Bees and Butterflies fed on the cheap


I’ve been out shopping. Not my favourite activity, but this time I enjoyed leafing through the choices available at a local shop. Flower seeds. At 89p a packet, I’ve come home with two packs of seeds. One is a butterfly mix, the other is called Mixed Field Flowers.

Remember my overgrown hedge at the bottom of the garden? It’s almost south-facing, and is almost bare earth as it’s had rubbish on it for a long time, so I’m going to clear it completely and simply scatter the Field mix on it. The farmer that owns the fields uses them only occasionally for grazing ponies and certainly doesn’t pay any attention to the hedgerows along his site. I can tell that by the fact that other household have dumped their rubbish (including wood that we scavenge for our fire) and none of it is ever moved, and I am the one picking beer cans up out of his fields. So I’m sure he won’t mind seeing a few native wild flowers along my stretch.

The butterfly mix is going to be sown in a flower bed in the garden, and should be fabulous insect food and photographic opportunity for me, plus flowers for the house. This is a win, win, win situation if you ask me! Ecology, aesthetics and lifestyle all satisfied in one go.

poppy-bee-food

Poppy loaded with food for the bees

I can see in the photos on the packets poppies, Calendula, scabious, cornflowers, Rudbeckia, daisies, Echinacea, corncockle and cosmos. Sarah Raven has pointed out that the simple flowers, especially cosmos, are excellent bee food. I’m also planting simple, open dahlias. Not the big, multi petalled blousy ones, but the ones where you can see the open flower centre with pollen. They make great late summer food for bees and cost very little, even grown from tubers. I’ve also found a cheap clematis, which also has open flowers and lots of pollen so that will be trained through one of my trees. If you want to find out more about this whole topic, Sarah explains it in her series Bees Butterflies and Blooms, just click this link.

clematis-bee-food

Clematis

Sunflowers are also going in. Last year I did an experiment in my much smaller garde. I grew tall sunflowers, then trained runner beans up them It worked and I got two crops from one space. The bees loved the sunflowers. Each one has a large amount of food for them so they don’t have to fly so far to get a good meal. I’ll do this again this year in my new garden, and we’ll see if it has the same response. Of course, once you’ve enticed the bees in, they’ll pollinate your crops for you while they’re there.

sunflower-bee-food

Sunflower. Bee food and climbing frame

It doesn’t have to cost a lot to help nature out, and ensure my grandson (due in the next week or so) will enjoy good food, courtesy of our insects pollination, and the beauty of a buzzing environment.

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3 responses to “Bees and Butterflies fed on the cheap

  1. Pingback: 8 Spring Flowers to Feed the Bees – early nectar plants | Earth and Hearth

  2. Hi Sarah, I enjoyed your series and am looking to plant a wildflower area in my garden border. Can you give me some advice on preparing the ground and sowing the seeds. The soil is fertile but I have always been told the ground should be fairly poor to succeed with wildflowers. Can you give me some advice on planting the area? Thanks and kind regards. Mark

    • Hi Mark. I’m not Sarah, I’m Chris. Sarah made the programme Bees, Butterflies and Blooms, but I can help you. Clear the area you want to sow of weeds but there’s no need to add fertizliser for wild flowers. Rake it level and sow seed in April at about 3grammes pers suare yard of soil, water and wait. If you want to plant plugs the principal is the same, with fairly close planting. Sarahs advice is that the plants are alomst on top of each other, as this helps smother out weeds. I hope this helps! There is more advice in Gardeners World magazine, March issue and more on the website link above.

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