Updated: 21st February 2020
In creating a flower border for bees and pollinators, it's not only important to provide nectar and pollen through the seasons, you should ideally include a variety of different flower and petal shapes and types. In this way, your flower border can provide for the differing needs of bees with long or short tongues and different flower preferences, as well as assist other pollinators.
Here is a guide to 6 key shapes to look out for.
In this group are flowers such as campanulas, English bluebell, foxgloves and convolvulus.
These include flowers such as geraniums, poppy, rosa rugosa, cherry blossom, brambles, and daisy-type members of the asteraceae family.
In this group we have flowers such as willow catkins and ivy.
Deep flowers’ such as honeysuckle, iris, sage, snap dragon, Lamiaceae, such as Stachys
byzantina (lamb's ear) - a favourite of mine for attracting not only
bumble bee species, but also wool carders;
This group includes the pea family (Fabaceae), such as lupine, wisteria, beans, clover, bird’s foot trefoil; and restharrow.
Examples include verbena, buddleia, teasels, scabiosa, knapweed, hebe, heathers. Some blossoms are a combination of bell and tube shape – such as viper’s bugloss.
There are some who believe that wildlife gardening literally means allowing the garden to become wild and unmanaged.
I suspect this comes from the general advice to wildlife gardeners: 'don't be too tidy' - and perhaps taking that advice to the extreme. However, in my experience, leaving a garden to simply go wild will not always bring the best results in terms of attracting more wildlife and especially pollinators. There are many factors to consider in such an approach. This is where careful selection of plants comes in, and consideration given to flower shape.
For most people with a garden - and especially a small plot, I believe it is far better to plan your garden with pollinators in mind if your aim is to assist them. I have tried the 'wild garden' approach, followed by the deliberate creation of flower borders with carefully selected plants. The planned approach has brought more wildlife - and especially bees - to the garden.
Here are some wonderful examples of flower borders for bees, incorporating a variety of flower shapes.