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Wild Flowers

Don't Mow, Let it Grow!

Don’t Mow, Let It Grow project will focus on the conservation of semi-natural grassland - secifically on the management of road verges and amenity grasslands across the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council area. This exciting project is led by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, working in partnership with DFI Roads and NIEA

Improving Forage 

There are many ways to improve forage for honeybees and other pollinators, including several schemes that are grant funded in Northern Ireland and elsewhere.

More Hedges

Woodland Trust grant to join pieces of woodland, including new woodland. Includes saplings, advice and funding for a minimum of 100 meteres of new hedge.

Small Woodland Grant Scheme

Annual closing date of August 30th. Minimum land required 0.2 hectares. Grant to plant from a selection of 18 native species trees for biodiversity and pollinators.

RHS Royal Horticultural Society - Lists of Wildflower, Garden Flowers and Plants for Pollinators 

The Wild Gardener

Wildlife cameraman Colin Stafford-Johnson returned home to Ireland on a personal quest to transform his old childhood garden into a haven for native plants and animals. Available on BBC iPlayer. Many people have been inspired to create their own pond as a result.

January - plants in flower

Jan-Clematis Freckles.jfif

Honeybees and bumblebee queens will emerge on mild days in search of nectar, before returning to the hive or hibernaculum. In the south of the UK, some bumblebees do not hibernate, starting a new nest instead. 

Red admiral butterflies often emerge on sunny days as well as some hoverflies.

These pollinators rely on nectar to give them the energy to return to shelter to see out the rest of winter. Winter bumblebee colonies are particularly reliant on winter flowers as they need pollen to feed their young. 

 

Winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis - low-growing, yellow flowers in January and February.

Clematis cirrhosa, including ‘Freckles’ (pictured) - evergreen climber flowering in December and January.

Oregon grape, Mahonia x media - evergreen shrub. Some varieties flower from November to March.

Jan-Oregon Grape.jfif
Jan-Winter Aconite.jfif

February - plants in flower

Feb-Crocus.jfif
Feb-Snowdrop.jfif

Dry, sunny days will bring more pollinators out in search of energy-giving nectar. Some hoverflies, such as Eristalis tenax and similar species, will be on the wing on such days. In the south, some species of bumblebee may start looking for a nest (and therefore start collecting pollen).

 

Snowdrop, Galanthis nivalis - low-growing bulbous perennial, flowers from February to March.

Crocus, Crocus tommasinianus - look for bumblebee, flowers from February to April.

Winter-flowering heather, Erica carnea - flowers from January to May. 

Gorse - a nectar and pollen source for honeybees and bumblebees from February to May.

Feb-Heather Erica Carnea.jfif

March- plants in flower

Mar-Primrose.jfif

More flowers are emerging in March, and more pollinators are visiting them. Look out for early butterflies such as orange-tip and brimstone, along with nest-searching bumblebee queens, and honeybees. 

Hellebore hybrids - different species flower from January to April.

Primrose, Primula vulgaris - flowers March to May. Particularly suited to long-tongues pollinators, such as the hairy footed flower bee.

Hazel (catkins) Corylus avellana - Hazel catkins are wind pollinated and do not produce nectar; bees gather the pollen, flowers February to March.

Rosemary, Salvia rosmarinus - Rosemary flowers from March to May, and is popular with bumblebees.

Dandelion - another weed, dandelion produces nectar and pollen when few other plants are in flower. Flowers March to October.

Blackthorn - flowers March to April, source of nectar and pollen for honeybees.

Mar-Hellebore Hybridus.jfif
Mar-Dandelion.jfif

April - plants in flower

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Apr-Apple.jfif

Flowers supply all the nutritional needs of bees, and butterflies and moths lay their eggs on leaves.

Willow (catkins) - despite being wind pollinated, willows also produce nectar. Flower March to April.

White dead nettle - widely considered a weed, white dead nettle is an important food source for a number of pollinators, including rare bumblebees. Flowers March to December.

Apple blossom - flowering in April, apple, cherry, pear and other spring blossom provides masses of pollen and nectar for pollinators in a very small space. Look out for solitary red mason bees on the flowers.

Lungwort, Pulmonaria - flowering from March to May, lungwort is favoured by the hairy footed flower bee, and flowers in shade.

Grape hyacinth, Muscari armeniacum - low-growing bulbous, spreading perennial in flower in April and May. Adored by bees.

Cuckoo flower, Cardamine pratensis - flowering for a short time, this native perennial is perfect for growing at the pond edge. Orange-tip butterflies feed on the flowers and lay eggs on the leaves.

Apr-Cuckoo Flower.jfif

May - plants in flower

May-Alliums.jfif
May-Foxglove.jfif

Many more plants are in flower in May, as nesting continues in earnest. Bumblebee nests are increasing in size, and some early nesting species, such as Bombus pratorum and Bombus hypnorum, start to produce males, which means their nests will soon come to an end. Other species are just emerging. Look out for small tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies laying eggs on nettle leaves, while nectaring on flowers such as dandelions and forget-me-not.

 

Hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna - flowers from late April to May. Flowers are popular with flies, including hoverflies.

Oriental poppies, Papaver orientale - Poppies don't produce nectar but provide copious pollen, loved by bumblebees. Flowers from late-May to June.

Alliums - there are many different allium species, most of which flower from May to June. Bees, butterflies and hoverflies flock to them.

Foxglove, Digitals purpurea - popular with long-tongued bees such as the garden bumblebee, Bombus hortorum.

Honeywort, Cerinthe purpurescens - this hardy annual flowers all year round but mostly from May to July. Bumblebees and solitary bees are regular visitors to the nectar-rich flowers.

