A 12 months within the bee backyard – February

A 12 months within the bee backyard – February

Within the brief month of February there’s little exercise within the bee backyard, however there’s a lot to look at. Which early bulbs have emerged – the snowdrops and crocuses planted within the shade beside the ivy or these planted within the garden? Which crops are already arising new shoots – the crocosmia or daffodils? These seasonal observations inform me which sort of flowers develop nicely within the soil and which situations of sunshine, shade and shelter swimsuit them finest. 12 months after 12 months, I can make investments extra time within the flowers that thrive within the bee backyard and within the bees who go to them.

Planting a bee backyard – or a pollinator or wildlife backyard – could be very thrilling and there are various ‘crops for bees’ lists that publish at the moment of 12 months to present you loads of concepts. Nevertheless, planting any backyard that efficiently blooms and attracts all kinds of bugs and different wildlife shouldn’t be as straightforward because it sounds. There are necessary observations that have to be made.

1. What’s the soil like?

Once you decide up a handful of soil and squeeze it, is the feel clumpy and sticky (maybe like clay) or looser and gravelly (maybe like sand)? When it rains, does the soil drain slowly or rapidly? When it’s dry, does the soil harden and crack or retain its moisture?

You need not turn out to be an skilled in soil sorts, or rush out to get a pH equipment to check the acidity or alkalinity of your soil (though you’ll be able to if you wish to), however just a few easy observations like these will provide you with a greater concept of ​​what forms of crops will develop finest in your backyard. You will know, for instance, whenever you learn the plant label or seed packet whether or not your soil can present appropriate situations or not. February is usually month to make these observations because the climate can change from delicate and moist to chilly and dry from one week to the subsequent.

For those who suspect that you’ve got heavy, clay soil that drains poorly, then this doesn’t suggest you can’t develop a bee-pleaser like lavender which prefers lighter, well-draining soil. It simply signifies that you could have to dig over the mattress with loads of multi-purpose backyard compost or some horticultural sand, and/or add this to the opening wherein it’s planted [*See edit below]. Alternatively, plant the lavender in a raised mattress (comparable to constructing a brand new mattress at floor stage and filling it with extra appropriate soil), a container or a big pot.

Keep in mind to look at the soil in numerous components of your backyard, as a result of there could also be some variation.

*Lindylou provides a helpful remark under on taking care to not take away the fertility of clay soil by including amendments. This consists of including coconut coir or cardboard to heavy clay soil reasonably than sand, which can produce cement. She says each coconut coir or cardboard “permit air pocket to develop by engaging backyard earthworms which like to eat each merchandise”. As well as, she additionally makes use of lava grit “to take up the water that won’t sink throughout winter time”.

Like all issues, studying learn how to backyard is as a lot about trial and error. My lavender grew poorly the primary 12 months after I planted it within the clay soil of our backyard. It additionally did not have sufficient solar. So I moved it to the again of the backyard and blended the soil with backyard compost (and a really small quantity of builders’, not horticultural, sand!) and it appears to have perked up! I’ll attempt cardboard subsequent time as I’ve loads of that at residence.

2. How a lot solar and shade do you have got?

The center a part of our backyard is lengthy and slender with an ivy hedge to the correct and bushes of cotoneaster, jasmine and choisya to the left. I’ve resigned myself to the truth that few flowers will develop within the shady, walled mattress beside the ivy the place even foxgloves and bluebells battle. This a part of the backyard has turn out to be a haven for frogs and thirsty birds and bugs with a choice of frog ponds and shallow baths. I’ve additionally half buried damaged flower pots and crockery within the soil to make shelters for weary creatures to relaxation. The decking on the entrance of the backyard has a flowerbed that stands proud additional, and in spring and summer season it will get sufficient daylight within the morning to maintain the myrtle tree with flowers and berries. The again of the backyard could be very uncovered – a suntrap for sun-loving crops like toadflax, Mediterranean herbs, and, after all, sunflowers.

