Lately I’ve spent as much time as weather and life permit in the garden, tidying up, observing and then planning for the coming season. I am hoping that the physical work and the daydreaming will fend off the often inevitable winter blues that seem to come my way as the days shorten. As I do my tidy up I think of the different things I want to do in the garden based on what I observed from this season past. This summer was an exercise in understanding how a hot summer impacts the garden. I naturally made a list of what I noticed and what I need to do. Weirdly all the things on my list are things that make a garden a more pollinator friendly space.
Flowering all season long
Over the summer I noticed more gaps in the flowering of bee friendly plants, largely I suspect due to the heat which resulted in shorter flowering periods than in past years. One of the aims for a pollination garden is to have a continuous succession of blooms, so as I tidy each bed I am thinking about what I have and what I need to add to ensure there is more continuous flowering in the garden for a longer period of time. Ideally I would love to have something flowering that offers nectar or pollen or both, starting from late winter through to late autumn.
I want to change who I plant or rather how many I plant. I freely admit to being a curious planter (not a bad things) and have one of something here and there. While I have found that it has been a valuable exercise in understanding what works well in different areas of the garden I think the time has come to try and create a more cohesive look to the garden and explore mass planting. Given the space I have I am looking at around 3 to 5 plants of any one thing. Planting this way is very beneficial for the bees. Bees when foraging will mainly focus on one type of plant at a time, so having many of the same thing in one spot generally makes life easier for your bee friends.
Healing the garden
I am adding lots of pea straw as a ‘I am sorry’ to my garden. I was rather neglectful of this when it came to giving back to the garden last season and I can definitely feel that is had an impact over the summer. I am sure if I had kept up the compost and pea straw supply to the garden it would have been slightly less dry as the hot summer unfolded. Hopefully this season by being kinder to the soil it will mean happier healthier plants in the coming season.
Reducing the lawn
I’m also slowly expanding the flower beds and taking up more lawn. I would love to go crazy and remove it all but I need to factor in the dream of moving. When and how this will happen is yet to be determined and until it does I need to get my gardening fix and the bees need food. Knowing this I am expanding the flower beds by about 30 to 40 cms, enough to give me some room to play with but also not going crazy. I figure quietly nibbling away at the lawn is the best approach. The bed that I expanded over the weekend already feels like is has more room to breath.
Factoring in all I have outlined above I started working on a bed where I have tried to create a colour combination I love, fresh green leave and a delicious pink. A quick audit of the flower bed I realised I had hollyhocks, rosemary, thyme, salvias, scarbiosa and dahlias as well as some stunning lillies and peonies. Mentally in my head I think of when these will all flower and I noticed there are few gaps so my plan is:
Add hellebores for early spring/ end of winter flowers which are a good source of pollen for bees.
I moved two pink rosemary plants from the edge of the bed to the centre of the bed. I left a gap between the two shrubs were I want to add the delicious pink single bloom dahlias I have growing in a different bed.
The dahlias that are already in the bed run along a path we walk along often, so I want to dig them up and move them to a different part of the flower bed, as I have found these poor dahlias tend to get a battered and bruised located in there current space.
I ear mark the bright pink larkspur I’ve grown from seed to fill gaps and will add in the spring more pink scarbiosa and pink cosmos. The evening light where the bed is located is magical for photos and I am sure cosmos will look wonderful in this light.
I will add some more creeping thyme. It loves this space in the garden and I love how it weaves it’s way around, providing great ground cover.
Will also add some more hollyhocks. These are also great providers of pollen for bees and I do like the dramatic contrast that they will provide.
I added the hellebores to the garden and the rest on the list I will do in the spring. It feels good to have a plan and I can’t wait to see it in the summer filled with the beauty and life. My aim is to share the progress of this bed as the season unfolds so you can see and learn what flowers when and build up your own knowledge of bee friendly plants.
I’ve been a fan of the Sage journal newsletter for a while now so I was super excited to see that Emma has created a seasonal based how to grow series, filled with tips, tricks, how to’s and discounts. It will be a knowlegable and visual feast. The Winter Gardening Series is the first chapter which will start in June. Emma has generously offered readers of this newsletter a discount of $5 using the code TPG5. Sign up here.
Your photos are so dreamy! I love how you edit them! I'm also gardening when I can...heat is coming on fast here in Texas. I'm so far behind!