It all started on a cold ,wet and windy night in Feb. 2012 .I saw a tv program about the demise of the bumblebees and other pollinators by Sarah Raven.My wife said I became obsessed with bumblebees.I dug up most of the lawn 50’ x 40’(much to the disgust of my 2 dogs, I did leave them with little bit of lawn.)I also turned part of my allotment, 75’s 70’, over to flowers.Finally I persuaded my wife Ann and her friend Jane to convert the village graveyard over to flowers rather than grass( they are in charge of keeping it tidy(see glorious graveyards,posted 12_13_2012 .I shall do a progress report on at a later date.
Let’s get back to competition.
I have done gardening for about 40years,the last 30 organically During that 30years I grew phacelia as a green manure usually digging it in before it flowers.I always left a patch of it next to my beans and peas to attract the bees to help pollinate them.Simular to Alex Morton in his article Making our orchard bee friendly in the March edition of Buzzword.I can agree with Alex that the bees are very attracted to the phacelia.The downfall of phacelia is the short flowering period.
Last year I grew it in 30’x 2’ strips on the allotment.sowing the first strip on April 15 under fleece.The rest of the strips I sowed at 3 week intervals until Aug.5.The result was continual flowering from June 10 until th end of Oct.
Pros.Bees love it .Very quick from sowing to flowering 6 weeks in mid summer.
Cons.Short flowering period.it’s an annual
I had never heard of it until I bought a packet of cornfield wildflower mix seeds.After sowing the seeds in 2012 I noticed the bumblebees where mostly on the cornflower.In 2013 having collected the seed fron 2012
I sowed a 30’x2’ strip next to the phacelia to compare them.The bumblebees seem to favour both flowers equally going from one type to the other.The cornflower flowers from June until a heavy frost.The ones in the churchyard flowered until December.
Pros.bumblebees love it.It has a long flowering period.
Cons .it’s an annual .
(I am testing the perennial and cultivated types this year will report later.)
The winner for me is the sunflower because of it flowers longer.Although I will still be growing phacelia mainly as a gap filler between crops and in the garden.
I hope you have enjoyed my long winded report on mine and my friends the bumblebees 2 favourite flowers
Must buzz along now jacka