Do you live in a part of the world where water is one of the causes of trees dying and gardens failing? Does it govern what you can plant? Welcome to the club everyone belongs to! Most of the world, however, has a problem with not getting enough water! If you live in an area where this scenario is reversed, you should be aware of how strange the position you are in is.
As a beekeeper, I am responsible for helping nature restore itself in our densely populated western Europe. So, the context of marshland and water-logged soils are the most defining elements of what I plant to help the pollinators in my area. Sadly, Robinia trees do not like waterlogged soils! I will list below what I plant to provide for the pollinators!
When I get to give advice to a friend who is moving onto a new piece of land, one of the first things we discuss is; how do we get rid of all this water! We plant trees for the specific purpose of their needing a lot of water. Typical for our Flemish countryside are the rows of knotted willow trees that line fields, ditches and roads. These trees take a lot of water out of the ground and their roots stabilize the soil when it’s very moist, making them incredibly useful. Willow trees are a very limited source of nectar for honeybees, but they do provide a good amount of early pollen, necessary for raising brood in early spring.
An example of a useful field for both pollinators and herbivores. White clover can grow abundantly when grass isn’t mown very often. It is a useful food for anyone who keeps rabbits and I’ve discovered that ducks love white clover too. A sizable area of white clover will provide a very good source of nectar for your bees! As long as the ground remains moist, the plants will produce nectar in abundance.
I prefer to remove buttercups from my grassy areas, as they can easily take over a large patch and spread to places where you do not want them; the vegetable garden. You will find many interesting varieties of wildflowers will start to grow on a field when it isn’t mown often or over-fertilized. Many kinds will be specific to your area and will sprout voluntarily from your native soil.
In particularly marshy areas, the edges of ditches or ponds, purple loosestrife (lythrum salicaria) can provide an abundant source of nectar to pollinators and a splendid display of color to our human eyes. In the Dutch and Flemish countryside, the bright-purple flowers are seen commonly during the months of May, June, July and August! Although this plant is native in Europe, it is an invasive species in parts of North America and New Zealand.
On to an invasive species in my area: Impatiens Glandilufera. Native to the Himalayas, this plant feels perfectly at home on the sides of ditches and rivers. During the months of August and September this plant provides bees with pollen and nectar, and because of it’s timing it is of vital aid in helping our bees prepare for winter successfully. Personally, I think it’s a beautiful plant with lovely flowers and I love it for what it does for our pollinators. But I hate the smell! As soon as it blooms it seems to spread a scent, far and wide, that reminds me of what a neglected fishpond can smell like.