One of my biggest joys of gardening is planting things. I love that moment when a new plant goes in, especially when I know that in due course it will become a magnet for some creature or other.

So imagine my thrill level last Sunday given that I was about to plant a hundred new plants in my new Bee Border.

I had prepared the soil over the previous few weeks, digging out weeds, turning the soil, letting the next crop of weeds germinate and then hoeing and weeding those out so that I had a pretty clear bed to plant in.

It is quite a big border, about 8-metres long and 4-metres wide. The problem is that filling a bed that size with plants can be incredibly expensive, but I have a three-part strategy to keep costs to a minimum.

  1. Last year I collected lots of self-sown seedlings from around the garden of favourite wildlife-friendly plants, potted them up, and they've sat quite happily overwinter. That gave me my 100 plants to start with.
  2. But 100 young plants don't go far when you first plant them, so to augment them I sowed seed directly into the bed. This was not the seed of annual flowers, but of herbaceous perennial flowers that will hopefully then fill the bed and keep going for many years. Overall, I planted about 40 different species into the bed, some of which had come as freebies on the cover of gardening magazines, some of which I'd been given by friends, some of which I'd collected from the wild, and some I'd bought. To give them their best chance, I raked the bed thoroughly to ensure the topsoil was a fine tilth. I then sowed each type of seed in straight drills so that I can tell them from any remaining weed seeds which might come up, and labelled each drill (using wooden lollipop sticks rather than plastic) so that the whole bed currently looks like a miniature graveyard!
  3. The third part of my strategy is called 'No worries'. Even with 100 young plants in the ground, a new bed can still look very bare, and of the 40 types of seeds I planted maybe only 50% will get established. But by accepting that it will take time and that not everything will work, I can just now enjoy the process of seeing the bed develop.

So here is the border, planted up:

What you can probably make out is that one of the things I planted were some logs. Yes, logs! These are lengths of trunk from a dead old pear tree that was too unsafe to leave standing. Now turned into a natural sculpture, they provide an instant focal point, and dug in to a depth of about 50 cm they are very stable. They will rot in time, but should give several years of pleasure to me, and to the solitary bees, woodlice and Stag Beetles that will use them, and to the Robin who already perches on top.

Oh, and I can't not mention my little helper, who accompanied me throughout my raking and planting process. Mrs Blackbird has just built a new nest in a clematis, but she was keen to let me know how much she adores the new border.

I'll blog again about the new border later in the summer so that you can see how much progress such a feature makes in its first season, and how quickly nature benefits.