Best flowers to grow for you and your bees

flower 4 || cityhippyfarmgirlflower 5 || cityhippyfarmgirl

Looking around my garden, while it certainly wasn’t a total sea of blooms and wildflowers, for a garden that was 7 months young it had a decent selection of flowers both for us and our local bees. I was actually pretty happy with how it was all shaping up. Some flowers had come and gone, some flowers were still to be planted when spring officially raised her head again, and somethings had been there since we began.

When we had first started ripping up agapanthus and gardenias (which is what this garden had solely had before us; alongside grass and crap soil) I had vehemently said, we shall not grow anything that doesn’t serve an eating purpose and is useful! While I still stand by that statement, I have added a little bit more flexibility to it. Kangaroo Paw and and Daisies have earned their positions in the sun and while we don’t eat them, they look gorgeous and are a great addition for our bees to choose from.

For the bees and other local beneficial pollinators my wild plans of having a year round selection of changing seasonal foraging options… well it’s actually shaping up quite well.

Here’s a list of some bee friendly (whether they are native stingless, solitary or honey bee) plants that have made their way into the garden or will be in the next month or so.

flower 9 || cityhippyfarmgirl

Alyssum– sweet scented, great for a ground cover.

Borage– you can also eat the slightly spiky leaves, just finely chop them first. Edible flowers, great for decorating and salads.

Blueberries– Hopefully they’ll turn into blueberries at some stage, they do seem to have a long flower stage, (this is their first year out of pots.)

flower 12 || cityhippyfarmgirlflower 01 || cityhippyfarmgirl

Calendula– Not on the excellent end of the colour chart for bees but it has many other uses so I’d be mad not to include it.

Clover– Tiny soft scented flowers, loved by bees and adored by small hands.

Comfrey– It’s been lying fairly dormant in a corner of the yard, biding time for warmer weather ((I hope!) A good soil conditioner, great for compost and a medicinal plant.

Cornflower– Not yet planted but the seeds are ready to go, come warmer weather. Plant too early and the seeds won’t germinate in the cold wet soil.

cosmos || cityhippyfarmgirl

Cosmos– these were such a joy over the warmer months, with so many flowers coming from a single plant. They also gave great shade to some of the more delicate vegetables.

Daisy– and oldy but a goody, and I can pretty much completely ignore them in terms of maintenance.

Dandelion– They grant wishes, don’t really make you wet the bed and are a super simple flower addition to your bee flowers.

Kangaroo Paw– a gorgeous Australian native that doesn’t require much attention at all.

Lavender– They happily sit in my “Mediterranean Corner”, sounds far more exotic than the dry corner where it cops the most sun.

Lupins– great green manure crop, where I was supposed to cut them down before they got to flower stage…nah, just couldn’t do it. I loved seeing bees on the flowers.

Marigold– again not at the good end of flower colour chart but still a favourite and easy to generate more seedlings, so they are here to stay.

Nasturtium– Good ground cover, will climb if you train it up and flowers look lovely for food decorating.

Rocket– My first rocket crop was a failure due to rubbish soil, I’ve learnt from it, can now grow great rocket and have let the rubbish crop go to flower so still creates a garden benefit.

Sunflowers– I haven’t planted these beauties yet as still a bit cool, but the seeds are good to go and I’m just a little bit excited about have 2.5 metre flowers within my garden.

Thai Basil and Holy Basil– I’ve got patches of both, and while not quite at the large bush stage, they are looking promising.

Yarrow– this beauty is doing wonderfully well, conditioning my soil, providing seasonal flowers and is a great medicinal garden addition.

Zinnia– currently not flowering due to winter but summer gave a wonderful crop which helped with shading some of my more vulnerable vegetables during the middle of the day heat. They were also remarkably easy to generate more seedlings with the dried flower heads.

flower 01 || cityhippyfarmgirl

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If you are creating your own bee flower garden, do keep in mind, they can see the purple/blue coloured flowers the best, with red flowers being at the end of their scale. I’d say skip the red roses this year and head for the borage!

What plants do grow for the benefit of both you and your bees?

For more reading on bees and their colour preferences see here

 

 

 

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a hint of spring

cityhippyfarmgirlcityhippyfarmgirlcityhippyfarmgirl there’s a hint of spring in the air

a wattles scent being thrown out into the wind

enough to catch me and stop

hopeful blueberry flowers

delicately sitting on tiny branches

and the punks of the park

they know spring is coming

a hint of it anyway

spring in my step

 

It looks like we are springing in to spring round these parts. The light is different, days longer, clothing layers are slowly being peeled off and jasmine…

Beautiful jasmine is flowering on local suburban fences, where I’ll quite often smell it before I see it. A gorgeous soft delicate smell that I’m sure to my end of days will always remind me of my mother. It’s such a favourite flower with her. A tiny sprig is just enough to scent the air, enough to turn heads that say “Ooooh, what’s that lovely smell?

