Garden Flowers For Bees

Perfect For PollinatorsWhen people ask me to recommend garden flowers for bees I usually point them at the excellent Plants for Bees by Kirk and Howes. Like most of us, though, I often wander through the local garden centre to buy plants for the garden. I try to buy flowers which are good for bees and other pollinators. I had thought that the RHS “Perfect for Pollinators” badge was a definitive guide to help me. Not so, apparently – nor are a number of other similar schemes and labels.

A study has just been released by the excellent Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects at Sussex University. They spent time in local garden centres where they found that “there were many recommended varieties that were unattractive or poorly attractive to insects, and some non-recommended varieties that were very attractive”. The report also points out the difficulties of recommending many different varieties and hybrids in the same plant group, many of which have misleading pictures on their labels.

Poor for bees and pollinators
No Thanks
I was aghast, to be honest, although it did confirm what I had suspected for a while. How can you say that two wildly different cultivars are both as attractive to pollinators? It explains why some “bee friendly” of “butterfly friendly” flowers in our garden here have disappointed. Roses are a very good example; the open single types of rose – closer relations to wild roses – are very different and much better for pollinators than the popular modern “English Roses”.
Dog rose - bumblebee
Yes Please!

So what’s the answer? The study suggests seeing which plants at the garden centre insects and bees visit most, which seems good advice. Ask yourself too how any self respecting pollinator is going to access the nectar and pollen of the flower you’re looking at.

The labels are a guide but nothing more.

R.V. Roger

R.V. Roger Ltd. is one of our best suppliers, and typical of the businesses I love to work with.

R.V. Roger
Steve and Ian share a joke (Ian’s crocs?).
The nursery was founded by Royston Valentine Roger before the First War, and today his grandson Ian runs R.V. Roger in the same spot at the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales, in Pickering. There are very few British nurseries left, so they must be doing something right.
They don’t use seasonal labour, and many of the folk working on the nursery have relations there too. Rogers are deeply embedded in the local community. Their staff feel a real sense of belonging and share responsibility for the successful running of the firm.
R.V. Roger fruit trees
Fruit tree, anyone?
They have to feel that way; lifting trees in the dark and a foot of snow is not a job for the faint hearted.
Ian Roger is a passionate plantsman, and has huge knowledge ranging from the heritage fruit trees and roses which are the firm’s bread and butter to rare and exotic bulbs. He’s endlessly patient and a fantastic source of information. It’s his fruit trees and bulbs we sell, although the bulb exotica never make it onto any website as they’re snapped up by collectors.
I visited Rogers in Pickering earlier this week, mostly just to catch up and buy some bits and pieces, but to have a good sticky beak around the nursery as well.
R.V. Roger plant centre
Mary does the watering
Roses at R.V. Roger
35,000 Roses
There are new greenhouses, bizarre bulbs, a garden centre, the odd National Collection, a scion orchard, and, of course, thousands and thousands of roses and fruit trees. The fruit trees include some of the rarest you can find. Fab. R.V. Roger is a great place to visit and a great nursery to support.