The Blooms for Bees flower border was designed to provide food and habitat for bumblebees and other wildlife (see Designing the Blooms for Bees border), but we also wanted to make sure that the act of creating the border had as little environmental impact as possible. We were able to raise quick-maturing annuals like Viper’s Bugloss (Echium vulgare) and Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis) on-site ourselves, using organic seed and organic, peat-free compost in reused pots, but there wasn’t time to grow slower maturing perennial plants for a show of flowers the same year.
Plant raising can be a resource intensive process. Many of the plants on sale in the UK are treated with a range of artificial fertilisers (the manufacture of which has a considerable carbon footprint and they can be detrimental to soil life) and pesticides (which are harmful to bees and other insects), so we set about finding plant nurseries selling organically certified plants. These plants are raised in a more considerate way and not treated with substances harmful to foraging bees or the wider environment. There is only a handful of organic plant suppliers in the UK and two of these (Bee Happy Plants and Caves Folly Nurseries) specialise in pollinator-friendly, herbaceous plants. Between the two companies we were able to find a really good range of flowers – most of the plants from our wish list, or very similar alternatives.
The border is now establishing nicely and plants with spreading root systems such as sneezeweed and bergamot are forming noticeably bigger clumps, ready for a riot of flowers next year.
To find plants with organic certification for your own garden, see our list of Soil Association certified suppliers. There is also a growing number of nurseries who may not have organic certification, but are choosing to work to more sustainable principles by not using pesticides and rejecting environmentally damaging peat-based composts in favour of the ever improving alternatives. It is a good idea to visit local nurseries and ask how they raise their plants – they tend to be smaller businesses, so individual customers are important to them and they are happy to answer questions and talk about the plants they’ve grown.