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Borage (Borago officinalis)Also known as star-flower, Borage is one of the very best plants for bees. It’s an easy to grow annual that has a long flowering period and its nectar-rich flowers are great for attracting short-tailed bumblebees and honey bees. It’s edible too! The leaves have a cucumber taste and the pretty blue flowers can be used in summer drinks and sprinkled on top of salads. Borage self-seeds prolifically and will spread around the garden. This isn’t a problem though as it’s also useful as a mulch and in the compost heap, the stems and leaves being rich in calcium and potassium. Sow borage seeds in pots now, or wait till April and sow them directly in the ground. They like well-drained soil in a sunny spot.Catmint (Nepeta)Irresistible to bees as well as to our feline friends, catmint is a low maintenance, perennial plant with a long-flowering season. It loves a sunny position and free-draining soil. Buy organic plants now ready for planting out.Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)Chives are another edible herb that’s great for bees. They’re perfect for container gardens and can be grown on balconies and in window boxes. The edible, purple pom-pom flowers – which are actually lots of little flowers close together – provide easy access to lots of nectar. Chives like a rich, moist but well-drained soil in sun or partial shade. Sow seeds direct into their final growing position from March onwards. The plants will die down over winter and pop up again in early spring. You can divide the clumps and plant elsewhere when they get too big.LavenderA summer favourite of people and bees! It’s a great source of nectar for butterflies too and there are lots of different lavender varieties to choose from. Plant in pots or in the ground from March through to May. You can raise your own plants from seed but it’s usually easier to buy plants or take cuttings from a friend’s plant in the summer. Just make sure that the plants you buy haven’t been treated with pesticides.Verbena BonariensisA tall, graceful, late-summer flowering perennial from South America. Verbena Bonariensis is a great plant for the wildlife garden, it’s numerous branched clusters of small, purple flowers attract bees, butterflies and moths. It prefers a well-drained, moist soil in full sun and some shelter from the wind. Seeds can be sown directly in the ground in March and April.For more bee-friendly plants have a look at the RHS Plants for Pollinators lists.4. Create a Wildflower PatchGrowing wildflowers is a great way to attract lots of pollinators into your garden and March is the perfect time to sow them. Create a wildflower border, convert an area of lawn into a mini-meadow or sow some wildflower seeds in containers. Here’s a great guide on how to create a wildflower pollinator patch written by the Channel Island Pollinator Project.5. Provide Water for BeesBees and other pollinators also need water to drink. Ponds with shallow margins are perfect and birdbaths can be adapted by adding some stones for bees and other insects to use as landing pads. You can also make a special bee watering station using a shallow saucer lined with some pebbles or marbles.6. Protect Bee Nesting Sites and Build a Bee HotelA thriving wildlife garden is full of safe nooks and crannies for bees and other pollinators to hide out and create their nests in. Undisturbed corners, holes in the ground, piles of leaves and under sheds are all places they may choose to nest in. You can also buy ready-made bee hotels to hang up in your garden for bees and other insects to live in. The best nest boxes for bees have an assortment of tubes ranging from 6mm-10mm. Alternatively, have a go at making your own bee hotel.7. Spread the Word – Create a Bee-Street!Get together with neighbours to create as many wildflower patches as possible. Through combining your efforts, you can brighten up your street and help bees at the same time. Join in with Grow Wild’s Bee Street campaign and help turn your neighbourhood into a haven for pollinators.
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