Blue sunny skies and cold seas are enticing little feet in. Sand is being strewn, holes are being dug and shivery skinny bodies are being dried off. Part of me wants to listen to the sea’s siren song and go swimming. The other part of me says, oh hell no, it’s still way too cold in there. Maybe in a few months…

I’m still crocheting too. I keep getting side tracked with different projects though, which is making it tricky to finish anything. A little bit here and a little bit there. Stolen moments that slowly add stitches while creations grow. I’m not sure what is more appealing at the moment, the prospect of making something and fueling that creative drive or the calming meditative effect repetitive stitches has on me. Either way, it’s working.

Goodbye to winter which I always adore. Winter and all she has to offer. The warming foods, seasonal vegetables, looped scarves, and a cooler time to stop, think and plan. With spring now here though, there is a new vibrancy. A new sense of growth and energy, both internally and around me… an energy that I’m sure will put just a little spring in my step.

What’s happening with you and your change of seasons?

patchwork, proteas and an iron

Proteas

Odd beautiful flowers, that will always make me think of my grandfather, (he used to grow them, not because he was pink coloured and slightly furry.)

An Iron 

What is it?

The Monkeys whispered. First to each other with small frowns on their faces and then turning to me in a much louder tone.

WHAT IS IT?!

That my sweet children, is something I never thought you would see. Something I had sheltered you from in your first innocent years. A ‘thing’ that so very rarely darkens our doorstep, there had not been a need within their collective memories to have ever cast their eyes over such a contraption. That my children…

That, is an iron.

Oh… and off they went.

I’ll say it now and I’ll say it proud. I am not an ironer, (unless absolutely, positively necessary.) Ironing is up there with sifting. Usually I can find some way around not doing it. I think there may be an iron at the back of the under-the-sink cupboard….maybe. Definitely no ironing board though. One would take up far too much valuable space in a flat, and I’d probably feel inclined to decorate it with whimsical fairy lights.

Patchwork

So The Monkeys got their first sight of an iron, and why was it up? I was in the middle of my first bit of quilting. My first ever baby step in to the land of quilt. Easter long weekend and we were not home. Instead I had access to some really large floor space, (for laying out) a permanantly positioned sewing machine (and over locker) and distractions for the boys. This quilt was not something I had rushed into. Over quite a few months, pieces had been cut out, patterns played with, much fiddling of fabrics had been done, just not at home. No time, nor space at home so if I didn’t get it finished this time, it would probably be another 6 months.

Not one for patience, and with a bucket load of enthusiasm under my belt, the kids were banished and I set forth.

Now to be upfront, me and sewing haven’t always been friends. There is enthusiasm for it, especially since having kids. I’ve got a machine, but it doesn’t come naturally to me. It’s hard work for this brain to work out which piece I’m supposed to be sewing. I don’t do it that often as it’s a royal pain to set it all up, do 5 minutes before little people come and ‘help’, finally get in the zone of it all and then have to pack it all away.

So a long weekend of sewing was planned, and a quilt none the less. Well that’s what I had planned anyway. Time raced by, and in my greedy need for wanting to take something home to be used straight away, it ended up being a doona cover. Not an exciting title is it… doona cover. But it’s mine, it’s patch work, I did every little piece. Miraculously there are no gaping holes, and a whole lot of it was made out of sample fabrics. (Got to love the thriftyness of patchwork.) As The Monkeys hollered for dinner and I whirred away on with my little foot peddle, I even got some pillow cases made.

I was having so much fun with the sewing machine. The ball was finally rolling again and I so wanted to do more, but my time was up. Those matching sailor suits for The Monkeys made from retro curtain fabric?… maybe next time.

Why don’t I grow food in pots?

Why don’t I grow food in pots?…

It really is a good question. I live in a flat, I have many pots that are empty and ready to be used. I certainly have the inclination. But…

I have been down this road several times before. So much so, that I have spent quite a lot of money on organic potting mix, seeds, seedlings, and pots. I have trawled the streets with my kids on the look out for pots during council clean up periods and still nothing to show for it. When we first moved in here I started off all gung ho and with lots of ideas of harvesting from all my bountiful pots.

What went wrong?

Not enough sun light in the court yard? Too much rain? Not enough rain? Then when they did flourish so did the slugs and caterpillars. A true feast for them!

So after numerous occasions of trying, it has just got the point where I am putting way too much money in to the potting project and just have to admit defeat. So for the time being I will stick to my succulents and my window box flowers that are supposed to be attracting good bugs and bees….

… just not at the moment.