Observing how solar and shade fall throughout your backyard from season to season and at totally different occasions of the day can assist to plan the place to plant. As an illustration, there is no level in planting a row of sedum alongside a sunny fence in early spring solely to later discover out in autumn, when sedum flowers, that it will get little or no sunshine.

It is also a good suggestion to note which components of the backyard get shelter from wind and rain – helpful for those who’re planning on planting tall crops like sunflowers or buddleias, which can profit from some shelter, in addition to loads of solar, on a really windy day.

3. Who visits your backyard?

It is not all concerning the bees. Our backyard enjoys quite a lot of insect guests together with hoverflies, butterflies, lacewings, solitary wasps, ants and spiders (okay, arachnids too). There are lots of totally different bees who go to from honeybees and bumbles to leafcutters and masons. We have even had the occasional dragonfly, though they do not appear to put their larvae within the pond and are in all probability prowling for bees to eat. Observing which bugs are already in your space can assist you to decide on the flowers that appeal to them.

For instance, our toadflax caters for the carder bees from early summer season to late autumn. The honeybees and bumbles are glad by the smoke tree in spring, salvia and lemonbalm in summer season, and snowberry and sedum in autumn. The sweat bees are saved joyful by leaving the yellow thistles to flower in spring. Nevertheless, I hardly ever see leafcutters or masons foraging within the backyard, though they use our nesting tubes. Maybe I have to plant up extra areas for these solitary bees and depart extra dandelions for the masons.

4. What’s flowering in your space?

A stroll round your native space to see which crops are rising in your neighbors’ gardens generally is a good indicator of what is going to develop nicely in your backyard. 12 months after 12 months in winter, yellow primroses pop up in entrance gardens alongside our road and winter-flowering hebes produce wealthy purple-red blooms. There are such a lot of that I believe the birds and squirrels have been very busy gardening, though many people are good gardeners too.

5. How a lot time do it’s a must to spend in your backyard?

That is a very powerful remark of all. Earlier than you start planting a bee backyard, think about how a lot time you even have for weeding, pruning, mowing, watering, and transplanting all year long. If you do not have a lot time, then learn up on hardy crops and shrubs which are straightforward to look after. Do you need to develop annuals (that you could have to re-seed or re-plant every year, though some do efficiently re-seed themselves) or put money into perennials (which are extra prone to return and flower every year).

You may also need to think about the kind of flower beds that can require the least consideration – mulched beds (the place a layer of gravel, bark, leaves or compost is laid above the soil) permit the stems of established crops to proceed to develop however slows down the expansion of weeds. In any other case, container gardening could also be extra manageable for those who’re simply beginning out or have a small backyard, though containers and pots want extra watering than crops which are within the floor.

As soon as you have to know your backyard, select some bee-friendly flowers to plant from these lists. Do not forget the birds both – they’re going to admire crops that berry and seed for autumn and winter.

Crops for bees and different pollinators

The RHS Good for pollinators supplies a really complete lists of crops.

The Worldwide Bee Analysis Affiliation (IBRA) additionally has ebook Crops for Bees by WDJ Kirk & FN Howes.

Use the Bumblebee Conservation Belief on-line device to learn the way bee-kind is your backyard.

Buglife additionally present information to gardening with bugs in thoughts.

[EDIT] philipstrange additionally suggests this record of bee-friendly crops on Dave Goulson’s website online: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/lifesci/goulsonlab/assets/flowers and singles out pulmonaria “as a should for bee fanatics because it attracts the very early Furry-footed flower bee”.

Think about the place to purchase or supply your plant. Maybe a pleasant neighbor will allow you to take just a few cuttings from their backyard to get you began, or you might have already got bee-friendly crops in your backyard that simply want propagating and spreading. In any other case, order on-line from nurseries like Bee Glad Crops who do not use pesticides and herbicides.

The RHS information to soil sorts is useful for attending to know your backyard and the crops that can develop finest.