Full Sun patch for bees

(Question)

I have a 3ft by 8ft patch in my side yard with full sun exposure (no neighbour on that side) and a brick wall as backing. It was used as a veggie patch but we are away in the summer too often to keep it viable. I want to plant some perennials or shrubs that will support bees and maybe provide some “bounty”. The soil is good and drains well (too well?) but I was hoping not to have to water it very often. I was thinking maybe thyme, then blueberries then a flower like echanacea (front to back). Will this work? Other suggestions?

(Answer)

 

Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.

Redesigning your space to meet your needs makes sense. As you are away often you need a design that requires very little care. The plants will need to drought tolerant as you say the area is very well drained and you are not around to water. With the brick wall radiating heat and full sun the garden will get quite hot.

Native plants like Echinacea are native to Ontario and very resilient. Thyme is also a good choice as it can survive through drought and is a sturdy plant with edible results.

The Blueberries however will require more care. Blueberries need a very acidic soil to grow. In Toronto we do not have the correct balance to grow them properly.The soil will need to be amended to lower the acidity and will require you to continue adding amendments every year as the soil will always tend back towards its natural pH over time. An alternative to blueberry could be red currents, Ribes rubrum. These do not require soil pH amendment and once established rarely require watering. Currents are wonderful to use in sauces and with desserts.

When redesigning your garden it is important to make sure you have enough organic matter in the soil. This is your chance to add compost and extra soil if you need it. Your local nursery should be able to recommend which amendments to buy .  Once planted if you use mulch over the garden , the garden will retain moisture longer and discourage weed growth. This will help keep maintenance down especially when you are away.

I am including several links from our website for you below. One is on amendments for Blueberries and the others on plants that will attract bees and other pollinators to your garden. These should give you ideas to go with your Echinacea and thyme.

I hope this helps.

https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/grow-your-own/fruit/redcurrants

Butterfly/bee gardens

 

Soil pH amendments for blueberries

Pollinator Garden: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide