Bee Attracting Plants
Bee pollenating Muscari armeniacum – © GAP Photos
Attracting bees to your cottage garden is a great way to help the environment. Luckily, bees are often drawn to colourful, fragrant blooms. Try planting dusky lavenders, the rich blue vipers bugloss, red and pink Buddleia. Or else the lushly scented summer herbs, mint, rosemary, thyme. Succulents and climbing plants are also useful, as certain species of bee love honeysuckle and other deeper belled flowers. If you have room, crab apple and cherry trees are another wonderful source of food.
Create a Home for Bees
Welcome all bees and butterflies sign. Habitat for encouraging insects into the garden – © Tim Gainey/GAP Photos
Most of us are aware of hive dwelling bees, however there are over 240 species of ‘solitary’ wild bees. They make individual nests in little holes for their young, and sometimes form colonies. These bees don’t produce honey, but they do collect nectar and pollinate our plants. Providing a ‘Bee Hotel’ where individual bees can live helps protect them from the elements and predators. It’s also another easy and attractive way to encourage these useful creatures to live in your garden!
A colourful wildflower border grown from a packet of annual seed mix. Plants include Poppies, Cosmos, Cornflowers and Viper’s Bugloss – © Nicola Stocken/GAP Photos
Wildflowers like majoram are utterly beautiful, and ideal for a naturalised cottage garden. Keeping an ‘uncultivated’ area in your garden can also be beneficial for bees and butterflies. Wildflowers have declined at a dramatic rate – a potential factor in the decline of bees.
You can source seeds from a specialist, or buy turf ‘mats’ implanted with wildflowers. Collecting seeds from the wild isn’t necessarily a good idea. Consider how abundant that plant is before harvesting! The flowers can thrive in containers if you are renting, and will attract all manner of pollinators.
Nectar Rich Container Gardens
Wrought iron stand with pots of succulents and herbs. Wooden barrel by pots of box and heuchera. On right, Hosta ‘Big Daddy’, Hydrangea paniculatum ‘Phantom’ and Eucalyptus pauciflora subsp. niphofila – © Nicola Stocken/GAP Photos
Container gardens are a neat way to contain exuberant plants (as anyone who’s ever had mint take over their garden will tell you!). They are also a great way to create ‘mini gardens’; clusters of herbs, vegetables or in this case, nectar rich plants designed to appeal to bees. The best way to go is to combine herbs, flowers and succulents. To fit with the cottage garden aesthetic, go with repurposed containers. Try an old metal watering can, a vintage box, even a pretty basket will look gorgeous.
There’s a tutorial on creating your own nectar rich garden here.
Embrace the Weeds
Freshly harvested vegetables and herbs: Courgette, chamomile, chive, lavender, feverfew, nasturtium, parsley, thyme and sage – © Nicola Stocken/GAP Photos
Daisies and buttercups look incredible in a cottage garden; they have a sweet, nostalgic feel. Yet traditionally, these ‘weeds’ have been a thing to attack and remove. They are strong and will crowd out other plants, so it is worth keeping an eye on them; but eradication needn’t be your goal.
A gentler way is to look on ‘weeds’ as colourful, hardy, and sometimes tasty plants that require very little maintenance. Dandelions, often the gardener’s nemesis, are actually so useful that many gardeners have actually begun cultivating them. Bees, butterflies and sparrows all feast on the plant – and so can we; the leaves make a surprisingly tasty salad.
Helen Gallagher is an eco friendly gardener with a passion for colour and natural gardening. She has an English and Creative Writing degree and has written about creating low maintenance and futuristic gardens.
Colourfence Product -
Colourfence, sustainable and recyclable metal fencing with a 25 year guarantee.
Tel: 0800 6444 113