Frequently asked questions

What is the best colour of flowers for bees?

Bees are particularly attracted to blue, violet, purple white and yellow flowers.

Can I make a hive so we can have bees in the garden?

You can buy bumble bee nest boxes, but we wouldn’t recommend them. Research has proved that bees prefer to make their own homes. You would be better spending the money on a lavender bush (which you won’t be able to keep the bees off) or better still plant a lavender hedge. We have them all over the nursery and the bees love them.

Where are bees in the cold winter months?

Honeybees will be in their hives and the beekeeper will be taking care of them. For other types of bees only the Queen hibernates through the winter. They will normally burrow into the ground for the cold months, emerging in the warmer Spring months to start the hive again.

Do bees have a nose?

Instead of a nose, bees have antenna with thousands of tiny sensors that detect smells – just like a nose.

Can I buy food for the bees?

The only food source for any bees are the pollen and nectar contained within the plants. The best advice we can give is to ensure you have plants in flower from February right through to November.

Do bees need water?

Yes, they do. A common cause of death in bees is dehydration. Bees can’t use large expanses of water such as ponds as they can’t swim; same applies for bird baths. If you want to provide a water source for bees, then use a shallow dish and fill it with stones or small pebbles. The water will gather in the dish and the bees will be able to land on the stones / pebbles without the fear of drowning. We place many of these around our glasshouse and nursery and the bees love them.

Will bees come back every year?

Generally, it is only the Queen that will survive the winter so is the only one to return; she will hibernate in the soil emerging in the Spring. Often, a nest will only be used for one year however if the nest is in good condition it may be used year after year.

Can bees talk to each other?

While bees do not talk to each other they communicate through dances, vibrations, and body chemical signals. The scout bees will pass essential information to the workers about new pollen, nectar and water sources.

Where do bees live?

That really depends on the bee. Honey bees live in hives that are made by the beekeepers so they can collect the honey. Bumble bees will make their own nests and can often be found in sheds under the house and in lofts. How long the nest will be there depends on the species. Some are as short as a few weeks, others will be there all summer. Species like the tree bumble bee will be found in trees and then solitary bees can make nests in bamboo canes and other will nest in the ground.

I have children and I don’t want them stung. What do I do?

Unlike wasps, bees will only sting when they sense danger. Bees are attracted to smells and flowers. Dressing children in floral print will attract bees however once they realise the flower is not real they will move on. Avoid strong perfume and suntan lotion or hair products with strong scents. Remember if a bee stings it dies, so it will only do so as a last resort.

How many different types of bees are there?

Around 20,000 worldwide that are separated into seven families. In the UK we have around 270 species of bees that have been recorded.

Why do I need different pollinators?

Not all plants are pollinated by the same type of pollinator. Plants that produce a strong evening scent such as jasmine and honeysuckle rely on moths to pollinate as the other pollinators do not fly much in the evening or at all in the dark. The shape and form of the flower will also determine which pollinator will visit.

Why do I need bees in my garden?

Without bees plants will not be pollinated and we would have fewer flowers. They also pollinate fruit and veg so, if you enjoy growing your own, you need the bees!

Neonicotinoids – what are they and do you use them?

Neonicotinoids (neonics) are mostly commonly used in farming where they are applied as seed coatings for crops such as oilseed rape. Many studies have linked these chemicals to the decline in our pollinator population. In horticulture neonics can be found in pesticides and insecticides that are used to keep the plants free from attack and disease. You may yourself even be using items that contain neonics as they are in products such as Bayer Ultimate Bug Killer. Sadly, some growers will be selling plants as “bee friendly” that have been treated with neonics, so not bee friendly at all! As neonics are systemic – meaning they can be taken up by the roots of the plants and translocated to their leaves, flowers and pollen, they affect the entire plant and in turn the pollinator. WE DO NOT USE ANY SUCH PRODUCTS ON THE NURSERY.

What is your favourite plant?

Being passionate about plants, that’s the hardest question for us to answer. Let's break it down into three sections: plants, herbs and cut flowers. John says Achillea millefolium Summer Wine is just divine. Any achillea will work hard in the garden but the deep wine colour of this variety will pop in any garden. Origanum Country Cream is a great form or Oregano creates a carpet of wonderful scented pale-yellow leaves - edible and beautiful. Dahlia Café au Lait for a cut flower is big showy and lasts for around 10 days in the vase. Hugh says Hydrangea paniculata Pinky Winky - this form of hydrangea has big conical flowers that the bees love. They start a pure white and in Autumn turn a hue of pink. Ocimum kilmandscharicum x basilicum ‘Dark Opal’ or African Blue Basil is an amazing herb, sadly tender but worth buying every year for the colour and texture. The leaves and flowers can be eaten, and the stems of the plant look dramatic too. Nigella or Love in a mist is Hugh's all time favourite flower. Gorgeous delicate blue and white flowers in mid spring and the seed heads look fabulous right through to winter and are saved and dried for his Christmas wreaths.

