The following article was kindly sent to us by Griffins Garden Centre.
When choosing your spring flowering bulbs, make sure you choose bee friendly bulbs also, These bulbs are often one of the first source of food for the bees in spring.
Here are a few of griffins Favourite and are also a great source of food for the bees
Muscari bulbs are a must for bees.The humble grape hyacinth is one of love it or hate it, type plants, it sometimes gets a bad name because it can naturalise easily.Bees love this early spring flowering modest perennial bulb, you will often find scores of bees foraging through the clumps of sweet smelling, rich nectar cobalt blue bell shaped flowers. I love this planted with the proud daffodil.
Another of my favourite spring bulbs is the crocus. Also loved by bees, the crocus come alive with the sound of urgent buzzing on sunny spring days. Bees bob from one flower to the next, barely recognisable for the thick layer of pollen covering their bodies. Crocus flowers close at night, only fully opening in sunshine, so bumblebee queens may spend the night in these blooms, before breakfasting on nectar in the morning sun. The crocus bulbs that we plant in the autumn flowers in February and early March. We love them because they bring early colour to the garden after winter. But the bumblebees love them for food.
When bumblebee queens emerge after hibernating they’re often starving, so they need all the food they can find. But they only eat nectar and pollen from flowers. Nectar gives them the energy to forage for more food and to look for a good place to make a nest. Pollen is the protein-rich food they feed to their babies, after their eggs have hatched into hungry larvae. Crocuses are among the best early flowering food for bees if they’re planted in the sun where the bees like to forage A patch of crocuses in a sunny corner will deliver a big meal for a queen bumblebee.
Glory of the snow, Chionodoxa, is one of the first bulbs to flower in spring and, when planted generously, forms a dazzling carpet of flowers. Chionodoxa luciliae has blue, star-shaped blooms with a paler centre. It’s a great choice for naturalising in lawns, particularly beneath trees, where they can flower in full sun before the tree leaf canopy develops, creating shade.
For best results plant Chionodoxa luciliae in well-drained soil in spring sunshine. Avoid mowing or cutting back plants until the foliage has died down, to enable them to self-seed. Glory of the snow offers nectar and pollen for the early active bee and bumblebee species.
CORK GROWN BLUEBELLS
There’s nothing quite like walking into an Irish woodland in Spring and being greeted by a vibrant carpet of flowering bluebells. One or Ireland’s most familiar and striking wild flowers, bluebells are found all over the country. A display of the flowers en-masse is breath-taking a true wild phenomenon.
Bluebells grow well along a hedge or under trees and provide a great early food source for bees.
Plant native bluebell bulbs to give bees an early spring feast.
SNAKE’S HEAD FRITILLARIA BULBS
I love these spring flowers, for their hardiness, their willingness to grow in my shady, damp garden, and their incredible bell-shaped flowers with intricate, chequerboard markings. They’re also loved by bees. A very early source of food for bees. The bees can be found literally clinging to unopened flowers as early as February, eager to get that first sip of nectar so they can fly off in search of a suitable nest site. We really love fritillaria and are always delighted when they appear in our garden in the spring. Plant bulbs of ‘Snake’s Head’ varieties, fritillaria meleagris, nestled in light shade under the base of trees or the edge of a shady border and they will also naturalise in grass or look great in rockeries or pots. Fritillaria, or Fritillaries, are a member of the lily family and some often go by the name ‘chequered daffodil’ or ‘drooping tulip’. A favourite by both Gardeners and bees.
On a sunny day these will be buzzing with bees. Allium are members of the onion family and are a really stylish long stem plant with large round blooms. They are extremely easy to grow. Plant in a well drained sunny position. The Globemaster is the biggest and I think the best allium to grow in the garden. A winner for all gardeners and Bees.
Allium ‘Globemaster’ is a true showstopper, growing to about 32 inches tall. Very large, majestic purple spheres up to 8 inches across bear numerous star-shaped, deep lilac flowers in May and June. Hundreds of starry lilac-purple blooms form the incredible flower heads of this RHS AGM variety. The magnificent, spherical blooms of Allium ‘Globemaster’ are up to 15cm (6″) across! Undemanding and easy to grow, these purple alliums are guaranteed to add the ‘wow’ factor to borders and cut flower arrangements
Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ bears giant ultra-violet flower globes that radiate whimsy and cheer on 3-foot-tall stems in spring. This is one of the earliest flowering Alliums with the strongest Purple blooms. Planted with silver foliage shrubs, will bring a wow to your border.
Top tips to Planting alliums
Alliums are incredibly long-lived and flower for ages. take care when planting and they will pop up every year to reward you. They love full sun in well-drained soil (add grit on heavy soils). when planting I always plant them in groups . Yow will need to give the large alliums space to flourish. these bulbs should be planted deeply, at least twice the depth of the bulb. Dig a hole or trench, and on heavy soil spread a layer of grit all over the bottom. Push your bulbs into the bottom of the trench/hole, leaving a gap of at least 3 times the bulb width between each bulb and then cover them up. The Alliums thrive in Containers and Pots , just make sure you plant them deep enough.
Finishing off our top spring blooming pollinators, are the tulips, which bloom from early to late spring depending on the variety. If you have ever looked into the center of a tulip you will notice the black anthers that are usually covered in pollen, oftentimes in such great quantities that it’s dust covers the inner petals as well. The best types of tulips for attracting bees are found in varying shades of violet. Bees are able to see the ultraviolet rays these petals produce when reflected in the sun. My favorite bee-attracting tulips are Purple dream Tulips, Blue librije Tulips