Pollination by insects plays vital role in fruit crops

We cannot ignore the special relationship between insects, fruit bushes and trees.

Saturday, 5th March 2016, 10:17 am

Nutritious crops we pick from early summer onwards are all down to the pollinators.

Bush fruits are first to bloom in this garden – black, red and white currants alongside gooseberries – nothing spectacular by way of colour but inviting enough for the bees to home in.

They are closely followed by flowers across the strawberry and raspberry beds.

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Pear and apple trees bloom next with spectacular impact.

There’s even a contribution of surprisingly large flowers from a thornless blackberry Loch Ness.

Mainstream summer follows with a cacophony of colour and greater selection of flowering plants than we can fit into one garden.

Choice must surely guide us towards those that attract the most insect species and flower longest.

The Garden Organic organisation recommended a top five list in recent times. This comprised lavender, comfrey, raspberry, foxglove and lungwort.

It fell in line with observations of each in my garden, but a few competitors could be added.

Oregano, echinacea, penstemon, thyme, scabious, helenium and rudbeckia also attract bee and butterfly species over the long summer period until sedum spectabile and Michaelmas daisies appear on the scene.

There is still time to find any of these herbaceous perennials at a garden centre and get them settled in before spring growth begins.

Hardy annual flowers remain the least expensive way to fill a border with summer colour. Several of them are also irresistible to bees and butterflies.

At an average price of £2.50 each, a packet of seed sown in narrow rows should fill an area one metre square.

Hoe out early weeds and the rows eventually merge, with flowering from June to October according to type.

Clarkia, calendula, nasturtium, cornflower, rudbeckia, cosmos, chrysanthemum and limnanthus are bankers for attracting our favourite insects.