Posts Tagged ‘Pollinators’

Another Plant which I cannot see myself ever doing without unless moving to a climate which it cannot thrive in is the Artichoke Plant ‘Cynara Cardunculus’ (there are a few varieties). My obsession with these came when I snapped a photo of one flower head which had around 9 or so bees on it alone!

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The plant has a pleasant ‘Silver Tone’ effect which covers Greys and Silvers in an ornamental bed (Perennials)

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Multiple Flower Heads ‘Cynara cardunculus’

A friend of mine says that his Grandparents in the past, used to cook  the young shoots in a type of stew / broth recipe in the South of France.
There is the famous ‘Globe Artichoke’ which is edible and the varieties I am mainly focusing on here which do not produce edible flower heads such as the latter, but are great for Bees and Pollinators.
The plants are Perennial and once established should last years, in colder Temperate regions these Herbaceous plants will die down in a cold Winter and re-sprout in Spring. I am classing the Ornamental Artichoke ‘Cynara Cardunculus’ as Semi / Beneficial with the Edible ‘Globe Artichoke’ Variety as a good Beneficial Plant (Multiple Uses / Purposes) in a Sustainable / Permaculture System (Edible parts, good Cash Crop if grown in bulk, Perennial, Medicinal uses as described below and Pollinator attractant / forage plant. Another point is the leaves produce good green waste for composting and the tall woody stems you will chop down in Winter are great biomass, can be used as canes, in Hugel Mounds / Hugelkultur etc.)

 

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Bees Love the Artichoke Plant ‘Cynara cardunculus’

The plants are used medicinally and the following is taken from WebMD:

” Artichoke is a plant. The leaf, stem, and root are used to make “extracts” which contain a high concentration of certain chemicals found in the plant. These extracts are used as medicine.

Artichoke is used to stimulate the flow of bile from the liver, and this is thought to help reduce the symptoms of heartburn and alcohol “hangover.” Artichoke is also used for high cholesterol, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), kidney problems, anemia, fluid retention (edema), arthritis, bladder infections, and liver problems.

Some people use artichoke for treating snakebites, preventing gallstones, lowering blood pressure, lowering blood sugar; to increase urine flow; and as a tonic or stimulant.

In foods, artichoke leaves and extracts are used to flavor beverages. Cynarin and chlorogenic acid, which are chemicals found in artichoke, are sometimes used as sweeteners.

Don’t confuse artichoke with Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus).

How does it work?

Artichoke has chemicals that can reduce nausea and vomiting, spasms, and intestinal gas. These chemicals have also been shown to lower cholesterol. ”

 

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‘Cynara cardunculus’ grown commercially

The plants can be propagated by root division, take an established plant in dormancy (Winter / end of Winter towards Spring), using a spade, you will merely slice into the center of the root crown and dig around this newly sliced section, taking as much of the root with you as possible with soil to transplant to a nursing bed or in its final location. A layer of mulch is always a good idea once placed as protection from frost to ensure survival of the new plant.

Growing a couple of these plants in your garden together with other local / native as well as non native Bee Friendly plants will be very helpful for our Bee friends as an important food supply, ensure you study the different flowering times so that you can ensure that you alway have a plant or two supplying them with pollen and nectar most of the year round. You can even place one plant in a semi / shaded spot and this plant will flower later on, its flowers will still be going when the other plant has already finished its flushes.

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I have termed this plant ‘Semi Beneficial’ mainly as it doesn’t really have many benefits when compared to my previous posts on beneficial Plants such as the Wild Teasel and Poached Egg Plant.

The main reason I am recommending Monk’s Hood is because it does show up on lists of plants that are ”good for bees” and I have luckily been able to observe this over a three year period, bees do swarm the plants and the best part is that the flowers are summer end when most plants have finished their flushes of flowers! It is perennial with bulb like roots and is related to delphinium, the difference being that some varieties grow the flowers closer together when compared with Delphinium which in my opinion is more attractive than the latter. The second reason is it really is an attractive plant with great ornamental potential!

Warning: The plant is highly toxic so be sure children are well aware!!

One benefit to it being so toxic (for people living in the countryside) is naturally, Deer and Rabbits etc. like to keep well away from them! So it is possible to have attractive flowering plants in your garden if you do suffer damage from Deer etc.

Monks Hood ( Aconitum carmichaelii ) aka Wolf-bane in flower

The plant is also known as Wolf-Bane, history says it was used to poison Wolves in the past

Monks Hood ( Aconitum carmichaelii ) in a mixed bed

The bees do absolutely love them! I am attempting to grow from seed at the moment, once I have a result I will give an update, these plants can cost quite a lot from a Nursery …

Wildlife Friendly Shrubs / Park Walkabout.

I took these photo’s sometime either this year or possibly in the Summer of 2013, I’m not entirely sure as I make an effort to visit both Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens at least twice a year (Summer and Autumn).
I was highly appreciative of the chosen Plant varieties I found in some locations, although I am not too sure if they are deliberately chosen for Wildlife or merely ornamental reasons, but I can commend the Royal Parks for what I came across.

Ceanothus (Common Name: California Lilac) makes a great shrub for pollinators

Ceanothus (Common Name: California Lilac) makes a great shrub for pollinators

I found large Ceanothus Shrubs (photo above), these shrubs are always covered in various bee species wherever I see them during the growing season, These shrubs in Hyde Park are most certainly the largest I have ever seen them growing! I sincerely hope they remain like that and not chopped back at some point …
Ceanothus appear on the list of recommended shrubs / plants for beneficial insects and pollinators for the local UK wildlife species.

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Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’ closeup

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Lavender and Perovskia Mixed Bed

A good 30 meters away there is a very well designed bed which hosts Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’ and Common Lavender (Both of which are very beneficial to pollinators) and of course they were covered in various bee species. This same bed also contained about 3-5 rose varieties, Magnolia Shrubs, Grasses, Purple Leaf Sage, Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla Mollis) and Various Bulbs … plus the smell was astounding!!!

Further away I found a nice Buddleja Davidii (also known as: Butterfly Bush) unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of that one! Fortunately, you can see many of them on the track sides when traveling London using the train system …

The people at Friends Of The Earth have information on the best varieties you can grow in your garden/s in the UK for our local species, check the site Here.