Saturday, June 29, 2019

5 More Bee-Friendly Perennials for Your Garden

These will also thrive just about anywhere.

bee on blossom

Trudie Styler – actress, producer and director – is quoted as saying, “I have a huge belief in the importance of bees, not just for their honey, which is a healing and delicious food, but the necessity of bee colonies that are vital to the health of the planet.” Quite so.

Why bees? 

Well, because they are essential in the web of life. How could we live without them? They contribute to the well-being of so many living things by going about their beesness of pollinating.
Did you know that there are over 4000 species of native bees in the United States? The honeybee – perhaps the first that comes to mind – isn’t even native to our continent, but was introduced. There are so many others that are less well-known, but no less worthy.

Bees need help.

In a previous article, I noted that bees are at a disadvantage. Loss of habitat, mites, pesticides, wax moths, and colony collapse disorder afflict them. They could use our help.
We can help in various ways. I listed several before. One of the easiest is to plant their favorite flowers.

Bees need flowers!

Flowers provide what bees need to live. They’re not particularly picky, but seem to prefer some flowers more than others, especially those that provide lots of pollen and nectar. I listed five of their favorites in my last article. Here are five more.
ajuga burgundy glowAjugaalso known as Bugleweed, Carpenter's Herb, Sicklewort, or Middle Comfrey – is native mostly to Europe, Asia and Africa. It’s a low-growing ground cover that flowers in early spring with short flower spikes in various shades of blue. Its foliage attracts the eye even when the plant is not in bloom. The dense mat suppresses weeds, so we like it in borders and as a lawn substitute. It grows well in zones 3-9.
CreepingPhlox – known as Thrift, Creeping Phlox, Moss Phlox – is superb as a ground cover in perennial gardens and borders, rock and alpine gardens. Of course, it is bee- and butterfly friendly. Plant it beside terraces and between stepping stones for eye-popping color in spring. Colors include blue, pink, lavender, white, red and striped. Creeping Phlox is right at home anywhere in climate zones 3-9.
dendanthrema sheffield pinkDendranthema – familiarly known as “hardy garden mum” – is a bright-flowered plant with blossoms shaped like large daisies. Colors vary, but my favorite shade is pink. It’s what you might expect to see in an English cottage garden, or around your great aunt’s back door. Maintenance is minimal. It blooms in late summer or fall. Dendranthema thrives in USDA climate zones 5-9.
Dianthus (Cheddar Pinks) flowers look like little carnations, and smell like them, too. These low-growing, clump forming perennials bloom spring through summer. Evergreen, blue-green linear foliage is attractive even when the plant is not in bloom. They’re quite easy to grow. Dianthus performs well in climate zones 3-9.
sedum flowerSedum (Stonecrop) attracts bees and butterflies, to the surprise of some. Maybe they’re overlooked because sedum grows so close to the ground. At any rate, sedum should be included in your pollinator-friendly collection. Sedum is a remarkable ground cover that fills cracks and crevices in rock gardens, and spills out of containers. It grows in the most surprising places. It’ll thrive in USDA climate zones 3-9.

Don’t fear the bee.

Fear of bees is called melissophobia. (It sounds like a disease from a pharmaceutical company or tort attorney’s ad.) Fact is, though, you’re probably not so much afraid of bees as you are of bee stings. But, take my word for it; bees are not interested in you. They only sting in self-defense or to protect their homes. If you leave them alone, they’d rather leave you alone.
By intentionally planting a pollinator-friendly garden, you’ll not only be enhancing the beauty of your space, but promoting the well-being of nature, from the little creatures below to those that buzz above.
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