For me cottage garden plants NEVER go out of fashion, but even if they move in and out of popularity with humans, many of them are forever loved by bees.
Here are 12 of my favourite cottage garden plants (and shrubs) to add to your garden border if you want to attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators.
African lily (Agapanthus)
Available in white or shades of blue, Agapanthus are a great option for cottage garden borders, but are also sufficiently striking to be used as a statement flower in key locations, owing to their fabulous leaf growth. A great addition to the garden, and attractive to bees.
Roses are surely a 'must have' in any cottage garden. I especially love old fashioned shrubs and ramblers, with delicious scent and open blooms. See my guidance on selecting roses for bees.
Watch as bees make their way around the tall flowering spikes. They can be prone too attack from slugs, however, so read my article about Lupins and how to protect them without using slug pellets.
No cottage garden would be complete with out a few herbs, and many herbs are excellent for bees. I find most people are aware that bees love lavender and oregano.
However. it seems fewer people consider thyme. Nowadays, thyme is one of my favourite herbs for bees.
Scientists have discovered that thyme provides bees with a variety of medicinal benefits, in addition to feeding bees with pollen and nectar. Learn more about this on my page about thyme.
Dahlias flower from summer through to the end of autumn. They are a favourite in cottage gardens and traditional borders, and loved by bees. Available in a wide range of shades and shapes. See Which Dahlias do bees Like?
Fabulous flowers in gorgeous shades of lilacs and blues, and loved by bees.
Who can resist hollyhocks? The bees definitely cannot! Tall stems, with beautiful open trumpet blooms in a variety of flowers provide lots of food (especially pollen) for bees.
Plume Thistle (Cirsium vulgare, Cirsium rivulare)
Having strong, upright stems, this member of the thistles is perfect for the cottage garden border.
Watch bees disappear into the deep funnels of foxglove flowers, then reappear covered in pollen. Please note, this plant is toxic to humans.
In a fabulous variety of colours, Echinacea are gorgeous flowers and are visited by bees and butterflies from mid summer onwards.
A fabulous scented climber loved by bees and humans alike. Can be added to scramble along a natural hedgerow, or up into trees of other supports. Read about honeysuckle.
Beautiful, open blowsy flowers which attract bees and a variety of other pollinators. Poppies are easy to grow from seed.
Of course, you don't need to live in a two hundred year old cottage with a vast flower border. With careful selection, cottage garden flowers can look great in small gardens, pots, and even geometric, modern flower beds.
See my pages on planning a bee friendly garden.