Best Plants For Bees

Many of you will already be aware that our bees are in trouble and that garden flowers can be a really important source of food for them. But its not always easy to work out which plants are best for them. There are quite a few lists of recommended plants and the RHS has developed a ‘plants for pollinator’ logo for plant producers to use on labels, but the trouble with lists is that they imply all those plants are equally valuable.

_3008490Tiny solitary bee on Helenium autumnale

To try and find out more about which plants attract the most bees, Rosi Rollings, a keen gardener and beekeeper, started doing some research five years ago and has now published her findings.

Her method is simple: from the lists of recommended plants, she chose 69 species and planted each in a block of one square meter then regularly counted a ‘snapshot’ of the bees that visited each planted block. All different species of bee were counted including some you might not normally spot in your garden like the tiny solitary bee in the picture above.

 She concluded that both the number of bees at any time and the number of weeks that plant is flowering are important factors and combined average bees with length of flowering time to produce a rating.

Out of the 69 different bee-friendly garden plants tested, here the top 30 rated plants based on the data for 2015 and 2014:

Screenshot 2016-03-18 12.32.52 “Top 30’ plants for attracting bees

The top 3 plants are, Helenium autumnale (sneezewort), an american prairie daisy, Sedum spectabile(ice plant) and our downland native biennial, Echium vulgare (vipers bugloss).

IMG_0614Honey bee and solitary bee on Sedum spectabile

These findings also support recent research by the RHS that native plants do not attract more bees than non-native.

Rosi Rollings now runs an on-line plant nursery that specializes in ‘plants for bees’. For more details on the research go to http://www.rosybee.com/

 

Professional Spotlight

This week we asked Marc Piechocki, a new Professional Shoot member, a few questions to find out more about him, his company I-Echo Landscape Designs and how he uses Shoot.

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 Where are you based and willing to travel for design work?

We are based in Wimbledon Village and our projects are mostly in London and Surrey, but distance is not a problem. We have projects abroad and our cutting edge visualisation and design service means that we can effectively communicate online which minimises the need for site visits during the design process.

How did you find Shoot?

I was searching to find a solution to a gap in our specification process. We needed to transfer our large plant lists into a more visually informative format quickly.  I stumbled upon Shoot whilst doing researching online. Shoot covered everything I needed and now achieves even more, it has also enabled us expanded our service.

How do you use Shoot in your design process?

We introduce Shoot to our clients very early in the design process by asking them to attach any plants that they specifically desire. Plant lists are then developed using Excel and imported into Shoot which does a very good job in finding photos and profiles. These are invaluable when explaining a scheme to our clients. Once the plant list has been confirmed I then share this list with our planting/maintenance team who can then calculate how many hours would be required in the garden so we can produce a planting and maintenance quote.

What are your top 3 plants? (Sorry, we know that is a hard question to answer!)

Well that is difficult,  I think Erigeron karvinskianus is great for bordering paving as it will soften any edge. Cornus Kousa ‘Miss Satomi’ is a beautiful specimen and is a very  delicate Kousa variety with lovely petal tones and Verbena bonariensis a great splash of colour perfect for impact within a border.

And finally, what is your favourite feature in Shoot for Professionals?

There are many favourites so I have to mention my top two firstly the plant list upload facility is very powerful and saves so much time in trawling through google for plant details and photos. Secondly is the ability to communicate fluidly with our clients and retain that communication beyond the completion of a design.

Check out our blog on pricing options for Professionals for more information.

New Plants at Chelsea Flower Show

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show has always been the place to showcase new, rare, and beautiful plants and this year is no exception. The Brewin Dolphin Garden, designed by eminent nurserywoman Rosy Hardy, marks the launch of four new varieties of herbaceous perennials.

Cirsium rivulare Frosted Magic

Rosy frequently uses the classic Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’ in her designs, but this garden features an unusual white-flowered form of this popular thistle, Cirsium rivulare ‘Frosted Magic’. This plant is a sturdy, upright, easy to grow perennial with a long flowering season in summer, perfect for the garden or a landscape with “prairie-style” planting. At maturity, it should reached 120cm with a max spread of 60cm.