How can I stop pests in my garden without chemicals?

In all cases, no matter the pest there is a way to deal with the problem and not reach for the chemicals. With most pests you can introduce a biological control, in other words adding something to feed on the pest that will not have an adverse effect on the garden. Every year we buy ladybirds for our glasshouses just as we start to see the first signs of aphids. The ladybirds will make quick work of the aphids. Sadly, once the aphids have all been eaten the lady birds will move on. Spraying your plants with garlic will also deter aphids. For slugs use nematodes which are watered into the soil and will eat the eggs and larvae of the slugs. We have a very large pond in the garden and being in Lincolnshire have dykes around the nursery; this means we have lots of frogs. They help us keep slugs at bay and we keep little pockets of damp patches in the glasshouse to encourage them.

I have moved and have a new garden. So what do I do first?

Top tip, irrigation. No matter how dedicated, life can get in the way at times so make things easy for yourself and invest in an irrigation set for your garden. If plants are watered at the same time each day they will always look better than those watered irregularly.

Should I feed plants?

Yes, all plants will thank you for a feed even if it just a yearly mulch. The type of feed to use will depend on the plant. Try to only use an organic feed such as liquid seaweed or alpaca fertiliser which is what we use at the nursery. Plant feed is available on this site.

Do you have any tips or techniques for planting?

With most plants dig a much bigger whole than the pot so that you can add some grit or manure into the planting hole. Always ensure that the plant is securely planted so it's not rocked in the wind and watch out for air pockets in the planting hole.

If I want lots of pollinators should I sow wildflowers in my garden?

Please don’t, unless you are doing a wildflower meadow and have the space for it. Wildflowers are amazing but they will take over the garden and smother your other plants. They also tend to grow in ways that make the beds look messy. Think of using more edible plants for ornamental purposes, such as herbs and fruit bushes; the pollinators will love you for it.

I have tried planting bulbs but they never seem to come back a second year why?

Sadly a lot of the bulbs available now are so mass produced that they are designed to only last one year (although not sold that way). Avoid spending lots on tulips and hyacinths and instead go for daffodils, muscari and alliums and they will give you years of pleasure. Also make sure you add lots of grit to your potting hole so that the bulbs are not sitting in wet soil.

I only have mint in my herb garden what am I doing wrong?

Mint must be containerised otherwise it will take over any area it is planted with and you will eventually lose the other plants. Mint is quite happy in pots but don’t plant more than one type of mint in the same pot otherwise the flavours will muddle.

What are good starter plants for amateurs?

Herbs are easy to grow and rewarding as you can eat them! Evergreen shrubs are also a good place to start and if you are starting a garden from scratch, you should plant your evergreens first.

What size of plant should I buy?

Again size does matter. Plants with larger root balls will take to their new positions faster. However, if you have heavy soil and find it difficult to dig big holes then plants in small pots will suit you better. All our plants will be well rooted whichever pot size you choose.

What’s a low maintenance plant?

All plants require maintenance, even those sold as drought tolerant will need watered regularly when they are first planted and all plants require water at some point. If you want to have plants that require little maintenance it is best to contact us first so we can guide you through the process, as the suitability of plants will depend on your location, aspect and budget.

Do you monitor your carbon footprint?

Most definitely. We wash and reuse all plastic pots. Our plant waste is either turned to compost via HotBins or, incinerate if diseased. We use very little plastic in our packaging and try to only use recyclable products. We save rainwater from around the nursery and have a water storage tank that holds 10,000 litres. Our vehicles are blue efficiency.

How do I know your prices are competitive?

We will never compare prices with supermarkets and large DIY stores. Those are mass produced and like comparing apples to oranges. We do however check our prices against other independent nurseries and boutique garden centres. Size does matter, as often we will sell a plant in a 2-litre pot for the same price that most would charge you one in a 9cm pot. Remember the bigger and healthier the root ball, the better the plant.

How do I know your plants will be of good quality?

All of our plants are tended to by hand. In the warmer months we use an automatic irrigation system so that plants receive the correct amount of water at the same time each day. We exhibit at many of the main flower shows where quality is of utmost importance. We sell the same plants at the nursery, online and at the shows and fairs that we attend.

Are you organic?

We are not certified organic (it costs around £10k for the license). However we use organic methods throughout the nursery.

Still have questions? Contact us leave a comment