This year i have bought lots of wildflower seeds, to try and feed more bees. I will let you know how each flower performs for the bees and how easy they are to grow from seed. This will be my first year of wildflowers, so wish me luck
I’m getting my garden into shape too, I’ve moved some plants about so I can really maximise the sunny spot. I’ve put in a couple of scabious already and a friend is sourcing some cosmos and an aster for me, any gaps will get a sprinkle of wild seed.
Lets hope we get a better summer
My garden is too small to accommodate many random wild flowers so last year I bought a few small plants of moon daisy, red clover, field poppy, vetch. The field poppy were the post popular with the BBs as I didn’t see any interest in the moon daisy, red clover or vetch. Perhaps the plants were too small.
I did also sow some Vipers Bugloss (Echium vulgare) seed but they will not flower until this year. I also have foxgloves, yarrow and teazels, which are great favourites.
Sparrow - Sue
One little word of warning guys - please check where your seed comes from. Many seed providers use seeds sourced from the continent ... so what you think is a true native mix/species can actually have ‘interlopers’ in there as well. Not so much of a problem if you are sowing in your garden ... but please exercise caution if you are spreading joy in the wild:-)
On the other hand .... every little bit helps:-)
Thank you for your words of caution Burnslady
I like to buy a lot of my plants from our local WI market
There will be an article in the next Buzzword about planting wildflower seeds in your garden, with suggested suppliers of native wildflower seed that guarantee it is of UK origin. Coming to a door step near you soon ! Thanks, Jo
Hi all thanks for your interesting replies.
I agree about sourcing wildflower seeds, i use a British company who source from their own fields in Somerset and their prices are excellent, best of both worlds!
Yes i so hope we have a good summer, the bees need it after the disaster of last year
Happy planting everyone.
I have become really into wildflowers too over the last 2 or 3 years, so am always interested to see what everyone else is growing and how you get on.
Something that works for me is a pot of small scabious which has been by my back door for 3 years now, it flowers all summer long though I do dead head it until late summer then leave it to get lots of seed which germinates easily. The original plant just gets bigger every year so unlike bedding plants no need to keep buying new ones, win win!
Look forward to reading more about everyone elses’s successes and failures this year!
Yes Scabious is a wonderful plant for bees, bumble’s and solitaries. Mine all died last year as the never ending wet summer caused them to get a mildew infection which sadly killed them. I have been a keen gardener for 20 years and my scabious have never died before :-(
I am trying Phacaleia this year for the first time as it is a bee magnet, so i’ve heard. I sprinkled seed last autumn annd the plants are already a foot high with little clusters of yellow buds at the end of each branch, so will hopefully flower soon.
A comment on Phacelia.
Some years back I went to Rothamsted Research Station on a Beekeeper’s outing. (They do bee research there.)
There was a patch of Phacelia growing on an small patch of ground - perhaps 20 - 50 sq metres.
It was well away from any of the bee-science work.
You could HEAR the happy buzz of the hundreds of bees that were working the flowers from a considerable distance.
From memory, most of them were bumbles.
Hi Alibumble and Clive,
How interesting, I haven’t come across Phacelia before and had trouble finding it in my books but looked it up on the net, it looks very pretty as well as bee friendly. It’s always good to learn something new, I look forward to seeing how you get on growing your Phacelia Alibumble.
I am a little bemused that the queens I have seen in the last week don’t seem interested in the carpet of native primroses flowering just now, prefering some very tatty old violas in a pot and the even more tatty remains of viburnum bodnantense flowers, at least the lungwort is very popular though!
Hi Carol and Alibumble,
A bit more on Phacelia.
Round where I live there is a bit of Pheasant rearing and in some places special strips are left at the edges of felds for what I think are “Pheasant Fodder”. There are usually some form of brassica, often radish type plants which set seed and also Phacelia, Dog Daises etc.
So I presume that Phacelia seed is in copious commercial supply.
My wife gets her allotment seeds from a specialist seed company in Essex called Wallis seeds. Amongst many hundreds of flower and vegetable seeds are some sold for Green Manure crops - and my memory says that you’ll find Phacelia there. It is officially Phacelia tanuicifolia or somesuch.
We’ve bought some white clover green manure seed from them and are trying growing it instead of grass, because the darned badgers keep digging up the lawn to get at Chafer grubs which eat the grass roots. I’m hoping that the deeper roots of clover won’t interest the chafers and the flowers will be good for bees too - so It’s really an experiment.
That is great, I found Phacelia tanacetifolia images and lots of companies selling the seed including Mr Fothergill and Sarah Raven. My neck of the woods (soggy Lakes) isn’t a big crop growing area apart from grass for stock and silage and our soil locally is very wet heavy clay so perhaps that’s why I haven’t come across it before.
I am having a year off vegetable gardening and planned to plant the raised beds with flowers like cosmos, borage etc. for insects but this seems like an even better idea, I am so glad you mentioned it Alibumble. Clive thank you so much for the extra info and good luck with the clover/cockchafer experiment. We have a lot of trouble with leather jackets, sadly they do seem to eat clover roots but fingers crossed the cockchafers leave it alone.
List of Do’s:
1. Check what is growing wild locally - I spend months with notebook and pen in hand walking the local countryside noting the variety of wildflowers
2. Only purchase native grown seed or grown plants - hybrids are less productive in nectar/pollen
3. Neighbours/local gardening clubs/allotments can often be a valuable source of information
4. Check soil type in your garden; which direction garden faces and the wind loves to gust - these all have an influence on citing and repositioning should your 1st or even 4th spot not work
5. Propagate and take cuttings - fun and free
6. Utilise the Internet and such organisations as they Bumblebee Conservation for invaluable advice
In my experience a wildlife garden should be organic and ever evolving as we learn more and try different things. Each garden I have worked on has usually taken approximately 3/4 years to come to fruition but always worth the wait.
With this dismal weather this year i have had bad luck with my seed growing. Most of my seedlings grew but as yet none have flowered including my mainstay, Cosmos! Last year i had cosmos flowering in April!
I sowed Phacelia in the ground last autumn and that has grown massive which is great. However, My Corncockle’s, Snapdragons, Cornflowers, Toadflax, Ragged Robin’s, Knapweed, Musk Mallow, Rudbeckia have not flowered yet at all. I planted 3 types of Scabious but they didn’t germinate!
The only success was Borage which i grew from seed and which has just started flowering this past week.
Has anyone else had this trouble this year, or is it just me?
It’s not just you Alibumble, everything is behind in my garden too. We had a lot of snow just before Easter and things just haven’t really caught up yet, I think I’ll get my first bunch of sweet peas in August!
I finally germinated some Devil’s bit scabious this year after several attempts, I sowed it last autumn and left the pot outside in a sheltered spot and it worked, so it might be worth hanging on to yours, there could be time yet.