Another newcomer, Nepeta x faassenii ‘Crystal Cloud‘ sports whorled spikes of delicate, pale lilac flowers, an exciting new colour for this species. The plant is compact and bushy with an upright habit. It’s as easy to grow as other Nepeta and, it’s grey-green leaves and pale flowers make a great partner for plants with dark foliage. Geranium ‘Midnight Reiter’, with its dark purple leaves and dark blue flowers, is an excellent choice. ‘Crystal Cloud’ grows to a max height of 45cm and flowers from late spring to late summer.

FD14681 Veronica Mountain Breeze

Also new are Veronica ‘Mountain Breeze’ and Gaura ‘Rosy Shimmers’, the latter bred by Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants and is a contender for Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year. ‘Rosy Shimmers’ is tall, eventually reaching 1 metre with  reddish pink leaves and large, pale pink petals. Forming a compact mat no more than 40cm tall, ‘Mountain Breeze’ has lightly-striped, mid blue and is a repeat flowerer!

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Rosy will be planting all of these new cultivars exactly where one would find them naturally, adhering to her mantra of ‘right plant, right place’. Entitled Forever Freefolk , The Brewin Dolphin Garden 2016 aims to highlight the fragility of chalk streams which have dwindled to around 200 worldwide and are further endangered by pollution and climate change.

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The River Test in Hampshire is a perfect example of these rare and vital natural resources. The Test runs through Rosy Hardys’ Hampshire village and is very much the inspiration for this, her very first Chelsea show garden. Forever Freefolk is divided into four distinct planting zones: shady, dry chalk grassland, part shade/damp and lush damp. Nearly 6,000 plants, all grown by Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants, will fill these zones.

A dry chalk stream bed, surrounded by Achillea ‘Moonshine’, Alchemilla sericata ‘Gold Stike’, and Iris ‘Jane Phillips’, leads the eye back to the stream’s source. The planting gradually changes to reflect the change in habitat. The final zone, a lush, damp place, includes Astrantia ‘Ruby Giant’, Baptisia australis, Caltha palustris and Campanula porskyana.

Shade loving plants in this zone are Aquilegia chrysantha ‘Yellow Queen’, Bergenia ‘Wilton’, Brunnera ‘Looking Glass’ and, if the weather cooperates, there could even be another new introduction, Digitalis ‘Gold Crest’. Key plants in the grassland zone are Dianthus armeria, Eleagnus ‘Quicksilver’, Erigeron krvinskianus and Eriophyllum lanatum.

 

Modern Slavery Garden

Juliet Sargeant Designs Show Garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016 to Highight the Existence of Modern Slavery in the UK & Effect Change

The Juliet Sargeant Designs show Garden is a celebration of the British Parliment passing the Modern Slavery Act  into law on 26 March 2015.

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However, this law is just the beginning. Ninety percent of actual change in circumstances is due to the actions of law enforcement and the general public. It is with this fact in mind that a group of like-minded individuals from all walks of life came together and created this garden for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Despite this law, statistics tell us there are an estimated 13,000 enslaved people in the UK currently, and more than 27 million people worldwide.  The aim of this garden is to raise public awareness of this issue. “Being involved in the RHS Chelsea Flower show affords us a wonderful opportunity to get the message into the living rooms of the great British public, build support and help end modern slavery” Mirabelle Galvin, Modern Slavery Garden Team Member.

The garden features a number of doors. First to meet the eye are bright, inviting doors surrounded by colourful planting schemes, used to illustrate the ordinary streets in which we live. Behind these doors, we glimpse a series of dark, imposing, locked doors, symbolising  the hidden ‘behind closed doors’ nature of modern slavery. 

