Plant of the Month: August 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 #bumblebee and more than 250 species of solitary bee, there are many #worthingbees that can be encouraged into your garden if you choose your #plants carefully.

The Royal Horticultural Society has helped us look beyond summer favourites such as lavender and borage. Longer autumns and milder winters mean that 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, August’s plant is Field scabious (Knautia arvensis).

This clump-forming herbaceous perennial is visited by a range of bees. Gently swaying lilac flowerheads provide forage for both the small scabious mining bee (Andrena marginata) and large scabious mining bee (A. hattorfianna) from summer into autumn.

Though widely distributed, A. hattorfiana is restricted to the south of the UK and, where present, both species are uncommon and generally only found in small numbers. Other bees more often spotted visiting field scabious are the red-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidaries), a short tongued bumblebee that can readily access these flowers, and honey bees.

Others to try include:
• Greater knapweed (Centaurea scabiosa) – British native perennial tolerant of dry, alkaline soils.
• Globe thistles (Echinops) – perennial best on well-drained poor soil in sun or light shade.
• Catmint (Nepeta) – likes a free-draining site in full sun or part shade.
• Fuchsia – tender to hardy shrubs that do well in sun or part shade, pots or most soils.
• Wild carrot (Daucus carota) – best in poor, well-drained, ideally chalky soil.