Bee Plant of the Month - November 2020 - Plan Bee
As promised in last month’s Bee Plant of the Month, this time, rather than focussing on a particular plant, I thought I would include a plan for a bee-friendly border which you can use or adapt.
I’m following the principle of my ‘4 Fs’ rule which I wrote about in a previous post (click here), so you will find reference to Focus, Framework, Flowers and Fillers.
In addition, because we’re looking at a bee-friendly border, seasonality plays a big part. Generally speaking, bees are active any time between early spring and late autumn, depending on the temperature and weather, so it’s important that we choose plants to cover the entire period if we can.
This space, some 2.5 metres by 2.5 metres, contains shrubs, perennials, bulbs and annuals and the planting is quite dense: the perennials, certainly, will have to be divided in a few years. You could easily adapt the plan to a longer but shallower border, or even reduce it, leaving out some of the suggested plants.
Each block of ‘flowers’ has 3 plants: the ‘framework’ plants consist of just one plant each: the fillers are as many as you like!
Focus and Framework
Because the space is limited, I have not included a Focus, but Framework plants are taken care of in the shape of an early-flowering Skimmia and a rose, Rosa ‘Scarborough Fair, which has soft pink, semi double flowers in the summer and hips during the autumn. Skimmia do best in neutral to slightly acid soil, so if your soil is verging on the alkaline, you may need to give your Skimmia a mulch of ericaceous compost in spring and autumn to keep the pH level down.
It was difficult to choose plants for this design, simply because there were more that I really wanted to include, but given the space restriction, I had to be quite ruthless in my choice. Of paramount importance was the fact that they had to be bee-friendly, then I had to choose a succession of flowering times, and only then could I select my favourites: needless to say I had to leave out more than I put in!
Spring-flowering bulbs such as Crocus are good choices for Fillers, as are Allium later in the spring and early summer. Also include some annuals such as Cosmos to supplement the perennials.
If you were thinking about planting up a new border, or re-vamping an old one, I hope this post has given you a bit of inspiration.
For lots more ideas, have a look at my book Plants and Planting Plans for a Bee Garden. (Click here to go to Amazon)