Category Archives: Style notebook

These Flowers Bring all the Bees to My Yard

We tend to associate pollinators with the heady days of summer and vibrant blooms, but in fact many species of bees actively forage for food all year round, even in winter when pollen and nectar sources are particularly scarce. Bees and other pollinators are key to productive gardens, and many plants rely on them for pollination. If we didn’t have bees, we would be without many of the fruit and vegetables we take for granted.

As we approach spring, ravenous queen bees will be looking for substance so they can produce the next generation of worker bees. As these hardworking insects keep the food on our plates, why not return the favour and make sure you have a range of pollinator-friendly plants to keep your local bees happy throughout the year. Below we have highlighted five plants loved by bees, which give beautiful blooms and come into flower early in the year.

Galanthus nivalis - snowdrops - © GAP Photos/Christina Bollen

Galanthus nivalis – snowdrops – © GAP Photos/Christina Bollen

Galanthus nivalis – Snowdrop
Snowdrops are best planted in partial shade, so do well under deciduous trees. Plant snowdrop bulbs in the autumn or ‘in the green’ when they have finished flowering.

Crocus sieberi subsp. sublimis 'Tricolor' AGM - © GAP Photos/J S Sira

Crocus sieberi subsp. sublimis ‘Tricolor’ AGM – © GAP Photos/J S Sira

Crocus sieberi subsp. sublimis ‘Tricolor’
Crocus also come into flower particularly early, usually when the rest of your garden plants are still in winter slumber. The beautiful buds will lift the spirits in late winter, opening to offer plenty of food to passing bees. Mass plant the bulbs in drifts in sunny locations.

Ribes sanguineum 'Pulborough Scarlet' - © GAP Photos/Rob Whitworth

Ribes sanguineum ‘Pulborough Scarlet’ – © GAP Photos/Rob Whitworth

Ribes sanguineum
This flowering currant is particularly ornamental and the rich pink flowers appear in spring. Fantastic as a feature plant in a border, but can also be used as a hedging plant.

Erica carnea 'Pink Spangles' and Erica carnea 'White Glow' - © GAP Photos/Pernilla Bergdahl

Erica carnea ‘Pink Spangles’ and Erica carnea ‘White Glow’ – © GAP Photos/Pernilla Bergdahl

Erica carnea – Heather
Another winter-flowerer, these pretty perennials give the added bonus of being evergreen too. As with all heathers, it prefers acidic soil, so use ericaceous compost if you’re soil leans more alkaline.

Hyacinthoides non-scripta - Bluebells - ©  GAP Photos/J S Sira

Hyacinthoides non-scripta – Bluebells – © GAP Photos/J S Sira

Hyacinthoides non-Scripta – Bluebell
Bluebells are perfect for woodland gardens, or giving the traditional country cottage feel to a border. They prefer semi-shade and moist soil. It is easiest to plant the bulbs in autumn or in late winter/early spring, as long as the soil is workable.

The Wonders of Yellow

From the palest lemon to the deepest gold, the sunniest colour on the colour spectrum is yellow and it breathes life into the garden as the dark and coldness of winter gives way to spring. It is no surprise that so many spring flowers fall into this colour group, as lighter colours stand out to the few early pollinators that are around. Why not create a yellow themed border in your garden with some of the shrubs and perennials below?

Narcissus 'Minnow' © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

Narcissus ‘Minnow’ © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

1. Narcissus ‘Minnow’ – Daffodil ‘Minnow’
A dainty two-tone daffodil with multiple flowerheads on each stem. This is also a dwarf variety which looks fantastic in pots.

Eranthis hyemalis © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

Eranthis hyemalis © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

2. Eranthis hyemalis – Winter aconite
Aconites start flowering in late winter, giving one of the earliest signs that spring is on its way. They provide cheerful colour along a border edge and sparkle when mass planted under deciduous trees and shrubs.

Crocus 'Fuscotinctus'  © GAP Photos/John Glover

Crocus ‘Fuscotinctus’ © GAP Photos/John Glover

3. Crocus chrysanthus var. fuscotinctus
Another early flowering plant, appearing in February and March and flowering a deep, glowing golden with fabulous purple markings.

Primula vulgaris © GAP Photos/Joanna Kossak

Primula vulgaris © GAP Photos/Joanna Kossak

4. Primula vulgaris – Wild Primrose
Available widely, this native primrose provides delicate pale, yellow flowers which stand out against their emerald leaves. Perfect in a woodland garden.

Primula veris - Cowslip © GAP Photos/Juliette Wade

Primula veris – Cowslip © GAP Photos/Juliette Wade

5. Primula veris – Common Cowslip
Another native Primula, which naturalises well and looks good in a meadow-style border.

Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca 'Citrina'. Bastard senna © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca ‘Citrina’. Bastard senna © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

6. Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca ‘Citrina’. Bastard senna
A fantastic evergreen shrub, with interesting blue-green foliage and pretty pea-like flowers. It is scented, grows well in containers and can be trained against a wall.

Forsythia 'Lynwood' underplanted Viola cornuta 'Etain' in white pot - © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

Forsythia ‘Lynwood’ underplanted Viola cornuta ‘Etain’ in white pot – © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

7. Forsythia ×  intermedia ‘Lynwood Variety’
A brilliantly versatile shrub which can be used as a feature plant and as a deciduous hedge. The vibrant yellow flowers appear before the foliage from February to April.

Erythronium 'Pagoda' - dog's tooth violet - © GAP Photos/Joanna Kossak

Erythronium ‘Pagoda’ – dog’s tooth violet – © GAP Photos/Joanna Kossak

8. Erythronium ‘Pagoda’ – Dog’s Tooth Violet
The sweet, nodding and intensely yellow flowers make this shade tolerant perennial a winner. Plant in moisture retentive borders. The flowers, that appear March to April, are set off by its smooth bright green leaves.

Tulipa sylvestris - © GAP Photos/Christina Bollen

Tulipa sylvestris – © GAP Photos/Christina Bollen

9. Tulipa sylvestris – wild tulip
A good tulip for naturalising. The cheerful yellow flowers of this native bulbous perennial will light up areas under trees.

Helleborus x hybridus 'Yellow with Red Spots' - © GAP Photos/Howard Rice

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Yellow with Red Spots’ – © GAP Photos/Howard Rice

10. Helleborus x hybridus ‘Yellow with Red Spots’
Hellebores come in so many colours, but the pale yellow colour of this hybrid’s flowers really set off the red markings.

Vibrant Bouquet

A step by step guide for making a vibrant bouquet.

Beginning the construction of the vibrant bouquet with Crataegus monogyna, Dahlia 'Labyrinth', Rosa 'Ambridge Rose', Rosebay willowherb seed pods and Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' - © GAP Photos

Beginning the construction of the vibrant bouquet with Crataegus monogyna, Dahlia ‘Labyrinth’, Rosa ‘Ambridge Rose’, Rosebay willowherb seed pods and Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ – © GAP Photos

To create the bouquet the following flowers have been used Wood sage, Euonymus europaeus, Rosa ‘Ambridge Rose’, Dahlia ‘Labyrinth’, Rosebay willowherb seed pods, Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’, Atriplex hortensis ‘Rubra’, Rubus fruticosus, Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Purity’, Panicum elegans ‘Frosted Explosion’, Crataegus monogyna and Eschscholzia californica ‘Peach Sorbet’

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