Echinops ritro is the ultimate fast food for bees, and you hardly ever see a flower in bloom without a bee feasting on it. Easy to grow, this hardy perennial prefers a sunny situation. After flowering I leave the seed heads for the birds, before cutting down to ground level.

Bumble bee on Echinops ritro

I love sedums, they grow so well in our garden and require little attention. This is a low-growing, evergreen sedum which the bees have been buzzing around all day. After flowering I cut off the dead flower heads and pull up some of the plant if it spreads too far.

Pink sedum

This is Echium vulgare or Viper’s Bugloss, a wildflower I grow in my garden because the bees and other insects just love the gorgeous blue flowers! It flowers for ages and self seeds prolifically – the seedlings are easily recognisable when small, so I thin out any in the wrong place to keep to a manageable level. A great addition to a cottage garden.

Wildflower: Echium vulgare ©Lavender Hedge

The lavender is at its peak right now. One of my favourite flowers and loved by the bees as well! It is easy to grow in a sunny border or container. I always like to dry some of the flowers for winter flower arrangements indoors. Just tie together some of the flower spikes and hang upside down until dry.

Lavender flower spike

This Giant Scotch Thistle stands majestically in the border at around nine feet tall and has just started to flower, which the bees will go made for! It is a biennial flower which will self seed readily. When I see the seedlings pop up I move them to where I want them to flower, usually at the back of a border where they are not going to attack passers-by (the leaves are very prickly!)

Onopordum acanthium

This is an easy to grow perennial flower for a sunny aspect, which flowers from early summer to well into the autumn. The clumps of Knautia (pronounced ‘naughtier’) do get large and sprawl about, so give them plenty of room. The crimson pompom flowers are a big hit with bees and butterflies and the seed heads are loved by the birds. It self-seeds prolifically and I often replace the large clumps with younger specimens. It can be affected by powdery mildew, however I simply cut back the stems and allow to re-grow.

Bumble Bee on Knautia macedonica flower

I grow Campanula medium, or Canterbury Bells, from seed and find they are best treated as a biennial flower, although sometimes they can be a short-lived perennial.  The colours range from white, through pale pink to purple. They are easy to grow from seed and in their second year the plants will reach 2-3 feet in height, with masses of flowers on each steam, which the bees absolutely adore. Dead-heading may produce a second flush of flowers, but not as profuse as the initial flowering.

Pale pink Campanula medium

This is a pretty little annual flower which is very easy to grow from seed and is ideal for hanging baskets or shady places. Each flower has five petals, each one with a deep blue spot at the tip – hence the name.  As you can see from this picture the bees love the flowers!

Bumble bee on Nemophila maculata Five Spot