Plant of the Month: June 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, June’s plant is Lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina).

Reaching 50cm, the silvery flower spikes of lamb’s ears bear whorls of small purplish or pink flowers through late spring and summer. They’re attractive to many pollinators, especially bumblebees, while female wool carder bees (Anthidium manicatum) use the dense hairs on the oblong leaves to make nests.

The distinctive bee has a line of yellow spots along its abdomen. The larger males can be found patrolling territories around these plants. They’ll head-butt other flower visitors to drive them away including much larger bumblebees, while welcoming females.

Others to try include:
• Alium – in many sizes, best in lighter soils in full sun.
• Foxgloves (Digitalis) – short lived perennials that like rich soil in dappled shade.
• Thyme (Thymus) – evergreen sub-shrub needing full sun on alkaline to neutral soil.
• Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus agm) – tall perennials requiring shelter from strong winds
• Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus) – flowers and fruits best in a sheltered, sunny spot on free-draining soil.