Translucent planting separates the front of the garden from the darker inner space. Feathery fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and the stems of Verbascum and lupin (Lupinus) echo the vertical iron railings surrounding the garden. A ribbon of warm apricot and orange hues run around the perimeter of the garden and compliment the bright colours of the painted front doors. These ribbons include the brightly-coloured, cottage garden favourites, like Peony ‘Coral Sunset’ (Paeonia ‘Coral Sunset’) and Anthriscus ‘Ravenswing’. Included are recently introduced varieties like Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ , launched at Chelsea in 2010, and Heuchera macrantha ‘Palace Purple’ , which debuted in 1983.

Juliet has also chosen to include static pauses in the planting with Coprosma ‘Lemon and Lime’ and Coprosma ‘Pina Colada’ These contrast with the more dramatic forms of Red hook sedge (Uncinia rub) and New Zealand wind grass (Amenanthele lessoniana). This is clearly a garden of contrasts, the bright, uplifting colours surrounded the black heart of the garden’s interior.

The Pollen is coming, be prepared.

Spring has sprung and everything is waking. However, as flowers start to bloom, that ‘everything’ may include your hay fever!

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For those of you who like the outdoors, but suffer from pollen allergies, we want to help! As all doctors agree, prevention is better than a cure so understanding what kind of pollen you are allergic to is more than half the battle. If you can work out what triggers your hay fever, you can try to avoid it whilst still enjoying outdoor activities , especially gardening!

Since pollen is primarily carried by wind or insects, it is impossible to avoid it altogether. Airborne pollen is at its highest concentration in the morning as the temperature starts to warm and in the evening as the temperature cools. Warm, windy days are the worst for airborne pollen, but many allergy-suffering gardeners cannot stop working due to these conditions. In this situation, seeking medical advice and wearing personal protective equipment are the best ways to lessen allergy symptoms. Generally, different plant groups create more pollen during a specific time frame throughout the year. You may be able to identify what type of pollen you allergic by what time of year you have symptoms:

  • Tree pollen usually affects people from January to May
  • Grass pollen is released in May through to the end of the grass growing period (this is usually autumn).
  • Weed pollen season is late summer into autumn.

Easy ways to reduce your pollen contact:

  1. If you suffer from a tree pollen allergy, avoid planting trees or shrubs with catkins such as: alder (Alnus) , ash (Fraxinus) , beech (Fagus) , birch (Betula) , elm (Ulmus), ginkgo, hazel (Corylus) , mulberry (Morus) and oak (Quercus) . If you desperately want to plant one of these trees in your garden, check if it is dioecious so you can select a female plant that won’t produce pollen but will produce fruit.

  2. Choose plants that attract wildlife. Their pollen is generally collected by insects so it is less likely to be airborne. Plants like foxgloves (Digitalis), Campsis and other trumpet-shaped flowers are also good options.
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  3. Grass pollen sources include lawns, ornamental grasses, and meadows. Luckily, ornamental grasses such as Muhlenbergia, Stipa, Carex, and Miscanthus are low maintenance during the warmer months. Also, lawn grass pollen can be greatly reduced by frequent cutting.

For more information on allergic reactions, moulds, and more gardening tips for positive avoidance, please visit Allergy UK  

 

 

Mother’s Day Walk and Talk

A walk in an open space allows us to open our lungs and stretch our legs, see the beauty of gardens and the natural wilderness and also has a way of opening us up. Being surrounded by fresh air and lush green has a very positive effect on the brain, it calms the mind, boosts creative thinking and gives us a chance to reflect.

This Mother’s day weekend there are 20 NGS gardens open across the UK. Here are just 5 of the 20 for your to visit with your Mum and entire family:

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www.capelmanorgardens.co.uk.

Open on Saturday only: Capel Manor Gardens, Enfield, a great for all the family; there are 30 acre of gardens that surround the Georgian Manor House and Victorian Stables, model and historic gardens including a Chelsea Flower Show Gold medal garden. And for the little ones who are not yet the avid gardeners, there are animals to see and an evergreen maze and Jungle Gym to play in for hours of fun.

