(Trachystemon orientalis)

Keep your garden buzzing with the soothing sound of bees

Don’t be put off by the botanical name of this plant. It is also known as perennial, or oriental borage and that’s a very fair description of this plant. It has clusters of soft mauve and white flowers that look very much like borage flowers with the petals turned back. Any early emerging bees are attracted to its blooms and you can often hear the plants buzzing with activity in the depths of winter.

It’s closely related to borage and it’s a fantastic winter flowering source of nectar for bees. To be honest it rarely features on bee plant lists and that’s a real puzzle because it’s a good garden doer if you have the space. The best thing about this plant is that it flowers as the Queen bumblebees start to emerge, offering a vital nectar when there is little else in flower.

It flowers when there are few other things in flower in the garden and depending on the weather it can start to flower anytime from December through to March. Plus it’s a perennial so once you’ve planted it; it will come up year after year. The only downside is that it does spread, which if you have a small garden it might not be the best choice for your plot, but you could grow it in a large planter. Keep it under control by dividing it regularly and sharing the divisions with other bee-loving gardeners.

Image: Martin Mulchinock

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