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Follow our progress as beekeepers, running the nursery, creating our own bee-haven and conducting research into the best plants for bees

Wallflowers- early colour and nectar

Native wallflower - cheiranthus cheiri self-seeded by my kitchen door

Native wallflower - cheiranthus cheiri self-seeded by my kitchen door

Wallflowers (erysimum famility formerly cheirathus) start flowering from March and some, notably 'bowles mauve' keep flowering all summer.  Their colours a range of warm tones from pinky-purples through rustic oranges and reds to bright yellows.

They are often grown almost as a single season plant; sown one year then dug up with and allowed to become semi-dry and sold as a tied bunch of tap roots to be planted in autumn or spring to provide vivid bedding flower for a year.

This method of growing provides masses of colour but is quite a lot of work. I prefer to grow them as short-lived shrub and find that if you cut them back after flowering ( or mid-season for 'bowles mauve' because it doesnt finish flowering until late) you get 3 or 4 years our of them before they get too woody to look attractive.

Some, including the native 'cheiri' - pictured above - self seed quite easily so if you are careful with our weeding the plant generates its own successors. This picture is or one that managed to seed itself into a crack in the paving just by my kitchen door and I am currently happily enjoying it everytime I go past.

For the bees, these early flowerers provide nectar and attract honey bees, bumble bees and some solitary bees; not necessarily in large numbers but over many weeks so the value is there.

erysimum 'bowles mauve' just after it started flowering in March

erysimum 'bowles mauve' just after it started flowering in March

by rosi