01 Oct 2022

Green Fingers: Little pollinators that are the bee’s knees

Green Fingers: Little pollinators that are the bee’s knees

California Lilac offers almost everything a gardener could wish for in a shrub: free-flowering and lovely foliage Picture: Pixabay

AS WE move through the season, we might decide to plant some new shrubs in a pots, a new bed or a border. If you are about to plant shrubs, please remember to plant shrubs that are pollinator friendly plants. Simply put, pollinator friendly plants provide food for pollinating insects. We have planted several in our garden which attract large amounts of bees.

Berberis darwinii
A large growing, dense evergreen shrub that makes an excellent backdrop to other shrubs but also works very well as a tough flowering hedge. We have planted several in our garden and look forward to the flowering every spring. The shiny, small, holly-like leaves of Berberis darwinii are smothered in orange-yellow bell-shaped flowers in Spring and early Summer and are followed by edible purple berries in Autumn-although this is not recommended. It is by far the best Berberis for a coastal location. Berberis Darwinii will tolerate some shade and will grow in all but wet sites. A good option for those who want a bit more colour from their seaside hedge. Holds the RHS award for garden merit.

We have several Ceanothus in our garden. We have planted them in our orchard which will attract insects when the apple blossom opens. Most ceanothus flower for around six weeks from late spring to early summer, although some bloom from July or August, and some varieties bear white or pink flowers. Ceanothus come in a range of sizes. When not in flower, their small, dark green leaves can act as an attractive foil for other plants. The flowers are attractive to pollinators- bees in particular. Grow ceanothus in moist but well-drained soil in full sun in a sheltered spot. Prune lightly in spring to maintain the plant’s shape.
Ceonothus are known as California lilacs, ceanothus are native to the Pacific coast of North America – California in particular. They are easy to grow in Ireland, as long as you give the conditions that they enjoy in their native habitat – a sunny, sheltered spot, and well-drained soil.
Most are evergreen; if your garden is exposed or in a cold area, choose a deciduous type that will be less susceptible to wind and frost damage in winter.
Ceanothus are fast-growing, long-flowering shrubs and as a result, can be short-lived – after around 10-15 years they may start to lose their shape and get rather leggy.
As they don’t respond well to hard pruning, it’s best to replace plants at this stage.

How to plant California lilac
Most ceanothus are best planted in spring. Dig a generous hole that is slightly larger than the rootball. If you are gardening on heavy soil, dig in some organic matter, such as garden compost or well-rotted manure. If you are planning to grow your ceanothus against a wall, add some trellis beforehand. Water in well and continue to water in warm weather while it establishes.

Contact James

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