Early Autumn is a good time to start planting your spring bulbs – the ground will still be relatively warm from the summer. Hyacinths tend to be fully hardy in the ground, but can be frost sensitive in containers in colder, severe winters. Plant your bulbs with their noses held high and around 10 centimetres deep, at a gap (minimum) of 7 and a half centimetres. Make sure you water to settle them in after planting. Spring bulbs offer a lifeline to bumblebee queens who emerge from winter hibernation with no honey reserves to sustain them, unlike their friends the honey bee who make sure they have reserves.
2. Snowdrops (Galanthus)
Snowdrops rise early and are a nice signal that spring is on it’s way, with blooms seen as early as January providing a feast for the eyes amongst winter woodlands – and a vital feast too for emerging pollinators such as honeybees and queen bumblebees. Snowdrop bulbs should be planted in the ground immediately to prevent them drying out, and they will establish easily. Ensure that you add some drainage in the form of grit to the planting areas to stop the bulbs from rotting.
3. Sweet Peas (Lathyrus odoratus)
If you live in the south of the UK, or somewhere where autumn is usually on the milder side, it’s fine to sow your sweet peas in autumn. If you reside somewhere colder it’s worth waiting until the second half of winter. Sow your seeds into pots of compost, placing each seed into a 7cm (3in) pot – or add a few to a 15cm (6in) pot. Keep your pots covered in newspaper until the seedling show! If you sow you sweet pea seeds in autumn, make sure to keep them protected in a cold frame or a greenhouse.
4. Wallflowers (Erysimum)
Plant out biennial wallflowers, such as Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’ in Autumn, so that they have a chance to get their roots anchored well before flowering in Spring. They have a sweet but spicy fragrance, and make an excellent cut flower. Pollinators such as bumblebees benefit from the pollen and nectar they provide early in the year.
5. Apple trees (Malus domestica)
The majority of apple varieties need to be cross-pollinated to produce any fruit. One tree that is loved greatly by our friendly pollinators is the spring blossom (it’s wide open flowers are easily accessible). Me sure to plant your container grown plants now – leaving bare-rooted plants until are dormant and the leaves have fallen.