Bee heaven from dawn to dusk, February to November the garden buzzes with solitary bees feeding on pulmonaria, honey bees on the heuchera and bumbles on the cirsius. Nearly 100 plants of different varieties and species provide nectar to flying creatures from butterflies, to hoverflies to bees to moths to damselflies and more.
Hellbores and primroses, dwarf irises and crocii, the year starts in shelter but then explodes into colour. The pond ‘meadow’ teems with creatures flying and feeding on a mix of wild flowers, field flowers and hardy species – hollyhocks, corncockles, clover, stachys, red campion too and cranesbill geraniums in shades of pink and blue, herb Robert, ox eye daisies, pulmonaria, symphitum in cream and lemon, vetch and valerian. Bugle and chieranthes cheiri, lathyrus latifolus creeping through the plants and up the plants. Teasels to provide seeds for birds in winter too grow there each. Not random but then not manicured, the plants spread and intertwine and find their own niches and flourish. Valerian scents the air with vanilla.
Grasses too shake their heads and wild white geraniums line the woodland path – though the woodland is yet very young for the garden is just 5 summers old but native trees such as elder bloom there for the insects.
Scents abound as the roses bloom. Over the pergola and in the beds – Rhapsody in Blue for our blue bed, Ferdinand Pichard in the pink. And the Scleroderma rose for our daughter. Each rose on the pergola has its accompanying clematis – in truth over 40 clematis bloom through the year – winter months too as the cirrhosas flower from November to February offering nectar to the early risers
– the bumbles who flit from flower to flower and the solitary bee with long proboscis who loves the pulmonaria and buries her nose deep. And the holly flowers just in time for the holly blue butterfly to drink and flourish.
Even now as the summer wanes the deep blue buddleias and verbena bonariensis provide nectar for the butterflies as they wander about. Still the linaria flowers and roses too. The anemones start to flower and the clerodendron and the penstemons still provide pink and blue cups to suck at. Hardy geraniums flower again and the wild chrysanthemums bloom. Heuchera , the old fashioned type, London Pride and Coral Bells flower again and again. Still there is pollen aplenty. Autumn bulbs start to blossom – the autumn crocus and red bessara elegance and polyanthus tuberose, the last of the lathyrus flowers and the autumn flowering sedum – they provide the last of the pollen for the bees still buzzing in the lazy sunshine before they hibernate in the warm nests or walls or even flower baskets left in the borders. The untidy end of the garden and the wildlife hotel give places for insects to keep snug over the winter to come.
We welcome the pollinators and provide them food and shelter and safe harbour away from pesticides and the honey bees give their honey to someone else – we don’t have hives! Just food and water and shelter all through the year. And the Almanac says that this week the Queens begin killing the drones to save the food for themselves for the winter.