As annuals and perennials start to die back reducing the number of flowering plants, a good supply of pollen and nectar is still sought by bees and other insects. So what is gorgeous in the garden now giving colour, form, and potential pollen in October and November?
Asters, Michelmas Daisies
Asters are easy to grow, with daisy-like flowers that bloom brightly from late summer through to late autumn, providing a rich source of nectar and pollen for late season insects. They come in a wide variety of colours and sizes with Alpine varieties remaining compact and other varieties reaching up to 1m (3-4ft). Plant asters in dappled or partial shade, in any type of soil or even in containers. Deadhead plants to keep them looking good and to encourage more flowers. Cut aster plants back hard after flowering in late Autumn. They are disease and deer resistant.
Yarrow, Achillea millefolium
The yarrow plant is an herbaceous flowering perennial with white, sometimes pink flowers, clustered together in tight groups resembling flat umbrellas. Bees loves the open accessible pollen of these broad, flat flowers.
Technically a herb, yarrow can also be grown happily in flower beds, needing little care and only needing to be watered during times of severe drought.
Heucheras are shade-loving plants, grown for their gorgeous foliage in a huge range of colours from reds and purples to vivid greens and silvers which work work well in winter displays. Heucheras bear attractive flowers in summer loved by pollinating insects. Plant heucheras in moist but well-drained soil in dappled shade; heucheras will not tolerate water-logged conditions. Heucheras make excellent ground cover plants growing roughly 20cm to 50cm high (8in to 20in) with a spread of 60cm.
Smoke bush, Cotinus ‘Grace’
Smoke bushes are fully hardy shrubs which put on spectacular autumn colour in the garden. There are green and purple-leafed forms, both of which are covered in summer with a smoky haze of soft, open flower plumes from where the common name smoke bush arises.
Cotinus ‘Grace’ is a purple-leafed smoke bush, bearing a showy display of pink-purple flowers in summer which are highly attractive to honey bees and other pollinators, followed in autumn by a change of leaf colour to purple-orange-red. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM). Grow Continus ‘Grace’ in well-drained fertile soil in full sun or partial shade. It requires little or no pruning which makes it easy to grow.