Osmocote Advertisement

Bringing in the Bees


Article Photo

I pay close attention to the plants in my garden that attract a lot of bees. I don’t know the names of all the bees in my yard, but I do know that bees hatch with the first crocus and no longer has the first species crocus opened than I see a bee hovering over it. That happens as early as late March and April.

It’s not until May that I start to see quantities of bees, and this time they’re buzzing around the catmint. I have three Nepeta ‘Blue Wonder’ and one N. ‘Six Hills Giant’. I would say that Blue Wonder is the bigger draw and it pulls in the bees all summer long. Cutting it back mid-summer encourages more bloom.

Then comes June and the blooming of my white lacecap smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens). This plant is 30 years old and breaks all the rules by being fragrant and covered with pollen. Suddenly masses of bees descend and feast away until all the pollen is gone. This shrub is probably 10 feet in diameter although I haven’t actually gone out with a yardstick to measure.

In July I noted that the stiff goldenrod (Soidago rigida) I bought last year was budding. It was slow about opening up, but when it did, in August, the bees were immediately right on top of it as well as some insects I couldn’t identify. This plant is a treasure. I bought it in 2016 and had no expectation that it would bloom that year, but in 2017 it burst through the ground and got seriously to work. I now have seven 5-foot flower stalks, each topped with upside-down pyramids of bright yellow blooms.

When the asters get around to blooming later this month, I’m sure the bees will descend on them as well. And all along, bees have been feeding on other plants in the garden – coneflower, prairie verbenas (Verbena hastata and V. stricta), culver’s root, Joe Pye weed, swamp milkweed. But the catmint, smooth hydrangea, goldenrod are the big draws.

Be sure to add them to your garden, and go downtown to see the Lurie Garden this month. The bees are swarming all over the calamintha and the hoary mountain mint (Pycnanthemum incanum). We all need to grow these plants as well.

categories

popular

Article Thumbnail
Blog
A Tough Plant for Tough Times

This is the year of the hellebore, at least in my garden. I have about a dozen now, with several of the lime-green ones ...


Article Thumbnail
Departments
From the Editor - JanFeb 2016

This is the time when the world waxes eloquent (or some semblance thereof) about “new beginnings.” Really? Is there such a thing


Article Thumbnail
Departments
From the Editor - MarApr 2016

In the Merry Hall trilogy, a series that ranks high among the world’s great garden classics, the English journalist Beverley …


Article Thumbnail
Departments
From the Editor - SeptOct 2016

September has arrived. Sigh. Or perhaps you say whoopee! Whatever your response, there’s no denying the change of seasons is …


Article Thumbnail
Features
Winter Reds

In a Chicagoland winter, we may or may not have snow. With snow, any garden can look good. Without it, we must pull out a few …


questions

I am interested in growing fruit trees in my suburban DuPage County yard. Can sweet cherries be grown here? Can you suggest varieties of apples, pears, peaches, apricots and plums that are hardy and disease resistant?

What is the correct distance from my house to plant a tree? What is the correct distance from the lot line to plant a tree?

What ratio and amounts of fertilizer would you use for a perennial bed and a vegetable garden? For growing annuals in a greenhouse, should the fertilizer be fast or slow-release, organic or inorganic?

ChicagolandGardening Advertisement