That's why they call it the blues

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Gardening for wildlife

Follow the adventures of Adrian Thomas, our wildlife gardening expert, and be inspired to create your own wildlife haven on your doorstep. Adrian posts here every Monday and Friday without fail, so make it a date and drop by!

That's why they call it the blues

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I've been trying my own little trials this year of annual seed mixes to see if I can grow a better mix for pollinators. The traditional 'native cornfield mix' of Field Poppy, Corncockle, Corn Marigold and Corn Chamomile can be beautiful, but it doesn't exactly buzz with life.

So I wanted to inject a bit more of some choice pollinator annuals - Borage, lots more Cornflowers, and my beloved Scorpionweed, whose Latin name is Phacelia tanacetifolia if you prefer to get your mouth around that. All are on the blue and violet end of the spectrum, which many bee species in particular are known to prefer.

Here it is, Phacelia, barely two quid for a big packet of seeds (look for the packets sold as green manure). All it takes is to prepare the ground, chuck the seed down, a couple of waters in dry weather, and eight weeks later there it is unfurling day by day its scorpion-tail of lilac flowers.

Sure enough, it did what it was supposed to for bees, here a Honeybee from someone's local hive.

The Borage played its part, too. It is quite a robust plant for an annual, but I love it.

But I can't deny that the blue Cornflower (centre top in the photo below) and the fabulous Echium 'Blue Bedder' (bottom left) are the blues I really adore, and what's more they're great for pollinators too. Mixed in with a range of more typical cornfield annuals, the annual bed zings as well as buzzes. 

Adrian will be giving a talk at the British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland this Sunday at 4pm, with loads of time for questions and chatting, too.

  • Hi Adrian, one of your posts of you setting up a water butt had a reader respond that they fitted a very large one. I cannot work out how to get in touch - I would like to fit a much larger water butt but the only ones I found on the internet were a ridiculous price. Please could you help?

    Many thanks, Nathalie,