Bee macro Jan B 3
By David Domoney

The best way to encourage pollinators into your garden is to grow plenty of pollen and nectar rich plants.

By choosing a variety of plants with different flowering times, you can have bees and butterflies in your garden from early spring to late autumn. Then, you can sit back and enjoy the sight of your beautiful blooms and fluttering of butterflies whilst hearing the soft buzzing of bees.

Purple reign

Interestingly, bees can see the colour purple more clearly than any other shade, so having your pick of purple plants is a great start.

However, this doesn’t mean that the other coloured flowers need to be dug up and discarded. For a classic cottage garden choice, Nepeta (catmint) ‘Weinheim Big Blue’ is a great all-rounder. It will sit pretty at the front of a border where pollinators can enjoy it and you can also appreciate the strong, lemony fragrance.

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Globe thistle. Photo: Annette Meyer/Pixabay

For architectural interest, look no further than Echinops ritro (globe thistle) ‘Veitch’s Blue’ that grows up to 1 metre tall.

Plant in a sunny spot in well-drained soil and bees, butterflies, and beneficial insects will pay them a visit. In summer, cut down the plant after it has flowered and you can encourage a second round of blooms to extend their beauty.

Pastel shades

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Cosmos: Photo: S Hermann & F Richter/ Pixabay

Pretty in pink, cosmos are also available in a range of colours like white, red, orange, and yellow.

The saucer shaped flowers are easily accessible for pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hoverflies. Alternatively, choose Cosmos atrosanguineus (chocolate cosmos) for deep maroon flowers to add a rich chocolatey fragrance to the garden. Cosmos grow best in a sunny spot with moist but well-drained soil.

One thing to bear in mind is the flowering times of the plants for your pollinators. For example, just having summer flowering plants will mean you won’t be attracting bees and butterflies earlier in the year.

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Hellebores. Photo: Mabel Amber/Pixabay

Therefore, plants like hellebores are not only great for winter interest visually but are a great source of food for pollinators in early spring.

Plant them as soon as they are bought in a moist but well-drained soil in a partially shaded spot. Keep them looking their best by removing spent flowerheads as well as dead, damaged, or diseased foliage.

Fiery tones

Add some exotic colour to your planting schemes with orange, yellow, and red flowers that will add some drama whilst attracting pollinators.

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Ribes sanguineum. Photo: Myriams-Fotos/Pixabay

Ribes sanguineum (flowering currant) has clusters of deep pink-red flowers from April. Growing up to 3m tall, they are fully hardy and prefer a sunny spot with moist but well-drained soil. ‘Pulborough Scarlet’ is a compact choice, perfect for a shrub border.

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Mahonia japonica. Photo: Pxhere

The yellow flowers of Mahonia japonica are popular with pollinators when they bloom from late autumn to early spring. As an evergreen, it will provide year-round interest in a shaded or partially shaded spot.

As well as plants, it’s also ideal to provide fresh water in a shallow dish or saucer filled with pebbles to allow bees to land for a drink.

Get your garden primed and ready with these plants that will attract pollinators. By choosing a variety of plants with different flowering times, you can be providing pollen and nectar-rich flowers for most of the year.

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