The past three summers we’ve had have been incredibly hot and dry by Belgian standards. Many naturally occurring nectar producing flowers, plants and trees are feeling the burden of the changed weather and are blooming earlier than usual, or not at all. The effect this has on honeybees is easy to see for a beekeeper. What this does to other pollinators is, in my opinion, something that will be studied and written about by biologists for years to come.
Because the habitat has deteriorated so drastically, I am adding more drought-proof plants.
Herbs, especially Mediterranean ones, have proven to do well in dry conditions. This year I’ve sown Greek basil in a pot. This basil is much shorter and has smaller leaves than the more common Genovese Italian basil, but it flowers for longer, and doesn’t become unusable in the kitchen once the flowers appear.
I purchased 2 varieties of Sedums, and I’m very happy with both the look of them, and with how strongly they attract pollinators. Because they are a succulent, they should do very well in dry, hot conditions.
Nepeta varieties do well in droughts, so I got some catnip. Unfortunately my cats are ignoring it. I really wanted some funny pictures. Nepeta can be found under many names, all with slightly different appearances.
I took a gamble getting a tray of Calamintha Nepeta plants. At the plant nursery, I saw these plants were popular with honeybees and bumblebees. When the plants are pruned, the new growth is dark-green with elegant little white flowers. Plants that arent pruned have dry-looking yellowish foliage. Bees don’t seem to prefer either one over the other.
It’s important not to forget what the natural state of the western-European climate is. We usually have a lot of rainfall, little sunlight, and moderate temperatures. This dry year may have been the last, or not. Some of my plantings might perish once the weather normalizes again, so I will stick to flowering plants that aren’t too far from what occurs here naturally. Hopefully my efforts will mean something by next year!