Creating a buzz

As the summer progresses this new garden of mine continues to reveal more of its many secrets. Not all of them are welcome though, the borders are riddled with field bindweed and there's an ancient rusting concrete mixer securely cemented into the roots of an old tree, unfortunately they look equally difficult to remove! But the discoveries when they've come have mostly been exciting ones, two of the best have been a twayblade and a pyramidal orchid peeping out amongst the waving grasses of the unmown lawn and in their number and diversity the bumblebees have been a very welcome surprise. Droning heavily between the flowers, I've watched which ones they prefer to visit and it's the vetch, catmint and the tall purple flax which seem to be favourites. It's no coincidence that the colour and shape of their flowers are similar and being closely spaced along the stems there is less distance for the bees to fly for the amount of pollen gathered and nectar drunk. Such heavy bodies for such small wings to carry, they must need a lot of fuel to stay airborne. The low hum of bumblebees and their slow methodical passage between the flowers is the perfect companion to a warm, sunny summer's afternoon in the garden. We can do nothing to ensure warmth or sunshine but we can encourage the bees with a safe insecticide free environment and reliable supply of food for them during the months when they most need it, from March to September. Keeping flowers blooming through late summer is a trick Buddleja excel at especially if we dead head them regularly. There are people who don't like Buddleja because they're common and will grow anywhere, but I think that's a good thing. Easy to please and prolific flowerers they're brilliant insect plants and although some of them are real whoppers, if you think you just don't have the space to accommodate one, there are now some new compact varieties available. Buddleja 'Buzz Lavander', 'Buzz Magenta' and 'Buzz Ivory' are the colours to choose from and if you can't make up your mind which one you like best there's also 'Multicolor' which has flower spikes of purple, orange and pink all together at the same time. Now that I have a bigger garden and for the sake of the bees I might just go mad, splash out and have one of each!