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Menu Planning for Wildlife

Menu Planning for Wildlife

Autumn Crocus speciosus ‘Conqueror’

Planting bulbs is rather like waiting for a bus. After a seemingly endless lull, four seasons’ worth of bulbs arrive at once. Late winter, spring and summer bloomers all need planting at around the same time as autumn crocus corms are screaming to get into the soil so that they can burst into flower; a feat they accomplish with astonishing haste.

Last month I focused on bulbs and corms for late winter and spring. There should be plenty of forage available for pollinators in summer, but flowering bulbs still have a valuable contribution to make to the lives of pollinating insects.

Whether bobbing above other plants in our gardens, making a power statement en masse, or nestling low towards the front of the border, alliums have much to offer to everyone gardening with wildlife in mind. Alliums can be excellent value for a variety of wildlife and are capable of making a strong statement in our borders across the seasons. Their contribution goes beyond the flowers; the architectural seedheads provide shelter for minibeasts. In our garden the seedheads last all winter long. If one gets knocked over, I simply stick it back into the soil.

Allium 'Ambassador'

Allium 'Mont Blanc'

The best performers in our garden this year were Allium ‘Ambassador’ and Allium ‘Mont Blanc’. These are no shrinking violets. Allium ‘Ambassador’ has great globes of tightly packed purple flowers atop 120cm high stems. Allium ‘Mont Blanc’ is slightly taller at 130cm, and the flowers are creamy white. These two alliums bloomed for weeks, were smothered in bees, and were commented on by every visitor to our garden.


Camassia quamash

Camassia look wonderful naturalised in grass. I grow them in a border next to common land. That said, I think they would look wonderful in almost any setting. They are such gentle, yet strikingly beautiful flowers and watching bees working them is utterly absorbing. I mentioned in my May post that I planned to add to the number of Camassia in our garden. As I write, the bulbs await my attention in a box beneath my desk. I feel so guilty about them sitting there that I will head outside to plant them as soon as this post is finished. I suspect that the addition of more Camassia, both in number and variety, will be an annual event as my fondness for them grows each year.

Many moons ago I grew lilies, but my enjoyment of having them in the garden was marred by lily beetle. In spite of this, I have decided to grow Lilium martagon. Although martagon lilies are nectar-rich, I can find little evidence of them attracting pollinators so I have decided to grow them to see how they fare. What is the worst thing that can happen? I get to enjoy their flowers, the pollinators aren’t interested and ah yes… lily beetle.

Time to head outside with those Camassia bulbs. Which bulbs will you be planting for pollinators?


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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