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On the menu for... August 2017

Some flowers just keep on giving. Christmas hyacinths are putting on an unseasonal summer show; Aubrieta has been blooming since spring; and there is so much on offer for pollinators that I will focus on just a handful of plants with additional qualities.

In June I mentioned Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’. It is still flowering its socks off, but this month I want to sing the praises of Scabiosa columbaria subsp. ochroleuca. Like ‘Butterfly Blue’ it has a long flowering period - pollinators will still be enjoying its blooms in October, as will I. It is a dainty plant with masses of delicate primrose flowers held aloft grey-green filigree foliage by wiry stems. Despite its appearance, this is a tough plant. It will shrug off autumn storms, torrential rain and in my garden, even the rabbits won’t mess with it.

Of all the Michaelmas daisies - those with and without their new names - my favourite is Aster amellus ‘Veilchenkönigin’. I like it because it is short (around 35-40cm), stocky, and will withstand heavy rain and wind. I never feel the need to stake it, and it makes a reliably upstanding herbaceous hedge. I use it like I would lavender, to edge paths. Bees and butterflies love it, and after it flowers I leave the stalks in situ until the following spring to offer shelter to minibeasts.

Aster amellus ‘Veilchenkönigin’

Cynara cardunculus

Scabiosa columbaria subsp. ochroleuca


I also leave the seed heads on Cynara cardunculus as they attract flocks of marauding finches and provide valuable shelter for minibeasts. Bees on the flowers of this cardoon always look a little inebriated and incapable of staggering home. It makes them a little easier to photograph!

Our herb garden is small, but it attracts astonishing numbers of bumblebees at this time of year because I allow shrubby herbs to flower. Every August I am amazed at the quantity of bees on just one little Origanum.

There is still so much to look forward to, and it appears that the bees cannot wait. Although not quite flowering, Sedum is smothered in bees. It is as if they are impatiently knocking on the closed door of the best bar in town. Perhaps I should point them in the direction of the cardoon saloon.

I am always interested to read about the flowers attracting pollinators in other gardeners’ gardens. Please let me know if you have a plant that you recommend.


Posted by Sarah Shoesmith

Sarah Shoesmith is a garden writer who blogs at .
She may be contacted via or @gardeningshoe1 on Twitter

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