Some good plants to start with include:
Borage Borago officinalis, is a blue flowering annual herb that can be planted from seed or you can often buy plants, from your local herb supplier. Borage has abundant star shaped blue flowers that bloom throughout the summer and attracts many bees. Once you have a borage plant in your garden it will often seed itself and you will have new plants each year as soon as the soil warms up.
Thyme Thymus vulgaris, there are many different varieties of Thyme, all equally loved by the bees. Three good Thyme plants to have in your garden would be pizza thyme, (with its vigorous growth it can stand regular picking) Lemon thyme, (with its silver foliage makes a nice contrast and flavour to your dishes, It also has a pleasant lemon scent). And the common garden thyme which is the most widely-known and used.
Sage salvia officinalis, with its blue flowers, is a bee favourite. Easy to grow, there are two common sage plants that you may know. The green sage is the most commonly used for culinary purposes. Red sage is mainly used medicinally although it can also be used for culinary purposes, it also makes a lovely carpet-type cover in your garden.
Rosemary rosmarinus officinalis, have you heard the old wives’ tale that if the rosemary plant is thriving in the front garden the woman of the house is the boss? Maybe it just meant that the garden was well cared for, which in turn would lead to a healthy garden for the bees. Rosemary is another blue flowering plant, easy to grow, just don’t over-water it. Make sure to pick often to prevent it getting too spindly. Pop some flowers into your salad for a taste sensation just leave some for the bees!
Catmint nepeta faassenii, is a pretty blue flowering plant that can be used as a ground cover and a companion plant. Ideal for planting around roses (which the bees also love).
Although we have concentrated on blue flowering plants, bees do like other flowers, last year in our garden they loved the echinacea flowers, we often saw them on the calendula and bergamot flowers. The pineapple sage with it’s bright red flowers was a favourite.
All these plants are common and readily available at your local garden centre or herb supplier. Plant for the bees and have some fun in your garden this summer! As an added bonus the monarch butterflies seem to love these flowers as well.
This article was written by Bronwyn Lowe, Medical Herbalist, from the 'Herbal Dispensary' in Raglan. At the Herbal Dispensary they are passionate about assisting you and your family achieve optimum health and vitality. Their wonderful shop in Wallis Street is filled with wonderful natural products - you'll find all you need to support your health naturally. Their health clinic can provide you with a comprehensive, individualised natural health service including herbal medicine, nutritional and dietary, analysis testing, mineral assessment, etc.
Check out their website here to find out more, purchase online, read articles and much more.