July is a great time to plan a revival of your garden borders.
Not only is summer in Niagara reaching its peaks for heat and sunshine, it’s also the time of year when gardens around us are overflowing with flowering plants, which offer sweet nourishment to our bees.
Our Tree Amigos experts know that creating an easy-care bee garden is not only good for our region – it’s fun to do, as there are oodles of choices of flowering shrubs and plants, all palatable to bees, from which to choose.
Why bees, you ask? Well, without bees and other pollinators, like butterflies, there would be no fruit, vegetables, crops … you get the idea! Our Tree Amigos staff offers up a few tips for planning your bee garden, with input from The Honeybee Conservancy. Another great website we love for all things pollinating is Bee City Canada.
- First, you don’t need a lot of space. Redoing a single back border? Consider adding up to three bee-friendly plantings. Or a window box. Or a container garden. It’s not the size of the garden; it’s what you put in it that counts!
- Plan on letting your bee garden be a little messy. Sure, it’s OK to pull the weeds and tidy edges, but don’t worry about trimming things back, or deadheading… the time for that is when you are readying your border for winter.
- Plan for blooms in spring, summer and autumn
- From that first spring warmth to autumn’s sun-kissed frost, it’s easy to feed the bees with flowering bulbs, perennials, annuals and self-seeding native plants. Think crocus; hyacinth; borage; calendula; magnolia, and lilac in the spring. In the summer, look for bee balm; cosmos; nasturtium; echinacea; coneflower; coreopsis; black-eyed Susan; daisy; marigold; sunflower; snapdragon; gladiola; poppy; foxglove; daylily, and hosta. When autumn rolls around, offer zinnia; sedum; heuchera; aster; witch hazel, and goldenrod.
- Leave the dandelions alone! Dandelions, while considered by some to be weeds, offer both honeybees and native bee species food throughout their blooming season.
- When picking flowering plants, choose single-flower tops over double-blooming varieties, as they offer more nectar than their showier cousins.
- Flowering trees and vines offer food to bees, too: Any flowering tree or vine (fruit trees; magnolia; trumpet vine, etc.) can be a substantial source of nourishment to bees. Even the ordinary maple, willow and mountain ash trees offer tiny flowers that feed the bee community. Don’t forget about flowering hedges, too.
- Vegetable plants and herbs are great for pollinators. Your vegetable garden, with its flowering pepper plants; tomato; garlic; squash; pumpkin; melon; cucumber; blackberry; strawberry; raspberry … well, you get fruits and vegetables, because the plant was visited by bees and other pollinators! For herbs, think lavender; mint; sage; oregano; thyme; basil; coriander; fennel; catnip, and rosemary.
- Watch out for hybridized versions of garden plants that have been bred to not sow seeds. These may look nice, but they produce very little pollen for bees.
- In addition to food, don’t forget to offer bees water, too. Shallow containers filled with twigs or pebbles give bees a place to rest and get a drink at the same time.
- Not all soil is perfect! If you need to balance your soil, choose natural enhancements, like manure and compost, over chemical fertilizers. Remember, pesticides and herbicides can be toxic to bees and other pollinators.
One thing our experts at Tree Amigos suggest homeowners in the garden-planning stage do is to make regular tours of their neighbourhoods, to see what other green-thumbs have planted. Chat with your neighbours, ask about plants you don’t recognize, and enjoy the scenery.
Not only will you get an idea of what you like to see in a bee-friendly garden border, you’ll also get reacquainted with your neighbours, after the long winter inside. You may even be able to acquire seedlings or cuttings this way, depending on your neighbours’ generosity!
However you go about planning your bee-friendly garden, you can trust the landscaping experts at Tree Amigos to help you get it done. By this time next summer, you’ll be enjoying feeding your own hordes of little, winged garden visitors.
Want to know more about why bees are beneficial to our planet? Visit The Honeybee Conservancy’s “Why Bees?” page, HERE. For more information on how to build a pollinator-friendly garden, visit the Ontario Bee Journal information page, HERE.
To meet with one of our landscaping planning experts about the yard of your dreams, contact Tree Amigos at 905-937-5353. You can email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out the page to request a quote for services on our website here
Want to see more photos of recent Tree Amigos’ projects? Visit the Houzz app at http://www.houzz.com/canada-interior-design and put our name in the search bar. You’ll find photos of our landscaping design; stonework; water features; driveways; decks and much more.