Surrey Homes | SH57 | July 2019 | Summer supplement inside


The lifestyle magazine for Surrey - Inspirational Interiors, Fabulous Fashion, Delicious Dishes

landed, it can spend more time collecting food from one

place, rather than wasting time flitting from bloom to bloom.

Colour sends a message

Plants use colour to send a signal, advertising to the insects

that the nectar bar is open for business. Brightly coloured

flowers are naturally found in sunny situations, but in the

shade the flowers tend to be pale, often white or cream, as this

shows up better in dim light. They lure in the insects with

scent rather than colour, pumping out their fragrance more

vigorously in the evening to attract in moths and beetles.

Although bees will collect nectar from different flowers,

they are very drawn to flowers at the blue end of the spectrum,

with herbs such as lavender, thyme and borage most favourite.

Plants to grow for the bees

Native species, but not necessarily our natives, are the most

valuable plants to pollinating insects, rather than highly bred

cultivars encouraged to give up on producing nectar and

pollen in favour of extra large or frilly petals instead. These

tend to be sterile too, so of no interest to hungry insects. Stick

to blooms that are open hearted with a single row of petals,

instead of the show-offs which always remind me of the huge,

puffy, Princess Diana-style wedding dresses of the 1980s.

Contact Jo for gardening courses and advice: 01233 861149

Some useful nectar rich plants:

Early flowers

Lonicera fragrantissima – a shrubby,

winter flowering honeysuckle with

very fragrant, nectar rich flowers.

Hellebore – both the early Helleborus niger

(Christmas rose), the slightly later Helleborus

orientalis (Lenten rose) and the shrubbier Helleborus

argutifolius will provide a vital source of nectar for

early emerging bumble bees and other insects.

Early spring bulbs, such as winter

aconites, crocuses, Scillas and Muscari

will carpet under trees and shrubs.


Aquilegias – these appear at the end of spring

and will self-seed in favourable conditions

Herbs, such as Thyme and Marjoram, are

very pretty when they flower – just cut

them back as you would lavender once

they’ve finished to keep them tidy.

Scabious – a mound forming perennial for the

front of the border with long lasting ‘pin cushion’

flowers in shades of pale blue, pink or white.

Late summer and autumn

Buddleia – our beloved butterfly bush that flowers

in late summer and attracts a mass of pollinating

insects. Prune hard in spring so that you will be

able to appreciate the flowers at eye level – left

unpruned buddleias grow too tall and unruly – and

the flowers will appear right at the top of the plant.

Hebe – these mainly evergreen shrubs come

in many sizes, but all produce nectar rich

flowers at around the same time as buddleias

Verbena bonariensis – a tall, wiry, but elegant

meadow plant from Argentina. If it likes you, it will

set seed literally everywhere…

Asters – with their late flowering daisy flower

heads will flower into October and beyond.

Abelia grandiflora – an autumn flowering shrub

with small, pale pink flowers and long lasting

darker, rusty pink bracts

Above: A lavender hedge will keep the bees happy for weeks

Right: Hellebores are a great source of early nectar.


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