I'm pleased to hand over to Denise Smith from wildaboutdevon.co.uk for today's blog, as it sounds like she has been busy on the planting front!
Whilst working in my garden recently, I was thrilled to notice a constant stream of Red-tailed Bumblebees, Bombus lapidarius, going into the old hedgehog tunnel underneath my shed (left). I observed them flying in and then back out, away from my garden. Looking around, I could see why they didn’t hang around. There were very few flowers.So, the following day, I planted some foxgloves and imported some forget-me-nots and Red Campion from the front garden. I monitored closely, but couldn’t see the bees using them, which was partly due to the fact that the flowers on the foxgloves had dropped off (I think I may have mentioned before that gardening is not one of my strengths!).Luckily, two weeks later, lots of my already existing plants started to flower. Yesterday, I spotted three different species of bees on the Fuschia 'Mrs. Popple' (right, with Common Carder Bee Bombus pascuorum), Scabious 'Pink Diamond', Hebe 'Pink Pixie' and Purple Toadflax. They didn’t include the Red-tailed Bumblebees, but at least I know that the nectar and pollen are there and detectable!
Interesting to see Denise using the 'Pink Diamond'', which is a cultivar of Scabiosa japonica from the Far East. I grow our own common scabious, Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis), which has a very similar flower, but is just somewhat taller and stragglier. It's hard to go wrong with any scabious as far as bees are concerned, and as they need nectar and pollen on into the autumn, Devil's-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis) is a great plant to try for August through to October. The photo shows Denise's Pink Diamond with a Leafcutter Bee.
You could try planting Centaurea Montana, it’s a perennial, very easy to grow, flowers early and the bees love it. It will fill in the gap before your other flowers begin. If you cut it right back after flowering you’ll get a second flush later in the year.
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