 

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Photo by Alan and Diana Guy of Kitemoor Cottage

Visit Kitemoor Cottage in Dorset to view the beautiful varieties and cultivars of the beloved Christmas Rose. Plants person Diana Guy invites you to walk amongst her 1/2 an acre garden filled with; an orchard,fruit and vegetable garden, mini meadow, naturalistic planting and cottage borders. Diana also has a large collection of Hellebores with the opportunity to purchase some too.

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www.swarthmoorhall.co.uk

Fingers crossed they have had a perfect winter and the crocus field is full! For a look at naturalistic bulb planting and a field full of colour, visit Swarthmoor Hall in Cumbria. They are happy taking admission by donations and also serve light refreshments in the Barn Cafe.

 

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www.boughtonhouse.org.uk

Boughton House is a great spot in Northamptonshire with fantastic vistas, newly created sensory and wildlife gardens and a wilderness woodland open for visitors to view the spring flowers. You may even see the emergence of their herbaceous borders that will tempt you back for more.

 

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www.kingjohnsnursery.co.uk

Close to the Sussex/Kent border, a Romantic garden for all seasons will open it’s gates for the first time this year. King John’s Lodge is 4 acres composed of a formal garden with water features, rose walk and wild garden and pond. Rustic bridge to shaded ivy garden, large herbaceous borders, old shrub roses and secret garden.

For more information on all of these gardens and more please visit the NSG find a garden.

And remember if you do visit, please email or tweet us your photos celebrating Mother’s day.

 

 

Giving back

Nicola Gammon, founder & CEO of Shoot, announced a personal commitment to give back by signing up to Founders Pledge.

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“I thought — what kind of legacy do I want to leave as a human being? It was an easy decision for me to give back to the community, and to donate to MassChallenge, an organisation that has helped me and my business so much.”  Nicola Gammon, Founder of  Shoot

Through Founders Pledge, a charity that was spun out of Founders Forum, entrepreneurs leverage their success and give back to society, committing to donate at least 2% of their personal proceeds (not equity) from a liquidity event to a social cause of their choice.

As of March 2, Founders Pledge has had 329 pledges across 249 businesses with $18.2b in aggregate valuations, making the total value of pledges around $70 million. Founders Pledge charges nothing, allowing pledgers complete control in selecting the recipients of their donation, and brings together their community with regular events.

Pledges have been signed already by a number of MassChallenge alumni, including Nicola Gammon (founder and CEO at Shoot) and James Roy Poulter (co-founder and CEO at Pronto), David Hellard at Zipcube.com and Danilo Leao at BovControl.

Brent Hoberman, co-founder of Lastminute.com, MADE.com, and Founders Forum, also supported the announcement today and stressed the importance of giving and connecting the tech community to opportunities to give at all stages of their life cycles.

When you have 80 people together in a room who have ‘made’ it, there is not as much energy. Getting together with younger entrepreneurs and using our influence collectively for good with Founders Pledge, we can accomplish so much.” — Brent Hoberman, Founder of MADE.com

Front of mind with clients

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Shoot keeps Tendercare front of mind with our clients. Adam Robinson, Design (Tendercare)

Shoot for Professionals is a great way of maintaining continuity with a client beyond the garden handover stage and it also allows us to brand the regular care instructions which helps to keep Tendercare front of mind. If the client adds more plants to the garden themselves they can edit the Shoot garden page and we have an up-to-date record of what’s in the garden when they come back to us  to talk about additional plants or designing other areas of the garden.

We’ve just designed and built a small garden for a client in Flackwell Heath and, as the clients are not big gardeners and were looking for something low maintenance, we thought it would be a nice gesture to give them a year’s subscription to Shoot and upload all of their plants to the website in addition to the planting plans and other visuals. The full service Shoot package will ensure that Tendercare Design stays front of mind with the client.

Note: If you shop at Tendercare they will provide you with a PDF print out of your plants purchased to upload into Shoot.