Shrubs and trees for bees

Throughout most of the winter, I’ve been away from the garden. Apart from the occasional tidy-up, there really hasn’t been much to do.

But with spring on the way, it’s time to get ready for another spurt of activity. Sometimes I find springtime simply too busy though. Before you know it, you’re trying to stay on top of the weeding, as well as trying to sow seeds and tend batches of seedlings (pricking out, watering and protecting them from slugs and snails can be a full-time occupation if you have enough seedlings!)

So my strategy for this year is to plan ahead, and avoid trying to fit everything into a few hours of work on a single fair-weather day in April (the usual scenario). The good news is that there is plenty to be doing.

Late-winter and early spring happens to be a perfect time for planting shrubs. They are hardy enough to survive the final frosts, and it’s actually best to plant or move some shrubs in winter, before their roots start to grow again. Winter is also the perfect time for planting shrubs because so much of last year’s greenery will have died back, letting you see where there will be space for new plants.

So earlier this week, I decided to draw up a list of bee-friendly plants that I’d love to have in my garden (space and finances permitting). So here’s my list, below. All of these plants are great for bumblebees, and as shrubs are perennial, they’ll remain in your garden for years, if you care for them properly. I’ve checked in garden centres, and all of these are available to buy and plant now. As ever, you’ll find pictures and information about most of these species on our Bee kind website. While you’re visiting there, why not rate your garden for its bee-friendliness (click here to go to Bee kind)

Flowering currant
Fruit trees and shrubs —apple, cherry, plum, pear, blackberry, blackcurrant, gooseberry and raspberry are best.
Willow—there are a huge number of varieties, but those most suitable for medium or small gardens is the type referred to as Kilmarnock willow, which tends to have a very compact shape.
Roses—check the photo to make sure they have an ‘open’ flower, where you can see the centre, as these are the only ones useful to bumblebees
Rock rose, Cistus
Hebe—make sure it’s a variety that produces flowers, as many do not.

For more information on how to plant shrubs, visit the BBC Gardeners’ World website by clicking here.

Finally a few pictures from my garden, where the hellebore and delightfully scented Viburnum bodnantense are both in bloom—a little taster of what’s to come!

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