Plant of the Month: April 23

This year we are asking our followers to ensure their gardens can help bee populations thrive – encouraging both diverse plant life and a variety of bee species to visit. With 25 species of bumblebees and more than 250 species of solitary bees, there are many worthing bees that can be encouraged into your garden if you choose your plants carefully.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has helped us look beyond summer favourites such as lavender and borage. Longer autumns and milder winters mean bees such as the buff-tailed bumblebee can be active all year round. They need garden plants to help them through.

So, without further ado, April’s plant is Apples (Malus).

Apple trees (both flowering and ornamental) produce spring blossoms in abundance. The open white or pink flowers are usually single, measuring 3-5cm and attracting a wide range of pollinators. The widespread red mason bee (Osmia bicornis) is a particularly frequent visitor and a valuable orchard pollinator.

The reddish-coloured hairs of these 1cm-long solitary bees help with identification, but because they collect pollen in a brush on their abdomen they often look more yellow than red. Mason bees nest in crumbling masonry and holes in bricks, and readily use bee hotels

Others to try include:
• Fiddleneck (Phacelia tanacetifolia) – an annual that flowers in a sunny position in spring from an autumn sowing.
• Granny’s bonnet (Aquilegia) – a perennial for sun or part shade where the soil doesn’t dry out in summer.
• Bugle (Ajuga reptans) – a ground-covering plant that needs shade.
• Wood spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides) – enjoys light shade and soil improved with organic matter.
• Berberis – an easy-to-grow shrub best in full sun.
• Cherry (Prunus avium) – grows in most soils in a sunny, open spot.