Archive for August 11th, 2010

Bee on agastache

In the past week or two, the hydrangea bush has been a huge draw for bees and other pollinators. That’s not to say, however, that the pollinators aren’t visiting the rest of the garden. With the exception of daylilies, which I grow for their beautiful faces, I try to keep the birds and the bees in mind when choosing garden plants.

Bee on coneflower

It’s really the least one can do for them, considering what a heavy toll we take on their natural environment, one way and another.

Bee on astilbe

Pictured here are just a few of the garden flowers that attract bees and other pollinators.

Black swallowtail on monarda

Plants such as coreopsis and sunflowers and native grasses provide birds with a seed crop as well.

Bee on coreopsis

A selection of native plants is great, but I also have some non-natives that are very popular. By far the most bee-loved plant in the garden is Dark Mullein (verbascum nigrum). It is the European cousin of our native mullein. This biennial is short-lived, but seeds itself freely. In the spring, I noticed several large rosettes sprouting in a bare patch where I planted annuals last year.

The large leaves are rather weedy and course, but the rosettes expand at an amazing rate. I enjoyed watching the plants as they put out tall, stately flower stalks.

Each individual flower is quite small, but very colourful, with bright yellow petals setting off wine-pink centres and stamens. Once the flower stalks reach their blooming peak, they have a powerful presence in the garden.

At their peak, the flower stalks are hugely attractive to pollinators, especially bumblebees, who gather in large numbers each morning to collect the day’s bounty of nectar. No doubt, if they could vote, the bees would award Dark Mullein their “Pollinator’s Favorite” award. It is also pretty popular with the gardener.

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