Category Archives: Garden

Gardens for Pollinators

Spring just around the corner (I hope). So it is time to start planning the garden. And with a new UK scientific paper out telling us that allotments and gardens supported the highest bee and hoverfly abundances, our own gardens are a great place to start helping our local pollinator populations.

If this is something you like doing I thought I could provide you with a list of Pollinator Friendly Plants. This list is based solely on what works in my garden. The garden is situated in Co Mayo, Ireland.  We have relatively mild climate but we do get frosts, and they can occur anything from late September till May. We have both native wildflower areas and cultivated areas with flowers and also a vegetable plot.

Best Garden Flowers and Herbs

White tailed bumble on lupin

Delphiniums – the bigger bumblebees,  like garden bumblebees love these.

Lupins – a number of different bumblebees will use them and I have also seen honey bees try (but I don’t think they were successful).

Russian Comfrey – these plants are always full of bumblebees.  Carders, early bumbles, love it. A number of hoverflies also feed on it especially Rhingia campestris. Another great positive about this species is it keep on flowering once it starts.

Poppies – I have pink, opium poppies that self seed in the vegetable plot. It appears to be a magnet for honey bees but white tailed bumbles and early bumblebees will use it to.

Snapdragon – again a favourite for carder bee.

Nasturtiums – these self seed in my vegetable plot. Again they will be used by a variety of bees.

Bumbles on sage

Bumbles on sage

Sage – a wonderful herb that is always buzzing in my garden. Appears to be particular favourite of common carder bees.

Oregano – grows both in the greenhouse and outside. The one in the greenhouse is always full of white tailed bumbles, the outside ones less so. The plant is probably happier and producing more nectar in the warmer greenhouse.

Calendula – hoverflies love this flower.

Fennel flowers – another favourite for hoverflies.

Borage – another great all rounder for bumblebees and honeybees.

Native Flowers and plants

Foxgloves – again suit the larger bees like garden bumblebees.

Ragged robin – this plant does well near the pond seems a particular favourite of green veined white butterfly.

Bumblebee on dandelion

Bumblebee on dandelion

Dandelion – a brilliant early pollen source.

Ox-eyed daisy – hoverflies and butterflies will both use this.

Willow – I have both native and cultivated willows. The catkins are really important for bumblebees queens emerging from hibernation early in the spring.

Fruit blossom – Again I have native and cultivated forms. Hoverflies seem to love blossom, but bumblebees and butterflies will feed on them to.

 

Interestingly in the scientific paper just published a number of these plants have also proved popular in the UK. The following nine native plants were found to have significantly more pollinator visitors than expected based on their abundance – Creeping thistle, Wood avens, Common hogweed, Cat’s ear, Ox-eye daisy, Creeping buttercup, bramble/blackberry, Autumn hawkbit and Dandelion. And the non-native top five were: Borage, Butterfly bush, Common marigold (Calendula), Lavender and Comfrey.

Further reading

A systems approach reveals urban pollinator hotspots and conservation opportunities

Katherine C. R. Baldock, Mark A. Goddard, Damien M. Hicks, William E. Kunin, Nadine Mitschunas, Helen Morse, Lynne M. Osgathorpe, Simon G. Potts, Kirsty M. Robertson, Anna V. Scott, Phillip P. A. Staniczenko, Graham N. Stone, Ian P. Vaughan & Jane Memmott

Nature Ecology & Evolution (2019) |

 

 

 

 

 

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Autumn fruit

We have had a great crop of apples this year but early autumn storms mean that we have also a lot of windfalls. We are using apples in everything ; apple and blackberry jam, apple crumble and cakes, apple puree/sauce, dried apples.  Last weekend, I was going to try and make plum (again windfalls) and apple jam, but the resulting puree was too nice, so we’ve just added a tiny bit of honey and are using fresh. It went really well with pancakes!

The storm also broken my favourite Victoria plum tree which always produced the nicest plus in the garden , so we will have to get replacement (Apologies for quality of photos, my camera is currently out of action so having to use my phone camera!).

Picton Castle Walled Garden

This week the Lens Artists Photo Challenge theme is Wonder.  P. A. Moed Creative Exploration In Words And Pictures invites us “to create a post that captures a moment, a feeling, a place, a person—which filled you with wonder.”

Walled garden Picton Castle

Walled garden Picton Castle

Last week, we were in Wales, and one of our days out involved a trip to Picton Castle, a 18th century stately home (that was a previously a medieval Castle) in Pembrokeshire. The highlight of the day was the magnificent walled gardens.  It is definitely a place to fill you with wonder on the amazing world of plants. The shapes, colours, textures of the flowers, from hot red to spikey blues and greys.

Ferns.

A herb garden and succulents.

The garden has only three full time staff members looking after it (and the rest of the grounds). And some volunteers. They do an amazing job.

Sculptures

This week’s Monthly Meet Up Photo Challenge is Sculpture. We were in Wales last week and had a lovely visit to Picton Castle in Pembrokeshire (more to follow during the week). Within the walled garden there was this lovely sculpture. The wings of the seed head catch the wind and it moves around.

Sculpture

Sculpture at Picton Caslte

There were some more lovely willow and wood structures in the adventure garden. Here is just a little taster.