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Planting a bee friendly garden

Purple flowered columbine

By Corinne Clemson on behalf of Crich Open Gardens


We all love to see a garden full of buzzing insect life and the importance of attracting bees into our gardens can’t be underestimated. Here are some suggestions of plants we can add to our borders to provide the food that bees and other insects need.


• Generally it’s important to have a range of plants with different flowering periods and flower shapes. Bees prefer open flower shapes without multiple whorls of petals

• If you can bear it, it’s useful to leave weeds even if it’s just a small patch - bees love clover, dandelions and poppies

Flowering cherry tree

• In springtime bees will love visiting the flowering cherry, hawthorn and crab apple trees. We also love the same things as bees; those lovely daffodils and hyacinths that chase winter away will attract bees out on a warm day and later on, our native bluebells are a very important source of nectar, try to avoid the Spanish variety

• In summer our native lavenders, scabious, foxgloves, salvias and cornflowers will contribute to the scent in our gardens, and flowering herbs are useful for the bees’ diet as well as our own, a patch of marjoram or oregano will soon be covered in bees

common spotted orchids

• In autumn the sedums, single dahlias, Japanese anemones and asters will keep your garden buzzing as well as providing some late colour

• In the winter it’s still possible for bees to find food on a warm day and those early harbingers of spring, the snowdrop will be welcomed by the bees, as well as by us. Bees also love ivy flowers which can be found in abundance adorning the dry stone walls around Crich

• Lastly, pesticides are the enemy of bees, try to avoid them by companion planting for example planting marigolds and nasturtiums alongside crops can help deter greenfly and black fly