I used to go to Wisley regularly but life has been so busy since we started rosybee that we have not been for a few years. Its still magnificent and, in August, the mixed borders are a mature mass of colour. These borders are exactly why we chose to visit now, as I needed a resource where a really wide variety of plants are grown in large enough clumps to ensure being attractive to whatever pollinators they naturally attract.
So the object was to effectively audit the borders from a pollinators perspective and
- note which plants had lots of bees or other insects
- note which plants - in full flower - where not attracting insects
From this I wanted to see if there were some additional plants that we should include in the stock range at rosybee and also, to see how the plants at Wisley appeared compared to our research findings regarding bee-attraction.
We had a very enjoyable 3 hours but viewing plants from the bees perspective makes for a very different visitor experience; my eyes quickly tuned into spotting the bees and I found I was zooming along the border past the 70% of plants with little activity to stop where the bees were partying.
The good news is that we already stock most of the best plants for bees and we found a few more we need to now research: japanese anemone, eupatorium and some helianthus are all worth investigating further.
We also found two areas where the absence of insects was very clear. On was the bedding plant and pots displays - not a surprise but a reminder of what a waste of area they are for pollinators. But the other area was the new meadow area which does contain some pollinator-friendly plants but, as always in such planting from seed mixes, these are so diluted by grass and other less attractive plants that the bees were only occasional.
The star plants were the sedums and heleniums, particularly in the Piet Oudolf borders which were each attracting around 8 bees per square meter.