What do bees do during the searing hot summer months in the southwestern USA and other parts of the world where earth is a desert and water is scarce?
Xeriscape gardening has evolved over time and is an attractive way to landscape your property without a demanding carpet of green grass or plants that need a lot of watering.
If you decide to keep a ‘lawn’ even though living in drought conditions, it is advisable to let white or red clover run wild in the grass. It keeps the grass green and bees love it. Or to be a little different, for an aromatic lawn, cover the area with low growing thyme instead of grass.
If your land has character, with natural rock walls, ledges, slabs, natural rocks or stones, all of this can add to the beauty of your finished garden. Pea gravel, flagstones, landscape fabric, wood chippings or paving adds more enhanced surface to create around. Rocks can help manage drainage and flagstones can be buried to make fascinating stepping-stones. Mix it up with rocks of different colors and textures and position them so they are angled. Play with bursts of color, texture, size and shape when choosing plants, and use bricks, wood pieces from old trees, driftwood, seashells, vases, flowerpots, subtle solar lights, old metal decorations and more to design your unique garden. Use your imagination to create a bee oasis that pleases the eye and grows bounteous blooms to please desert bees.
Here's a 3:13-minute video about the basics of Xeriscaping:
What xeriscaping is not: do not remove all plants, leaving only bare pavement and rocks without natural growth, or you will add to climate problems and overheat your property and bees will find no nectar or pollen in your garden.
There are many desert plants for bees and other pollinators that withstand drought and provide them with exactly what they need. So, fear not, your dry garden need not be dull, and your planting options are not limited. You can even create a lush looking lawn with plants that are low-water maintenance.
Nature always provides for the conditions at hand and certain species will thrive anywhere. Plants in various forms, colors and textures can be combined, and the effect will be nothing short of visually stunning.
Three types of plants that thrive in dry or desert conditions are herbs, succulents and wildflowers. They all attract bees and you won't have to be out watering plants daily when the temperature in dry desert locations gets intense. Choose hardy plants that endure and are happy with little watering.
Here are some low-water plants that bees find irresistible.
Achillea millefolium (yarrow), Alyssum wildflowers, Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa), a shrubby native or wild rose that is a member of the rose family, Beach Aster, Beach Rose (Rosa rugosa), Bee Balm (Monarda “Jacob Kline”), drought resistant and hardy, low maintenance, Bird’s-foot trefoil, Bugle (Ajuga), Candy Tuft, Catmint (Nepeta), Ceanothus repens, Cornflower, Cosmos flowers, Deadnettle, Eryngium (Sea Holly), Euphorbias are rugged, and the honey-aroma of Euphorbia mellifera drives bees crazy, like catnip does to cats, Goldenrod (Solidago), Helianthemum (Rock rose), Phacelia (Scorpion weed), Pink Lamb’s Ear (Stachys lavandulifolius), Poppies, Selfheal, Teasels, Thistles, Toad Flax, Verbascum (Mullein), Yellow Evening Primrose
Succulents, including sedums, creeping sedum and sempervivums, cacti, onion (Allium) variety Corkscrew Blue Twister, Tomatoes.
Flowering culinary herbs: lavender, thyme, oregano (Origanum or Marjoram), rosemary, sage, salvia (another sage).
Fragrant flowering fruit trees that require little water are bee winners too, like Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) and coral honeysuckle (Lonicera semperivirens).
Why plant a xeriscape garden? For a low maintenance garden that helps with water conservation, for an exotic and unique garden look and… for the bees! Not only do they pollinate two-thirds of your crops but gardens that produce bee-loving flowers from early spring through late autumn help keep local bee populations thriving.
Where to acquire these drought-resistant plants? Check with your local nursery.
Have you got a desert garden? Tell us about it over on our Facebook page!