Plant of the Month: May 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, May’s plant is the Nettle-leaved bellflower (Campanula trachelium).

This native herbaceous perennial, popular in garden borders, is a hit with specialist solitary bees. Its delicate, lavender-blue, bell-shaped flowers provide pollen, nectar and shelter for the bellflower blunthorn bee (Melitta heamorrhoidalis and small scissor bee (Chelostoma campanularum).

On overcast days look for either of these sheltering inside the flowers; small scissor bees also use the scented interiors as a mating venue. The bellflower blunthorn bee is most common in Southern England, though there are records from Wales, northern England and Scotland. The small scissor bee can be found in gardens of Southern and Central England.

Others to try include:
• Bird’s foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)
• Ceanothus
• Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
• Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus)