a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France


31 Comments

New bee plants in the garden

Last March we bought some plants for the garden from a beekeeper, Jacky Borie, in the Dordogne who also sells a variety of trees and plants known for their production of nectar and honey.  At this time I had not realised the difference from buying your plants from a sure source like this or buying one from a nursery nicely marked with a label showing a bee or butterfly.  The difference, I found out later, is that the nursery plant could quite well have been treated with neonicotinamide pesticides despite its pretty label.  Professor Dave Goulson appealed for funds and surpassed his target to enable an attempt to see how pollinator friendly plants are treated.  For a better explanation see https://walacea.com/campaigns/pesticides-neonics-and-bees-keeping-bees-safe-in-our-gardens/

bee-on-goji-lycium-barbarum

I shall start with a partial success with the Lycium barbarum, partial, as the poor plants caught mildew.  Nevertheless, they survived which is more than most of ours and our neighbours tomatoes did.  No Goji berries despite the bees intervention but it is early days yet as these are just little plants.

baccharis

All the plants I received did very well and the Baccharis, in the middle of the picture, has shot up and is in flower at the moment.  I am wondering if it could be Baccharis dracunculifolia, but I have no species name.

Baccharis

It is an evergreen and should reach 2-3 metres tall, which sounds good to me but so far the bees have passed it by.  The insignificant white flowers that are open at the moment are not attracting the notice of any bees or other pollinators.

img_7042

This is my Le Leonure which is reputed to make very good honey.  My three plants have had a vigorous start and I will try to group them together for next year but I’ll have to be quick about it as the shoots are lost in winter, to regrow from the base.  Here I am even lost for a genus name but perhaps things will become clearer next year.

elsholtzia-stauntonii

I think the most successful has been the Elsholtzia stauntonii (full Latin name!).  They shot up, one in the shade and one in the hot afternoon sun.

elsholtzia-stauntonii-1

I even have seen bees on the flowers which last for a long time.

mistaken-identity

I did buy three but the third one was little and quickly succumbed.  However, I was delighted to see a new shoot appear from the base and I have been carefully watering it until I notice today that it has a little pink (?) flower at its summit.  On closer inspection the leaves do not match and it looks quite possible that I have been nurturing a weed for the past few months.

I have been pleased with my purchases and I am already perusing his catalogue to order another batch of his young plants which are a very reasonable price.

img_7032

I am also pleased that my,  Physostegia virginiana, or Obedient plant attracts the bees.

img_7025

In fact, they disappear completely inside them for several seconds.

The name Obedient plant struck me as odd until Sue at Back Yard Biology explained that you can manually twist the flower head and it will stay in its new position!  I rushed straight out to see if it did and it works.  I like the idea of a poseable plant.  The young flower heads are malleable and will stay in place but the old heads that are heavy and going to seed are passed it to play with.