Make a One-Stop Shop for Bees

Take a leaf out of writer and gardener Alex Mitchell's brand new book The Rurbanite and try your hand at one of her satisfying garden projects, which you can complete in under an hour...

Photograph: Sarah Cuttle

Make a One-Stop Shop for Bees

This project not only looks fantastic on a balcony, patio or roof terrace, but in just one container it provides nectar and pollen for bees all year round. If you can't find a galvanised bathtub, try using a rubber tubtrug (widely available in supermarkets), a trough or a half barrel.

you will need...

• 1 large container such as an old galvanised bath, tubtrug or half barrel, about 80cm x 60cm and at least 30cm deep

• a hellebore

• a trailing rosemary (Rosmarinus prostratus)

• 15 crocus bulbs

• a lavender plant

• a trailing thyme

• a trailing oregano

• a Verbena bonariensis

• a Sedum spectabile (ice plant)

• multipurpose compost

• 40 minutes

when to do it...

Autumn

how to do it...

Make sure the container already has drainage holes and, if not, drill about eight holes in the bottom. Then fill with compost to about 10cm from the top. Plant the rosemary, oregano and thyme at the edges of the container so they can trail down outside. Then plant the verbena towards the back and the other plants and bulbs throughout the rest of the space. Top up with more compost so it is almost to the top and water well. Place in a sunny, sheltered spot.

make your lawn bee friendly...

Try leaving an area of your lawn unmown between late June and early August. It will burst into life with bird's foot trefoil and red clover, both magnets to bees. When you do mow this area, remove any clippings from the grass. This keeps the fertility of the soil low, which wildflowers tend to prefer. Leaving an area of your lawn long will encourage other animals, too - hedgehogs like to forage in long grass and butterflies will lay their eggs there. The Rurbanite by Alex Mitchell is published by Kyle Books at £16.99. Buy it online at www.kylebooks.com for the special web price of £13.59.

Alex will be discussing how to make the most of your garden at Wealden Times Midsummer Fair on Thursday 6 June at 11am. She will also be joining Helen Yemm on the panel at 'Any Gardening Questions'. For more information, and to book tickets to the fair, visit www.wealdentimes.co.uk/events.