The Bee-Friendly Garden: Design an Abundant, Flower-Filled Yard that Nurtures Bees and Supports Biodiversity

The Bee-Friendly Garden: Design an Abundant, Flower-Filled Yard that Nurtures Bees and Supports Biodiversity


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781607747635
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 02/09/2016
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 407,265
Product dimensions: 7.40(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

KATE FREY is an international garden designer and consultant specializing in sustainable, insect-hospitable landscaping and small farms. She won two gold medals at the Chelsea Garden Show in London for ecologically themed gardens and is a popular speaker at garden shows and clubs. She has written for Gardens Illustrated and Pacific Horticulture magazines, and lives in Hopland, CA. Learn more at

GRETCHEN LEBUHN is a professor of biology at San Francisco State University and the author/editor of two books on pollinators, Field Guide to the Common Bees of California and Attracting Native Pollinators. She is the founder and director of The Great Sunflower Project (, a national citizen science program designed to gather information about bee diversity and activity.

Read an Excerpt

As a professional garden designer, I used to judge the beauty and interest of a garden by the composition of colors, the texture of foliage, and the plants complementary or contrasting forms. I assessed scenes of nature by their ability to evoke awe or by the perfectly arranged composition of plant species. It wasn’t until my five-year-old son and I observed the metamorphosis of four brilliantly striped monarch caterpillars on a patch of silvery Indian milkweed in our garden that my concept of beauty and interest changed. Besides the caterpillars, I suddenly began to notice the many species of bees that visited the milkweeds and plants surrounding them: fat and fluffy bumblebees with a variety of stripes, hoods, capes, and bottoms; small bees carrying pollen on the underside of their abdomen; shiny black carpenter bees; stout, long-horned bees; and the most exotic looking: the iridescent green sweat bees. There seemed no end of the flower visitors attracted to just one small area of plants.

Soon I was spending more time watching what was visiting the flowers in my gardens than looking at the flowers themselves. The garden became a place of intrigue. Question after question was generated by each scene: Why were some flowers mobbed by visitors like flies, beetles, and lacewings, others by native bees and honeybees, and still others by just butterflies? What was it about the flower structure, pollen, or nectar that appealed to a specific set of organisms and not to others?

We put up bee-nesting blocks next to the garden and they were filled the first year, each hole neatly plugged with mud or chewed plant stems. Suddenly, the life that was visiting the flowers became an integral part of the beauty and vitality contained in the garden.

From this first milkweed plant, a world has opened and continues to open—endlessly. I have created habitat and bee gardens across California, at the Chelsea Flower Show in London, and in Japan and Saudi Arabia. Each is flower filled, suffused with color and shifting blooms, and is uplifting and engaging to the human visitor. Under the gray skies of London, I planted western native wildflowers and agricultural clovers in orange, deep blue, yellow, red, and white under and around an array of grapevines in a series of three gardens showcasing organic viticulture. Two of the gardens won gold medals and were visited by Queen Elizabeth, demonstrating that organic agriculture and the vibrant colors and soft forms of wildflowers have wide appeal. In Japan, my husband and I created a habitat garden focused on butterflies and bees, composed of a meadow with pastel-colored flowers under the soft, spring leaves of Japanese maples.

In the harsh light and dusty heat in Saudi Arabia, on an organic vegetable and fruit farm owned by one of the princes, we planted bright yellow sunflowers, orange and white cosmos, white alyssum, basils, cilantro, za’atar, mint, and fennel to attract and support wildlife. Watching wild bees covered in sticky pollen became our entertainment.

Spending time in a bee garden allows us to step into another world, transcending the everyday routine and entering a place of beauty and anticipation. With these gardens, we develop and maintain a connection to something larger than ourselves—we get to see and know the intrinsic value of the flowers and the lives of the bees that visit them in each season.

Table of Contents

Preface  vii
Introduction: The Benefits of a Bee-Friendly Garden  1
Chapter 1: Our Friends, the Bees  15
Chapter 2: Plants for Your Bee-Friendly Garden  43
Chapter 3: Bee-Friendly Plants for Edible Gardens  103
Chapter 4: Bee Garden Basics  115
Chapter 5: Designing Your Bee Garden  137
Chapter 6:
Beyond Your Own Backyard—
Becoming a Bee Activist  173
Resources  181
Regional Plant Lists  186
     Southeast Region  190
     South Central Region  192
     Southwest Region  194
     Pacific Northwest Region  197
     Rocky Mountain/Intermountain West Region  201
     Northeast/Midwest/Mid-Atlantic Region  204
Photography Credits  207
Index  208

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The Bee-Friendly Garden: Design an Abundant, Flower-Filled Yard that Nurtures Bees and Supports Biodiversity 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
MaureenST More than 1 year ago
First the cover, and then the title drew me in to reading this book. I know and have been reading about the bees dying, and we are heading for a major disaster if that happens. I do plant my flower garden with the bees in mind, along with the hummingbirds, Monarda, Oswego Tea, or Bee Balm, all the same name for one plant, is one of the plants that comes to mind. This book is a plethora of beautiful pictures and advice, and it is one that I will be referring to for a long time to come. Love that we come to the back of the book there are plants that are suggested along with their climate zones for each section of the country. I am sometimes very surprised that I can grow a plant that I didn’t realize would tolerate my zone. There is so much information presented here, I love it! I received this book through Blogging For Books, and was not required to give a positive review.
Teresa_Konopka More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly research and well organized, this book is a must for any gardener. From the full color pictures of flowers and bees to the helpful tips, this book is an excellent reference. Most know that bees are good for the earth. However, few may know the precise scientific reasons. Both authors explain these concepts in a way that is accurate yet easy to follow. There are also explanations on the different species of bee—I didn’t even know there was more than one type of bee! The authors also disgintuish between what type of greenery to have in geographic locations and seasons / temperatures. Beyond flowers, there are sections on shrubbery and different types of trees. Readers will learn how to keep their garden sustainable and how to attract the helpful flying workers. For those scared of bees, they can plant greenery that will attract stinger-free bees. Helping out bees will not only aid the world agricultural system but it will also help pollinate your garden to keep it looking its best!
4aussiegirl More than 1 year ago
The bee-friendly Garden By: Kate Frey and Gretchen LeBuhn I love this cover the cute little bee flying around the flowers and greenery is breath taking. I can hear the bee buzzing around the flowers. The flowers and greenery makes me want Spring to come now; well Florida doesn’t get Spring it is either cool or very hot here. The pictures of the flowers, garden, the design of the flower garden to draw bees is very interesting. The chapter on Beyond Your Own Back Yard –becoming a Bee Activist is really great. There are little bee drawings on some of the pages which is really cute addition but not on as many little bees on pages as I’d like to see them on because it is really cute to see the bee drawings. As you read the benefits of bees in your garden and the benefits for your flowers it makes you look and think of bees differently than just a bee that might sting you. This book is a great resource of information on bees, a little about butterflies and other beneficial insects. What kind designs of flower and veggie gardens to make your yard attractive? There’s ways to a healthy and fertile soil. It has organic pesticide-free. I received this book free from blogging for books for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review just an honest one. The opinions I have expressed are entirely my own and no one else’s. 5 Stars ISBN 978-1-60774-763-5