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Berghill

We have a border which is about a metre wide and 25 metres long. It has a row of fruit trees in it. In between the trees we planted things which would provide the pollinating insects with food when the fruit blossom was finished. Over the years the Geraniums have taken over and thugged out more precious plants. So the question is, if I remove all the Geraniums what could I replace them with? Nothing taller than  say a metre and  definitely well behaved.

Berghill

Foxgloves maybe too tall.

Aquilegias are almost as bad as Geraniums for taking over.

Scabious ditto. The one we have seeds itself all over the place.

The only Verbena which survives the winter here is V. bonariensis which again is rather tall.

Thanks anyway. Will keep thinking.

Lou12

What about hellebores, we remove the leaves when they flower in winter and I've seen bees on them very early in the year.

Mine flower for 6-8 months a year.

Have you got Geranium phaeum?  It likes shade and may be one to keep.

To extend the season for bees look to early and late flowering plants; there is plenty around in summer for them.  Bulbs in spring include mascari and bluebells.  Prostrate rosemary is good for bees and flowers early. Primroses too.

In late summer the sedums are good and as has been said Verbena bonariensis is good from spring through autumn and even up til Christmas in some years.

The bees here love heucheras when they are in flower, same with the hostas. As Ladybird said, Salvias are a hit, as are snapdragons.  Cosmos seem to be going down well this year too.  I'd say Geum, but if my Mrs Bradshaw is anything to go by this year, they might be a bit taller than you'd like.  

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Berghill

Asclepias are too tender for us here. They just die in winter as do Echinacea.

Already got Hellebores in it and Sedums. Lots of Alliums too. Muscari are a total no no. Spend as much time digging them out as I do any other weed,

Primroses and Cowslips flower at the same time as the Fruit trees, so not really much use to extend the season.

Geranium phaeum is as big a weed for us as ground elder. Terrible stuff, self seeds all over the place.

Thanks folks, Keep them coming. As you can see I have been thinking about it for a while and everything I came up with could be dismissed for one reason or another, mainly on height and time of flowering.

Berghill

Geums are probably as good as anything. We have about 30 different ones already.

Sorry should have made it clear  that I was looking for perennials.

Heucheras rarely survive more than one season for us, for some reason, as do Heucherellas.

We can only keep Rosemary in pots in the poly tunnel over winter. Dies of cold otherwise.

Again many of the nice Salvias die over winter and the hardy ones get a bit tall for the border.

Veronicas and Veronicastrums too get rather too tall.

Hyssop sounds good.

Just thinking of what I have - Japanese Anemones, Lavender, Salvias and Fuschias seem 'attractive' to bees. I read somewhere that bees love purple flowers so maybe Aliums and Catmint too. Dahlias supposed to be good too (singles). 

Have fun choosing.

Mark56

ln addition to those already mentioned - Lythrum (likes loads of water), Agastache black adder (might be too tall for you), allium sphaerocephalon, allium siculum, dwarf lupins, agapanthus, hebe, perovskia little spires, rudbeckia/echincea smaller varieties.

Last edited: 08 August 2016 22:04:50

Fairygirl

The alliums (sphaeros)  are great - despite the wind and weather we currently have here, the bees can cling onto them very successfully!

They can get tall Berg, around three feet for me,  so might be ok for you height wise. I usually have some other stuff round them for support. Some are slightly horizontal through the alchemilla and a Phormium, which is quite nice too  

Berghill

Thank folks. Sad to say very few of the suggestions float my boat.

Alliums I have in plenty as I collect them (and if you see one called Allium wallichii then go for it 2 feet tall purple ball with nice leaves in August/September).

Anything the slightest bit less than totally hardy dies here in winter, so Agastache ,and  Agapanthus are no use. We have lost all our Hebes over the last few years, even the ones I grew from wild collected seed. Parahebe seems to survive though so I may propagate that and out it in.

Oh and Anemone japonica....shudder. Been pouring Round up on it for 20 years and still it comes back and invades every plant round it.

Awkward cuss ain't I? But at least it shows I have thought about what we want.

aym280 - That butterfly root is lovely, you've inspired me to go and buy some right now!

Berghill - How about yellow Corydalis?  It likes the partial shade underneath a tree, shouldn't really need watering and should be hardy right down to about -15.  Best of all, slugs don't usually touch it!

Another simple option, if you want bees, is to grow some hardy Lavender.

You might also consider growing something that isn't perennial but which self-sows and returns year on year. Nastertiums- particularly good for butterflies- are as good as anything I know for this, plus after a few years they'll cross pollinate and you get a good mixture of your own unique flowers.

Berghill

This is the border, the right hand side of this picture. The left side is also a narrow border, but not as badly over taken by Geraniums...........yet!

Someone suggested planting Crocosmia in plant pots before putting them in flower beds i.e. sinking the pot half full of Crocosmia into the flower bed, which I duly did about 18 months ago.  The plants are flourishing but not spreading - no problem. I will try to take a picture if you wish to see them.

Yes Ladybird, we made the mistake of planting mint directly into our veg. patch.  Within a couple of years it had spread beyond the limits of the patch and into the lawn and it did take many years to finally eradicate it. I do like Crocosmia, but ideally it needs space to spread. This pictures shows another batch of  crocosmia which is

planted at the end of our driveway where I decided not to plant them in pots but to let it grow more freely.  However in the flower bed it is firmly planted in a large pot to contain it's growth (I hope).

Last edited: 09 August 2016 20:45:51

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Berghill

At least they survive the onslaught of the geraniums.

LauraSquirrel

Here's a few of my fav low growing bee friendly plants, all seem to be hardy up here in chilly Northumberland :D

Penstemon

Eryngium

Salvias (especially the blue / purple ones!)

Echinacea

Oregano and Marjoram

Catmint

Lavender

Astrantia

Red campion

Bladder campion

Hyssop

Campanula

Centurea

Jacobs ladder

Dianthus

Ox-eye daisy

Forget me nots

Iberis sempervirens (popular with butterflies too!)

Liatris

Sedum Spectabile

Stachys

Erigeron Karvinskianus (this is one of my fav plants at the moment, flowers forever!!)

Hope that helps :D 

Crocosmia grown in a pot sunk into the flower bed - easy to move if necessary - this is it's second year and I imagine that eventually the plastic pot will crack under the strain of the roots, but at present I am happy with the manageable display it is giving.

Berghill

A very comprehensive and useful list. Thanks.

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