Sowing Wildflower Seeds
Rose led Bungay Community Bees in a seed sowing session this week. It was great learning more about the plants we were hoping to raise and I really enjoyed hearing a boy’s comment about being in awe of tiny seeds being able to transform and grow into huge plants. Well, it is pretty amazing isn’t it.
Rose has written a piece sharing what we did:
About 10 enthusiastic members of Bungay Community Bees met last Sunday at our Flixton hive site, for an afternoon of sowing and transplanting trays of pollen and nectar rich garden and wildflowers for our own gardens, our hive sites – and for distributing through our upcoming Beehive Day on July 15th. Some of the seeds sown were pollen and nectar rich mixes of both annual and perennial wild and garden flowers and some were just single plants – all known for being valuable pollen and nectar plants for bees as well as bumblebees, butterflies, moths and pollinating insects.
Among the seeds sown were a Bumblebee mix, Chris Skinner’s wildflower and annual pollen and nectar mix, an English Wildflower pollen and nectar mix, Calendula, Scabious, Cornflower, Mullein, Borage, Viper Bugloss, Anise Hyssop, Linaria, Sunflower, Cosmos, Phacelia, St John’s Wort, Teasel &. Marsh Marigold. We also transplanted several trays of Primroses and Great Willowherb for planting on the banks of the new big wildllife pond at our Flixton hive site.
Before the meeting we braved the biting wind and oncoming rain, to take a look at the wildlife pond and surrounding one acre perennial pollen and nectar wildflower meadow that we sowed last autumn. At the moment, what’s mostly visible are the non-invasive grass species that were sown with the wildflower mix, a few annual and thistle seedlings, and quite a lot of small cranesbill and speedwell plants. We are unlikely to see many of the perennial wildflowers until this autumn or next spring because they are very slow growing. We will be re-visiting the meadow throughout the year to chart and photograph it’s progress and to plant up the pond and pondside with native plants in the coming weeks. Unfortunately only one photo of the pond for now (and none of seedlings emerging) because it began raining as soon as I got my camera out!
Between now and Mid-May is an ideal time to sow pollen and nectar rich seeds in your garden or in trays of potting compost for transplanting into the garden later. It is generally easier to sow seeds sparingly in modular trays and transplant them later, especially when the weather is as cool as this and slugs and weed seedlings abound in our seedbeds! Any of the above seeds are great pollen and nectar plants – but also think of any single flowered poppies (Shirley Poppies, Californian poppies, single opium poppies) Angelica, Wild and Bronze fennel, Campanula (Canterbury Bells), Hollyhocks, Wallflowers, Cerinthe, Sweet William, Foxglove, Echinacea, Sweet Rocket, Flax, Limnanthes (poached egg flower), Love in a Mist, Evening Primrose, Sainfoin, Larkspur etc…
Most of these can be sown in trays and then grown outside or in a cold frame until big enough for transplanting. Those which will need a sunny windowsill or the protection of a greenhouse and polytunnel until frosts have passed are: Cosmos, Sunflower & Echinacea. Some sunflowers are hardy enough for outdoor sowing but in a cold wet year like this, will do better with some protection at first. (Even an upended 5 litre water bottle with it’s bottom cut off will do over a direct sowing). Remember when you do transplant your seedlings into your garden, to do so in warm, sunny spots and to aim for clumps or drifts of flowers, to make it easier and quicker for bees and insects to get the food they need. Bees and pollinating insects feed from plants in sunny places.
We are looking for extra bee-friendly plants for distributing to to other gardeners through our Beehive Day on July 15th, so if anyone wants to sow some of the above seeds, or has seedlings or rooted cuttings of bee-friendly plants or any spare herb plants, bee-friendly shrubs, single roses or perennials that they would like to pot up and grow on for us for our Beehive Day, we would be really grateful – Help us to get everyone’s gardens buzzing! Contact Rose: email@example.com, or Elinor: firstname.lastname@example.org 01986 948154