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/

 

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  

 

 

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

The Big Problem with Sudden Oak Death

Although this may seem like old news, Sudden oak death is something all gardeners should look out for.

It is not just our beautiful old oak trees that suffer from this pathogen but many other smaller trees and shrubs that you are likely to have in your garden. The plant pathogen Phytophthora ramorum known as Sudden oak death also effects garden plants such as; Rhododendron, Viburnum, CamelliaCalluna, Erica, Hamamelis , Lonicera , SyringaTaxus and Laurel.

Symptoms vary depending on each plant, therefore is especially hard to identify. Our advice would be to visit the DEFRA site to see the list of symptoms and contact them directly if you need any further assistance in this matter. If you do find an issue please share it with us on Twitter.

 

The New Multi Plant Add Is Here!

We are making Shoot even easier to use. We are proud to announce the new multi-plant add feature. Here is how to use it:

Login as usual, go to My Garden and click on My Garden Notebook. Then, select a garden and click ‘Add Plant’

You will be offered these options:

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Select ‘Add Multiple Plants’

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Before adding a list of plants, select which garden you would like with the drop down tab just above the ‘Add Plants’ button.

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Once you have added your list, check through for spelling mistakes and descriptive information such as ‘(dark red)’ seen highlighted above. Please correct spellings and erase any other information other than the plant name otherwise it will fail to match.

When complete, click ‘Add Plants’. You will see a pop up of to tell you how many plants were added to your selected garden.

You will receive an email similar to this to tell you which plants we could not match on:

Screenshot 2016-02-23 12.12.02

You then have the option to request a plant or using our advance search tool.

We have had great feedback on this new feature so far. Please do comment below or tweet us to tell us your thoughts. We would love to hear from you!

And if you are not a member yet, please sign-up to TRY SHOOT FREE.

An Historic Spring Time Adventure

Geoffrey & Etta Wyatt will be opening the gates of their parkland garden for all to see.

The magical place can be found in the South downs National Park with views towards Cissbury Ring and the sea.

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This spring time garden was designed by Oliver Wyatt in 1945, a member of the Royal Horticultural Society and a snowdrop enthusiast who discovered and named two varieties of snowdrops; Galanthus Maidwell L and Maidwell C,  and these can both be found at Cissbury.

The garden boasts a wilderness filled with breathtaking drifts of Snowdrops, Daffodils and Bluebells, as well as a magnificent dawn redwood, holm oak hedge, many cedars and shrubbery.

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The garden is open to all on Saturday  27 February and Thursday 3 March from 10am – 4pm. Admission is just £4.00 per adult and children go for free.  Dogs welcome and home made tea is available.

For maps and more information visit NGS Cissbury

As a NGS garden, the proceeds go to charities such as; Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care and many more.

 

How much should a garden cost?

Many of us look at inspirational, beautiful designer gardens or RHS flower show gardens and hope to re-create the look in our own outside space. However many starting out to transform their gardens don’t really know how much to budget for or how to get started. Here are some common questions answered:

How much should a garden cost?

My experience is that most people underestimate what a new garden will cost. How much should your budget for? This depends on your budget and what you hope to acheive. For a great garden , it is recommended that you should estimate £100 as a minimum per square metre of garden. This may sound like a lot to invest but beautiful garden can cost as much to build as a new kitchen.

Do I need a garden designer?

If want to give your garden a completely new look, it is  worthwhile hiring an experienced, fully qualified garden designer to help. They’ll help you to make the most out of your space and budget. The cost of a designer is much smaller that the overall cost of building a new garden and is a worthwhile investment to get the most from your outside space. By hiring a garden designer who is a registered member of the Society of Garden Designers you can be confident of getting the best service and expertise.

Do I need a landscaper?

If you are doing garden construction you will need a landscaper. They will take the garden design, including elements such as garden levels, hard landscaping, power and lighting requirements, water access, planting plan and so on from the garden designer and will  complete the build work in your garden. We recommend that you hire members of the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL). All members are inspected annually and must adhere to professional standards to ensure they provide you with a high standard and a professional service.

Introducing Shoot +

By Nicola Gammon, Founder of Shoot

David Edelman’s article Give Me My Data has inspired me to open a conversation with my members and plant retailers about getting more seamless access to our own plant buying history.

One of the key differentiators for brands in the future will be how they make the data they have gathered about us more accessible and usable … and then turned into a service of itself

Shoot provides over 60,000 gardeners with a ‘my plant list’ and ‘my plant care advice’ service as well as detailed information on 15,000 (and growing) plants. If you tell us which plants are in your garden we send you pro-active, personalised plant care reminders each month. Shoot was born out of my own frustrations with plant buying and care. It has now gone on to win awards awards including Website of the Year 2012 from the Garden Media Guild and a Which? Best Buy. Some members love our service so much they are now Lifetime Members. I am thrilled to see how well Shoot is received.

I find Shoot invaluable for the jobs to do every month, for knowing what plants I have where, when I put them in, where I bought them

However, I am also aware that our service could be easier to use. It is a time consuming and boring task to gather all your plant labels before you throw them away, search through our 15,000  plants to find each one you just bought and then to add each plant to your own plant list.

An easier way could be so beautifully simple – I am calling it Shoot +. When you shop at your favourite garden centre or plant nursery, simply hand over your club loyalty card at check-out and Shoot will take a feed from their till systems to update your plants list for you with a note of when and where you bought them … automatically on your behalf.

Shoot is looking for one plant retailer to conduct a trial of Shoot +

How can you help? If you are a club member of a Garden Centre please suggest they trial Shoot + If you are willing to wear a badge or hand over a Shoot + leaflet please contact us. Or if you are visionary plant retailer and want to trial the Shoot + service for your own customers please get in touch with us. We’d love to hear from you.

Gift Memberships Available

Still looking for a great gift for a gardener you know? Don’t forget you can buy gift memberships to Shoot for just £19.99 making an ideal gift for any experienced or novice gardener! Simply add the name of the recipient and a message to create your own personalised Shoot membership gift.

Terms: One-year membership to Shoot for UK residents only. Internet access is required. Redemption within 12 months of purchase. Current members of Shoot can also redeem the one-year gift which will be added to the end of their membership term.