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Wanted - Advice on a visually attractive bush, shrub or planting for North facing garden that will be good for bumblebees

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Total Posts: 7

Joined 2013-04-21

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Hi,

I am looking to plant my front garden with visually attractive plant or plants that will be good for bumblebees and other pollinators.

It is North facing, but of an open aspect and is about 2.5 metres square.  Should grow no more than 3 metres tall.

Any ideas…?

Thanks

     
RankRankRank

Total Posts: 77

Joined 2012-05-23

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Good question as north facing can be a problem.  You could start by going to the RHS plant selector webpage at http://apps.rhs.org.uk/plantselector/  You can give full details of soil type etc. etc.  I don’t know if they give information about BB friendliness but once you have selected some you like you could perhaps come back to the Forum.  I for one would be interested in the selection available.

Good hunting

Sue Sparrow

     
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Total Posts: 15

Joined 2012-08-21

PM

Hello Platdejour,

What a nice problem to have!

You could try foxglove and teasel plants. Bumblebees like both these plants.
They are both biennials so will give some greenery through the winter months.
Once they have flowered and set seed they should self-sow for future years with thinning of seedlings all that is required.
Teasels have very large leaves and these can cover the ground for about a two feet diameter but with some careful pruning as they grow they will not stunt nearby plants and the teasel plant will not be harmed.

I have seen both these plants grown successfully in a north facing garden.

Good luck!

vicbee

     
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Total Posts: 15

Joined 2012-08-21

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You may also like to look at the following plants bearing in mind that each will have many species with some better for shade and a north-facing aspect than others:

Vibernum
Mahonia
Pyracantha
Bluebell – native English - Hyacinthoides non-scripta
Primrose
Deutzia
Hollyhock - I have seen these successfully grown in a north-facing aspect

As always you need to check that any plant or seed that you purchase can still produce pollen and nectar and has not been bred to exclude these.

Mahonia for example has many species which flower from autumn through to spring.
With some careful research and planning you may be able to offer forage for bees throughout the year in your choice of plants.

Depending on your particular situation: soil type, exposure to north wind etc. and how adventurous you feel you could try something like lungwort/pulmonaria which is hardy and likes partial shade but which may (or may not!) survive in your particular spot.

If you adopt a ‘try it and see’ approach to your planting you could be surprised!

I wish you luck in your adventure.

vicbee

     
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Total Posts: 13

Joined 2014-03-25

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Hi
Like yourself l have a north facing garden. The plants I grow there are very bee friendly and grow happily facing north with no sun until mid summer.
Winter flowering Heather Erica flowers from Nov to may
Christmas rose flowers from end of Dec to April
Lungwort.        ”          ”    March to may
Forget me not.  ”          ”    April to June
Bugle.            ”            ”  April to June
Winter hardy fuchsia ”      ”  June to frost
Himalayan honey suckle ”  ” July to Sept (bees are always on it)
I grow daffodils and tulips amongst the fuchsia.
I hope this helps you in your quest for a Bee friendly garden in a shady spot.

     
Rank

Total Posts: 7

Joined 2013-04-21

PM

Thanks for all your suggestions.

I will definitely try some of these. In fact I came back from my parents’ place in the countryside yesterday with several native self-seeded foxgloves I’d dug up from their garden.

As for a feature bush, I will try one of the Hydrangea species that still have fertile flowers.  The Web recommends these as being attractive to pollinators: The lacecap varieties - http://urbanpollinators.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/the-sterile-hydrangea.html; Hydrangea quercifolia - http://colleenmiko.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/hydrangea-quercifolia-oakleaf-hydrangea-plant-fix/; Or maybe Hydrangea paniculata “Limelight” http://www.ehow.com/info_8630645_limelight-hydrangea-flowers.html

Thanks again..

     
Rank

Total Posts: 4

Joined 2014-04-07

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A really good shrub is the Leycesteria, also called the Pheasant Berry. It is very easy to grow in sun or shade and is loved by BBs. An added bonus is the berries which feed the birds in the autumn. Ours have survived frost, snow and winds and even if a stem does die, the plant shoots readily from the base. Also they’ve retained most of their leaves throughout winter even though I understand they are deciduous.

Don’t wish to put you off the hydrangea lacecaps but the BBs didn’t go for the couple of those that we had.

Best of luck.