Also in flower in May: Lupin, Red Campion, Red Clover, White Clover, Bird’s Foot Trefoil

May-Oriental Poppies.jfif

June - plants in flower

Jun-Raspberry.jfif

he 'June Gap' is a phenomenon described by bee-keepers, which suggests there is a shortage of nectar and pollen in the wild, just as honeybee colonies (and therefore bumblebee colonies and solitary bee nests) are growing rapidly. There's plenty to grow in our gardens to make up for this loss in the wild, below are some of the many options.

Borage, Borago officinalis - one of the best plants for bees, studies have shown its flowers refill with nectar every two minutes. Flowers June to September.

Viper's bugloss, Echium vulgare - another fantastic plant, butterflies and bees will flock to its nectar-rich flowers. Flowers June to August.

Mountain cornflower, Centaurea montana - flowering from June to August, mountain cornflower is very popular with bees.

Raspberry, Rubus ideaus - popular with a variety of pollinators, particularly wasps, which seem very attracted to the flowers. Flowers June to July.

Also in flower in June:Knapweed, Heather, Cranesbill, Geraniums, Speedwell, Catmint

Jun-Borage.jfif
Jun-Viper's Bugloss.jfif

July - plants in flower

Many bumblebee nests come to an end. Garden butterflies are plentiful.

Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia - a popular nectar plant for bees, butterflies and hoverflies. Flowers June to August.

Oregano - while oregano is usually used for culinary purposes, if you let it flower it's one of the best sources of nectar and pollen for pollinators. The variety 'Rosenkuppel' is particularly ornamental. Flowers June to August.

Agastache - popular with a number of different pollinators, agastache flowers from June to October.

Scabious - a firm favourite with butterflies, scabious flowers over a long period, from May to September. Also in flower in July: Comfrey, Salvia, Verbascum

Jul-Oregano.jfif
Jul-Lavender.jfif
Jul-Scabious.jfif

August - plants in flower

Aug-Heather Calluna.jfif
Aug-Helenium.jfif

Many summer flowers have already finished, as have some pollinator lifecycles. Now it's the job of the late-summer/autumn plants to continue to the season of nectar and pollen for pollinators. 

Heather, Calluna vulgaris - popular with a number of bees, heather is in flower from July to November.

Cardoon, Cynara cardunculus - this relative of the globe artichoke is hugely popular with bees, butterflies and hoverflies alike. Flowers from June to September.

Catmint, Nepeta - a wide variety of pollinators visit catmints, which flower from July to September.

Also in flower in August: globe Thistle, Sunflower, Yarrow, Hollyhock, Angelica, Cosmos

Aug-Catmint.jfif

September- plants in flower

Most pollinators have finished nesting by September, apart from the ivy bee, which starts nesting this month. Some bumblebee nests might still be active, although dwindling. Butterflies such as small tortoiseshell, peacock and comma are still on the wing on sunny days, nectaring on late flowers. 

Ivy, Hedera helix

English ivy - flowers offer an extremely important late source of nectar and pollen at a time when there's little else in flower. The blooms are noisy with late bees, butterflies, flies and wasps.

Buddleia, Buddleja - known as the butterfly bush, this Chinese native is popular with bees and hoverflies, too. Cut plants back hard in May to ensure they flower as late as possible.

Sneezeweed, Helenium - this late-summer staple is perfect for filling gaps in the border left by summer-flowering annuals. Flowers July to September.

Ice plant, Hylotelphium spectabile - another late-summer staple, ice plant is popular with butterflies. Flowers from August to October.

Sep-Sneezeweed.jfif
Sep-Ice Plant.jfif
Sep-Buddleia.jfif

October- plants in flower

Oct-Verbena Bonariensis.jfif
Oct-Rudbeckias.jfif

Fewer pollinators are on the wing this month, but sunny days will bring out butterflies and hoverflies, and the odd late bumblebee. Pollen becomes less important in October, as most bees are no longer nesting. However, they still need nectar for energy. 

Verbena bonariensis - this tall, graceful perennial is a stalwart of the autumn garden and prairie plantings, and popular with late butterflies and bees.

Rudbeckias - also found in prairie pantings, rudbeckias come in a variety of looks, but all are popular with late pollinators.

Oct-Erigeron Karvinskianus Lavender Lady.jfif

November- plants in flower

It gets harder to keep the borders going this month, as frosts wipe out the last of the summer perennials and little else starts to bloom. In mild regions, keep deadheading plants such as cosmos and dahlias, which will keep flowering until the first heavy frosts. 

Erysimum Bowles's mauve - perennial wallflower blooms for many months. In the south of Britain it can flower continuously for 12 months of the year. Sterile, it doesn't produce pollen, but is a good nectar plant for a wide range of pollinators.

Hebe - many cultivars of this New Zealand native flower continuously in the U.K from summer until the first frosts, providing a good source of nectar and pollen for a wide range of pollinators.

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Nov-Erysimum Bowle's Mauve.jfif

December- plants in flower

Dec-Lanicera Fragrantissima.jfif
Dec-Cyclamen.jfif

December is a dark month, and little is in flower. Some species of mahonia will be in flower now, along with Viburnum x bodnantense and sweet box.

Cyclamen coum - this low-growing perennial can flower as early as December, and is perfect for naturalising beneath trees. Flowers from December until April.

Lonicera fragrantissimaWinter honeysuckle is a magnet for any bumblebees on the wing in December – be they queens disturbed from hibernation or workers from a winter-active colony. The fragrant blooms are excellent for cutting, too. Flowers November to February.

Dec-Sweet Box.jfif
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