Tag Archives: Buddleia davidii

Too Cold To Be Outside

A Good Time For Planning: Flowers For Pollinators I

Snow came down two days ago accumulating just three inches.  Today the garden is still covered with snow and the temperature dropped down to just above 10°F.  It’s a perfect winter day for bird watching through the patio door.  Since the ground is covered with snow and the sources of water around here have turned to ice, they congregate around our feeders and heated birdbaths.  It’s also a good day to start planning for the next growing season.

The plant catalogs have been piling up. I have picked out a couple of new vegetables I want to try and am now looking for flowers that bees and butterflies will like. A new Cosmos ‘Cupcake’ looks very tempting. I have already put 200 crocus in this autumn. If they haven’t all been dug up by the squirrels and chipmunks they should blossom when spring arrives.  Any new plants I choose I make sure will benefit all pollinators, not just honeybees.  If I have to pick and choose however, flowers for the bees will come first.

Here are some plants that work for our pollinator garden and I start with flowers:

Alyssum comes in white, pink and purple. It blooms until frost and has honey scent
Alyssum comes in white, pink and purple. It blooms until frost and has a honey scent.  It’s great for ground cover too.  The white variety self sows very well
Honeybee seems to like this Aster more than the lavender color
Honeybees seem to like this Aster more than the lavender color.  It’s a good late season food source for pollinators.
Summersweet
Summersweet has a perfect name; its fragrance is really sweet. I grow both the pink and white varieties. But it can be a problem in the garden as it produces a lot of suckers.
Sunflower is also everyone favorite, birds included.
Sunflower is also everyone’s favorite, birds included. I was able to grow sunflowers again last year after I put the deer net up.  Prior to last year, all flowers, in fact everything, became deer food.  Sunflowers are fun to grow as there are many colors and different heights to choose from.  The Maximillian’s sunflower below will also brighten up late summer in the garden
Maximillian's sunflower 'Santa Fe' is a perennial that can grow over 6 feet tall and produce plenty of flowers on each stem
Maximillian’s sunflower ‘Santa Fe’ is a perennial that can grow over 6 feet tall and produce plenty of flowers on each stem.
Echinacea is a must for pollinators garden
Echinacea is a must for a pollinators garden.  There are a variety of colors to choose from: pink, white, yellow, orange.  The native purple (dark pink actually) readily self sows.  I propagate other colors by digging them up and separating them after a couple of years.
Butterfly Bush
Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)has a strong fragrance and easily self sows.  I pick off spent flowers before they set seeds which encourages the plant to produce more flowers and no seedlings that I will have to pull next season.
This iris is a re-blooming variety
This iris is a re-blooming variety and fragrant.  I planted more bearded iris last autumn and look forward to seeing them bloom this spring.
Water Jasmine
Water Jasmine is a tropical flower with a mild, soothing fragrance.  In it’s native tropics, it’ll bloom year round but in a cold climate it blooms heavily in summer.  Bees and moths love it. The honeybee in the photo above is covered with hollyhock pollen .

These are just some of the flowers I managed to photograph with honeybees on them.  There are many more flowers that they like- crocus, snowdrop, Black-eyed Susan.  Next post will be on herbs and vegetables that I allow to flower, both as a pollinators food source and as the next season’s seeds.

 

 

 

Flowers For Bees (Continued)

Summer Flowers

Summer flowers in our garden are easy to grow and most of them are drought tolerant.  Having a full time job I have to be practical about what I plant in the garden.  I water the vegetable garden regularly since most of the vegetables don’t do well without constant care.  The opposite goes for the rest of the garden.  Most of them are doing fine being left alone.  I weed, prune and feed them when I have time.

So, summer flowers for bees are the ones that will bloom even when neglected.  Here’s some of what I grow..

This lady goes from flower to flower, non-stop
This lady goes from flower to flower, non-stop

Black-eyed susan ‘Gold Sturm’ (Rudbeckia fulgida var sullivantii ‘Gold sturm’) helps brighten up the garden even when everything else wilts.  Bees and butterflies love them.  The seed buds become finch food. It is also much more compact and mildew resistant than other varieties.

I need air traffic control on the Butterfly bush
I need air traffic control on the Butterfly bush

Butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) lives up to its name; it draws butterflies in like moths to a light.  It has a lovely sweet fragrance.  The down side is that it’s very invasive if you let the flowers set seeds.

Honey bee and bumblebee sharing nectar on an Echinacea
Honey bee and bumblebee sharing nectar on an Echinacea

I should have classified Echinacea under herbs since it has herbal properties.  This one is a native that will grow wherever the seeds drop.  The birds also like the seeds.

A good day for this honey bee since no wasps are not around yet
A good day for this honey bee since no wasps are not around yet

Well, a lot of people see this Goldenrod (Solidago) as a weed but I found the bright yellow flowers really beautiful.  It can take care of itself even along side the road where nothing else would grow.

Summersweet ranks right up there with the Butterfly bush
Summersweet ranks right up there with the Butterfly bush

Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) is another flower that lives up to its name.  The fragrance is sweet to the point of intoxication when enough of them bloom at the same time.  The white one above is called ‘Vanilla spice’ the pink one below is ‘ Ruby spice’.

Here, they're sharing again.
Here, they’re sharing again.
She goes from flower to flower
She goes from flower to flower

I grouped a variety of zinnia together this year and they came out really nice.  I also planted them where they can get full sun all day long.  That helps the flowers to stay longer and suffer far less mildew on the leaves.

