance

Ocean Spray (Holodiscus); native shrub, good for butterfly larvae and native bees

Russian Sage (Perovskia); purple colour loved by honey bees and bumble Queens

Catmint (Nepeta); honey bees and bumble bees collect both pollen and nectar

Goldenrod (Solidago) draws native bees and bumblebees, acid yellow colour

Vine Maple (Acer Circinatum) native tree for native bees, host for Swallowtail

Wild rose (Rosa nutkana) loved by leafcutter bees, host for many butterflies.

Aster; fall source of pollen and nectar, a very important plant for bees

Sneezeweed (Helenium); always covered in honeybees!

Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium); fall honey plant, also native bees and butterflies

Sedum, especially Autumn Joy, is covered with honey bees in late summer and fall

To really see which plants are pollinator favourites, just walk through the nursery at any time of year. The bees will tell you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Allium Purple Sensation

A Gallery of Alliums for Every Garden

By Faye 

Onions are alliums, chives are alliums and leeks are alliums. Alliums are among the oldest cultivated plants in the world, adding much to nearly every global cuisine.

Ornamental alliums however, are relatively new to the landscape, being developed in Holland around the middle of the 19th century. Many new varieties have been introduced in the last decade, and oh, what a wonder they are!

allium-schubertii

Allium Schubertii seed head

Ranging in size from ping pong ball to larger than a basketball, globe-shaped, allium flowers add sophistication, architectural interest and colour for months, rising elegantly on leafless stems above strappy foliage. They bridge the gap between the spring blooming stars of the early garden and summer flowers, and after their bloom is spent, alliums offer even more with their outstanding seed heads. Writing this article in October, I still have stunning orbs of Schubertii seed heads in my front garden that literally stop passers by in their tracks.

While popular with butterflies and other pollinators, they are avoided by deer and rabbits presumably to avoid onion breath! I have had the pre-bloom foliage sampled occasionally but the flowers are never touched. They thrive in full sun in average, very well drained soil; like other bulbs they resent soggy ground. With these minimal requirements met, alliums will bloom reliably for years.

Alliums play well with others, in fact they are best planted with leafy perennials in front to cover their foliage, which does tend to look less than stellar by the time the blooms emerge. The tall, stately orbs show well in the mid to back of the border.

The famed landscape designer Piet Oudolf favours alliums in his meadow-like landscapes, pairing them with undisciplined perennials and grasses, but they are equally at home in a formal design with more architectural plantings. While alliums in general have similarities, several unique characteristics are described below.

Allium azureum, one of the true blue flowers in horticulture, stands out from its peers by the clear blue orbs atop the 80 cm stems. Delightful sprinkled through a rose garden, with penstemon, hardy geraniums, or yellow daisies.

Bulgaricum has a slightly different flower style, with creamy bell-shaped pendant buds that dangle from stem top as it approaches the 30-60 cm height.  This is a very elegant plant alongside wider leaved plants such as sun-tolerant blue hostas, Calla lilies, Alchemilla mollis.

Aptly named, Allium ‘Chameleon’ does change colour as the flower matures. Starting off dark rose to pink, then white with stripes, it is loved by bees as are all alliums. Only 35cm tall, this is one to grow in a drift near the front of border, perhaps with small conifers or broad leafed perennials.

allium-purple-sensation

Purple Sensation allium

Christophii, or Star of Persia, grows to only 50cm tall, but the umbels are a massive 20cm, followed by attractive seed heads. Each umbel consists of up to 100 star-shaped pinkish flowers with a metallic sheen. Due to the size of the full umbel, plant only 1 bulb per square foot, and allow it to stand out by planting with fine grasses. This variety has received the coveted Award of Garden Merit from the RHS.

Try Drumstick allium with Stipa tennuissima, Perovskia ‘Little Spire’, and Lilies. Diminutive egg-shaped flowers start off green, then pink then turn a dark reddish hue, and planted densely (16 per square foot) will age gracefully, fading through summer. Grow where you want a more ‘casual’ look.

‘Fireworks’ really does look like an explosion of colour. Only 20cm tall, full of spring freshness which will blend well with late season tulips in similar hues, or use as a vibrant splash among Heucheras and other foliage plants.

‘Graceful Beauty’ with 3” starry white flowers looks beautiful planted in drifts through the garden. Peonies, Lambs’ Ears, and grasses are lovely companions. This is an American native, cultivated since 1857.

allium-hair

Hair allium

Hair allium does look like it’s having a bad hair day, in a delightfully charming way, of course. Big on attitude, this little beauty is a whimsical conversation piece to be sure, and stands out with poppies, irises, penstemon and lilies.

‘Purple Sensation’ being slightly larger, looks full at 9 bulbs per square foot, planted in drifts. It is the earliest allium to flower. Outstanding combined with silver foliage, pale variegated leaves, Lupins, Euphorbia, and Alchemilla mollis. Favoured by flower arrangers for its long-lasting blooms.

Allium ‘Schubertii’ is a massive umbel (30cm) that looks like a botanical explosion. It dies back gracefully to leave behind a long-lasting seed head that may be more impressive than the bloom itself. Stunning in late spring with shrubs such as Berberis, conifers, and columnar flowers such as Salvia and Foxglove. Another RHS Award of Garden Merit plant, this one’s exceptional.

Alliums bring colour, style, and architectural artistry to the garden. They enhance other plants and bridge the gap between late spring and early summer bloom. They are reliable, deer resistant, and easy to grow, so what’s not to love? Do try them, you won’t be disappointed.