Normally the nursery site is visited by honeybees from the hives at the top of the hill, but last week they swarmed and flew away over the horizon in a big brown cloud, so the bumblebees have the place to themselves for a while. At the moment they are going mad for the catmint in the central bed. This variety is Nepeta Six Hills Giant, but any variety will be just as good for bumblebees. The lavender edging to the beds is just beginning to show colour and will shortly be in full bloom and take over as the main food source. Once this happens, we will trim back the Nepeta to encourage a second flush. This helps maintain a continuous supply of food-bearing blooms in the garden. There are flowers in the kitchen garden too with courgettes, rocket, chives and thyme all flowering. The broad beans have succumbed to blackfly and their tips have been removed, so no more flowers there.
The people visiting the garden have been more interested in two different plants: Rosa ‘Blue for You’ and Honeywort (Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’). The Honeywort is a hardy annual, but here in Cornwall will frequently overwinter and flower early in its second year. It self-seeds gently around the garden and will grow happily in a container. The bees love it, hardly surprising as it is a member of the borage family. We will have plenty of young plants for sale in July. Rosa ‘Blue for You’ is a floribunda of unusual colour. Its pink buds open to mauve blooms which fade to an almost blue-grey colour. It looks better than it sounds. It has an AGM and will reach 100-150cm height on maturity.
Foxgloves are flowering now and are very important pollen and nectar source for bumblebees. There are several varieties blooming in the garden at the moment including Suttons Apricot. This is a lovely soft pale pink with strong straight stems needing no support. Foxgloves are easy to grow from seed and now is a good time to sow the seeds. While you’re at it, sow some wallflower seeds too. These will flower next spring and provide invaluable early blooms for the bees.
You'll find the best of the current blooms on the bumblebee tables at the top of the steps.