The Honeysuckles are deciduous arching shrubs or twining vines in the  Caprifoliaceae family and are native to the northern hemisphere.  They like a full sun to part shade; neutral soil ph; hardiness zone 4-10 (subtropical species); come in a variety of colours; are propagated by leaf or stem cuttings; will grow to 20 ft (6 mts); produces a lot of fragrant flowers through the summer that are very attractive to the pollinators.  


      The Hydrangea is native to Asia, North and South America but by far the greatest diversity of plants is found in Eastern Asia (China, Japan and Korea).  The most popular form of Hydrangea is the shrub which can be grown in hardiness zones 3-9, likes part sun to shade, prefers acidic soil and blooms from spring to fall.  The white form is not affected by the ph or acidity of the soil but in the blue, pink, red and purple species the colour is determined by the ph.
You can use a commercial acidifier, pine needles or sulphur to change the ph of your soil.  All of the pollinators love the large flowers of the hydrangea and the specific benefit is that these beautiful, large flowering shrubs can be grown in a shade garden.  I've noticed that while the flowers are attractive to our honey and native bees the  Western Tiger Swallowtail (Paplio rutulus) is particularly attracted to the large flowers.


     There are 300 different species of Iris which comes from the Greek work for rainbow, referring to the wide variety of colours found in these plants.  They prefer full to part sun, grow in hardiness zones 4-9, like neutral acidity, good drainage and prefer the rhizomes to be exposed rather than bulbs which like to be deep in the soil.  They grow to 2.5 ft (75 cms), flower through the summer and should be divided every 2-5 years.  


     There are many different varieties of Kale (brassica family) which provide edible leaves that are very nutritious.  The flowering Kale can grow 1.2-1.8 meters (4-6 ft), can be grown in hardiness zones 5a-9b, likes full sun, mildly alkaline soil and will bloom in the late spring.  For propogation allow the seed heads to dry on the plant.  This is a major food source for my bees in the spring.


     The Lavender (Lanvandula) is in the mint family and is native to southern Europe, northern Africa east to India.  There are many different varieties that will grow in hardiness zones 6a-10b and depending on the variety can bloom form early spring to late fall.  This plant will grow 60-90 cm (24-36 inches) high, likes a full sun and it's fragrant flowers will attract bees and butterflies.  Cut back the spent flowers to encourage continuous blooming.  This is a major food source for my bees.


     The Lily (Lilium) genus contains 80-100 species of plants native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.  Lilies are amongst the oldest cultivated plants.  The Madonna Lily bulb was grown in the Middle East during 2nd millennium B.C. as a medicinal ointment and was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans as an ornamental and medicinal plant.  They come in virtually every colour and range in size from 30-120 cms (1-4 ft).  They are very easy to grow: they like an acidic soil but will tolerate most types; they prefer full sun but will tolerate light shade; they prefer good drainage and can be grown in hardiness zones 1-9.  They can planted by seed or bulb but most plant the bulbs in fall or early winter.  The lily will grow by division of the large bulbs and the growth of small bulbs along the old below ground stem so should be divided every 4-5 years.  Many of the species are fragrant and will attract bees and butterflies.     


     Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena) is an annual flowering plant native to southern Europe, northern Africa and southwest Asia.  It prefers full to part sun, grows to a height of 2 ft (60 cms), flowers from late spring to fall and self seeds freely but is not aggressively invasive (friendly invasive).  Individual plants are short lived so for a continuous bloom repeat sow every 4 weeks.  Once the plant is established (self sown) this will not be necessary.


    Lupines or Lupins (Lupinus) are a pretty herbaceous perennial flower which blooms for us in the late summer.  There are many varieties which come in almost every colour and range in size from .5-1.5 mts (1-5 ft) and produce an array of small flowers around an erect spike.  This flower likes a neutral ph soil, full sun (will tolerate light shade) and bees love it.  


      The Mallow family of plants, Malvacea includes a diverse group of plants including the tropical hibiscus, rose of sharon, common mallow and hollyhocks.  The mallows in our garden are controllable volunteers but there are varieties that in some areas are quite invasive.  The friendly visiting mallow in our garden grows 4-6 ft (1.2-1.8 mts) in height, likes full sun to partial shade, acidic soil, blooms through the summer and will grow in hardiness zones 4-9.  The big, showy flowers are a favourite of bees.


     The Malva is a beautiful bushy plant that flowers for us in late summer.  It is a cousin of the Hollyhock and comes in a variety of colours and heights.  It likes full sun, neutral ph, average soil type and will grow to a height of 120 cms (48 inches).  It will self seed, grows well in containers and attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.     

                                Marigold (Marsh)

      There are many varieties of Marsh Marigold (Caltha Palustris) which are in the buttercup family and native to temperate regions of the Northern hemisphere. The variety in our garden is a low growing ground cover that blooms in the spring.  This plant likes partial shade and can become invasive in clay soils where pieces of root will break off and spread.  In well drained soils this is not a problem.  It is attractive to both bees and butterflies.


    Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a member of the Mint Family and native to warm-temperate western and southwestern Eurasia and the Mediterranean region.  This is a hardy plant that grows in hardiness zone 5-10 but in the colder regions prefers some winter protection (primarily wind).  They prefer full sun, lean well drained soil and grow to a height of 3 ft (1 mt).  The flowers, like that of all member of the mint family are very attractive to bees and come in white, pink or purple.  The most popular variety is Greek Oregano (O. heracleoticum).  You can pinch the flowers to keep the plant bushy and divide the plant or the stems become too woody.


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