Next time you're here to shop or to attend the Fall Festival, stop by our Perennials Department and just listen to the buzz of bumblebees. And no worries about getting stung - they're know as the gentle giants of the bee world and indeed they don't notice humans unless we're threatening their hives. When they're busy feeding they ignore us.
The plants attracting the most bumblebees and smaller honeybees, too, are these asters and agastaches, which are also great at attracting butterflies and hummingbirds earlier in the season. And they're in bloom now, when few other plants are putting on a show.
Asters are a large group of plants, but several are native to our region, including the varieties shown here. They're also drought-tolerant and long-lived. These cultivars are exceptionally easy to grow, mildew-resistant, and they stay compact - about 18 inches high. Both are gorgeous paired with ornamental grasses, which bloom around the same time. They benefit from being cut back by half sometime in early summer but before July 4 (don't want to remove their buds!)
Oh, and they're deer-resistant, too.
Agastaches are a perennial that's becoming increasingly popular in our region for their many great qualities, starting with their obvious beauty and their role in feeding our favorite critters - pollinators, butterflies and hummingbirds (in my garden they're the only plant that's consistently attracted hummingbirds). Native to parts of the Southwest, it's no surprise that they're very drought-tolerant. With longer droughts being experienced in England, the Brits are increasingly using Agastaches, too - especially since the Royal Horticultural Society awarded them a special recognition.
Agastaches, also known as Anise hyssop, have an unusually long bloom season, from July until mid to late autumn. Their stems are nice and strong, so there's no need to cut back to prevent flopping. They're pest- and disease-resistant and great in bouquets. I've devoted a considerable part of my new small garden to them because really, what's not to love?