A beautiful, relaxed Sunday afternoon. The weather has been mild for this time of the year. Although i believe that each season has its charm, i am always glad to see the first signs of spring in our garden. Day length is increasing which is something i look forward too.
This time of the year is a good time to sow seeds and i have been quite busy. The seeds i sow are all seeds i harvested myself in the garden or bought from The Royal Dutch Society for Natural History (KNNV), grown organically. The numerous winter aconites i planted last year are flowering, offering early nectar and pollen for bees that emerge from hibernation. Together with crocus and snowdrops, they are among the earliest flowers in my garden.
Apart from growing plants for bees, i am also trying to grow some vegetables this year: beans and tomatoes are the first plants i have sowed this year. Photo above: young beans and tomatoes.
Below: white bryony provides both pollen and nectar until late summer, beginning of autumn. With our autumns becoming warmer, it is essential not only to provide flowers for bees in spring but also in late summer and autumn. With a bit of luck, i might see the Bryony Bee Andrena florea.
Above: Catmint is a lovely native plant with a strong scent, a good nectar plant for all kinds of pollinators.
Photo below: self heal and cross wort. I don’t know if cross wort is a good bee plant but let’s give it a try. Their flowers have a lovely scent though and members of the bedstraw family are important for wildlife.
After the snowdrops, crocus and winter aconites are gone, lungworts will appear which are loved by bumblebees. In my garden i try to grow a large variety of flowers as i believe that offering a large selection of flowers will benefit our pollinators. Pollen quality differs per plant species. It is estimated that bees fed on pollen of corn alone will live between 29-30 days whereas pollen of willow such as goat willow enable bees to live for 46 days. This also explains why mono cultures are not the best we can offer our bees and which is why permaculture is much more interesting.
Below: the beautiful and rare rampion bellflower provides both pollen and nectar for all kinds of pollinators; dark mullein is predominantly providing essential pollen.
Above: one of our most beloved wildflowers: cornflowers. They are excellent plants providing lots of pollen and nectar. They are top bee plants. Going to plant many more!. They grow well with corn marigold:
I will gradually add more posts and pictures when flowers are appearing and tell a bit about their value for wildlife. Apart from that, flowers do lighten up our hearts simply by being so beautiful. Yesterday, the air was heavy with the scent of honey from the abundance of crocuses. What a joy after a long Winter!.
Photo above: Hoary plantain, providing pollen is a lovely plant becoming very rare in the Netherlands. Their flowers have a sweet scent.
Above: some of the very best plants for bees and butterflies: marjoram and wild mignonette. When in flower i had loads of red-tailed bumblebees foraging on wild mignonette.
Crocus provide good quality pollen and nectar. They are important for our bees when they emerge from hibernation.
Another important and great plant for bees: winter aconites. If conditions are right, you will see more and more of them each year!.
In a month time, my goat willows will start to flower. Albeit very young, i cannot wait to see them in flower: i have no idea whether they are female (nectar) or male (pollen). I have 3 in my garden so hopefully both sexes are available.