Flowers For Bees in Late Summer

Still A Lot More

Autumn will be here in a week; September 22nd is the first day to be exact.  I don’t really go by the date when I think of autumn.  I depend on the temperature and plants in the garden to tell me that fall is coming.  The same goes for spring when I’m prompted to start sowing seeds by the sprouting of weeds.

I know I have a few flowers that bloom until the first frost, but haven’t been concerned until this year when I acquired honey bees.  I want to make sure that they have enough natural food to last the winter.   The temperature has been down below 50F in the last couple of nights, but has gone up between 70F and 80F during the day.  The honey bees won’t come out foraging until the temperature is above 50F, but the resident Bumblebees have been very busy from early morning until last light.  There doesn’t seem to be any competition between them.  They seem to co-exist pretty well, unlike the wasps.

There are still plenty of flowers in the garden, Garden phlox, Coreopsis as well as herbs and vegetables flowers.   I let the Goldenrod (Solidago) grow and set seeds.  I know it is a weed but what constitutes a ‘weed’ anyway.  On the other side of the globe, Goldenrod is a cut flower and being sold in the market.  Farmers Markets in NYC also sell them.  I guess the phrase “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” still rings true.  I like them for the bright yellow flowers when there is not much else blooming, and for how much the insects and birds love them.  Our resident honey bees can also forage on them from mid-summer to fall.

Honey bee and wasp sharing the Goldenrod for a moment, before the bee was bullied out.

Clematis ‘Sweet Autumn’ (Clematis turniflora) really has a perfect name.  As soon as the temperature cools down, it starts to blossom.  It is a sign of autumn approaching.  They create a cluster of small white flowers so dense that they look like snow from afar and they are lightly but beautifully fragrant.  A plus side?  Bees love them.  A minus side?  It can grow to 30 feet in one season.  I cut everything down to a couple of feet off the main branch in spring; it grows right back on to our roof by the end of summer.

This bee has a lot of pollen to carry back, but still adding more to her load from Clematis ‘Sweet Autumn’.

Another autumn flower is Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’.  It’s great for full sun and dry areas, and it’s hard to kill.  As soon as the flower blossoms, the whole mop head will fill with all types of insects.  I’ve never really liked it much, but it came with the house so I keep it.  I keep dividing them and replanting them in an area that doesn’t need much care.  I may look for a different variety next year since I want to provide a variety of food for my resident bees in fall.

Taking nectar from Sedum

Abelia (Abelia grandiflora) is another staple for mid-summer to frost blooming.  This compact shrub with dark green leaves provides little white cluster flowers with a light fragrance.  I don’t have to do much aside from cutting some old stems off at the base in spring so it doesn’t get too crowded.  Mulching with compost once a year keeps it in good health.

No bees on this one, but Bumblebees and day-flying moths are frequent visitors on this Abelia.

I can’t leave this last one out, Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii).  This lovely shrub can be very invasive if I let the flowers set seeds.  But it makes up for the down side by providing a lot of beautiful and fragrant flowers.  They are still blooming in our garden in September, though less than a month or so ago, but still providing scent for the garden and food for the insects.

Honey bee taking nectar from a Butterfly bush. Notice the little, pink tongue.

Flowers For Bees – A Great Trade

Making Their Lives Easier

I know bees fly for many miles to collect nectar and pollen, but since they’ve entered our lives now, I’m hoping that I provide enough flowering plants for them to be happy closer to home.  I wouldn’t insist they just forage in our garden but at least I can encourage them to do so by providing them with flowers they like.  I’m not sure the bees are that particular, but I am providing them with wholly organic flowers to work.

Fragrant flowers make up most of our garden.  The runners-up are wild and native flowers.  Since I started to keep bees, I have been searching for plants that will provide nectar and pollen for them.  Surprisingly, a lot of plants and flowers we have in our garden already are suitable for bees.  I should have known since we have a lot of Bumblebees, Carpenter bees, Sweat bees and other insects that thrive on nectar.

One of the blogs I’ve been following has posted Favorite English Garden Bee Plants – Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) and provided a list of plants for bees from The Royal Horticultural Society which I find very helpful.  I can’t place all plants on their list from across the pond in our garden but I’m going to do my best to add more.  Another blogger and beekeeper on the other side of the Atlantic has also posted What’s flowering now: mid August 2012 regarding flowers for bees in late summer.  In response to the last line on her blog, here’s what’s still blooming in the garden on this side of the Atlantic, despite the heat, thunder storms and hail.  Our bees still have plenty to put in storage for the winter.

Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota). It’s a beautiful weed. I let it grow every year for its beauty and for foragers.
Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) ‘Vanilla Spice’. This is a great summer flower, highly fragrant and a butterfly and bee magnet.
Another Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) ‘Ruby Spice’.
Hanging on to a White Clover, another weed.
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet?
This bee seemed to agree with Shakespeare since she has been working on this William Shakespeare rose for a while. Highly fragrant and a re-bloomer.
Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii), another butterfly and bee magnet. Highly fragrant, fast grower and very invasive if you let it set seed. But, it’s worth growing if you want to have butterflies in your garden.
Echinacea ‘White Swan’, one of many Echinacea in the garden. Not exactly in focus but I didn’t want to miss a chance to capture their co-existance by stopping to set a shutter speed.