Skip to main content

Create a Show Garden at Home with Hardy's Top 10 Flowers for Pollinators

Published on May 1st 2021
A close up of a flower
Candide Festival of Flowers is a month-long celebration of plants, pollinators and people! This May, we're celebrating flowers, plants and all of the ways they benefit us and the environment. Keep reading to find out how to make a blooming wonderful garden using the plants featured in Rosy Hardy's Festival Show Garden, built at The Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants' Nursery.
Have you ever wondered what makes a Chelsea Show Garden so special? Months, if not years of planning and thought, go into designing a garden fit for Chelsea. From choosing plants to paving, it can be hard to know where to begin if you're not an expert.
We've chosen some of our favourite plants featured in Rosy Hardy's Festival Show Garden - perfect for brilliant and bright summer blooms. As well, Rosy will only feature wildlife and pollinator-friendly plants in her garden designs, so these plants are perfect if you want to attract a diverse range of bees, beneficial insects and other wildlife into your green spaces.
A close up of a flower

Festival Garden Plants

1) Cosmos

A close up of a flower
What are Cosmos plants
Cosmos is a genus of flowering annual, tuberous perennial and annual species originating from America. These plants are popular plants chosen by gardeners for daisy-like blooms which persist throughout the summer.
Cosmos care tips
Cosmos are perfect for beds and borders positioned in parts of the garden receiving full sun. They thrive when planted in soil that's kept moist and is well-drained.
Fun fact!
Dead-heading flowers will encourage further blooms through to early autumn! You can shake the deadheads in a zip-lock plastic bag to release seeds and use these for planting in the following year.
Where to buy

Shop Cosmos

Find out more about Cosmos!

2) Salvia

A vase of flowers on a plant
What is Salvia
Salvia is known by the common name Sage and comprises over 700 species. Salvia plants are grown as culinary herbs, ornamentals, and medicinal plants but are also extremely popular with pollinating insects.
Salvia care tips
For a plant that originated in warmer climates, Salvia plants prefer to be grown in areas receiving full sun. Many species won't tolerate frosts, so be sure to check if your garden is frost-prone before you buy. Water lightly and regularly, and ensure the soil is well-drained.
Fun fact!
The word Salvia originates from the word salvere, or, to heal in Latin. Salvia has been used in traditional medicine in various parts and the world and is now being researched more thoroughly for its medicinal properties.
Where to buy Salvia plants?
Find out more about Salvia, including growing tips and interesting facts!

3) Achillea

A close up of a flower
What are Achillea plants
Achillea, or Yarrow, is a plant genus containing around 85 flowering perennial plants. Scented, fern-like foliage is grey-green in colour, with clusters of tiny flowers. Achillea flowers come in a range of vibrant colours, and their mat-forming nature makes them a great plant for ground cover and borders.
Care tips for Achillea plants
Achillea can tolerate some shade. Make sure to choose somewhere in the garden that won't become waterlogged and receives some sun during the day. Taller species of Achillea may require some extra support.
Fun fact!
Yarrow's Latin name Achillea originates from the name of a hero in Greek mythology. Known as Achilles, the plant was supposedly used to treat battle wounds of war. It also has other symbolic links to healing and war.
A close up of a flower

Shop Achillea

You can find out more about Achillea here:

4) Iris

What is an Iris
An Iris is a perennial plant that can be grown from a bulb or rhizome. There are 360 species in the genus.
How to care for Iris
Irises are mostly hardy plants, but some cultivars and varieties are less tolerant to adverse conditions. You can plant them in the summer and early autumn. Ideally, they grow best in neutral soil but can persist if growing conditions are slightly acidic or alkaline. Irises are easy to look after- they just need a sunny spot to grow successfully!
Fun fact!
On the 8th of May, it's the national day of the Iris flower! Irises have many different meanings because there are many different types, originating from different parts of the world, resembling different things in various cultures. The name Iris itself comes from the Greek goddess, or messenger of the gods: Iris. It's thought she travelled between human beings and the gods using rainbows as her guide!
Where to buy Iris:
A close up of a flower

Shop Iris Plants

Learn more about how to best grow Iris:

5) Nepeta

A close up of a flower
What is Nepeta
Nepeta is a genus of plants known more widely by the common name, Catmint. There are roughly 250 species, most of which are herbaceous perennials, found in the same family as Salvia.
Catmint is easy to look after— plant seeds in well-drained soil in a sunny spot in the garden.
Fun fact!
Catmint is sometimes called Catnip because its fragrance is extremely attractive to cats. Only around half of cats demonstrate this sensitivity to catnip, dependent on their DNA.
Where to buy Nepeta plants
Catmint looks amazing when planted in a herb garden. Grab yours now!
You can find out more about Catmint in our article below!

6) Anemone

A close up of a flower
What are Anemones
An anemone is a group of flowering perennials containing only 20 species. Because they originate from across the world, there are several types, each being suited to different growing conditions.
Care tips for Anemone
Make sure you check specific care information before you planting your Anemone. Larger species of Anemone are best grown as border plants, whereas smaller species are great for forest gardens and rockeries.
Fun fact!
Anemone originates from the Greek word anemos, meaning wind -- which is why they're commonly known as windflowers in English. In Greek mythology, Anemone flowers grew from Aphrodite's tears after discovering the death of the god, Adonis.
Find out more facts and tips on how to grow Anemone below:

7) Campanula

A close up of a flower
What are Campanula
Campanula is a genus of perennial flowering plants with delicate and colourful bell-shaped, tubular or star-shaped flowers. Many are blue, but they can also produce flowers that are pink, purple and white. Species will spread or form clumps; they can also be trained to climb or grow upright, making them a versatile plant!
One of the highlights of Campanulas is that they're easy to look after and can be grown successfully in a variety of garden conditions. They can be grown in sun or shade, but make sure you research special varieties before planting to ensure the right conditions are met. Soil should ideally be kept moist and allow sufficient drainage of water - dry soil will result in unhappy plants!
Fun fact!
Being blue in colour and rich in nectar and pollen, Bellflowers are highly attractive to Bumblebees, Honeybees and Solitary bees!
Where to buy Bellflowers:
Background pattern
What are Geraniums
Geraniums are a large group of plants comprising around 300 separate species. These plants are called hardy for a reason; they require little attention and can thrive in many types of gardens. If you're someone with a busy lifestyle, Hardy Geraniums are a great choice.
Geranium Care Tips
They're easy to look after and can be successfully grown in clay, chalky and sandy soil; just ensure sufficient drainage.
Fun fact!
They're great for most pollinators but are favoured by short-tongued bees, such as honey bees, miner bees and some bumblebees.

9) Verbascum

A close up of a flower
What is Verbascum
Commonly known as Mullein, Verbascum is a genus comprising annual, perennial and biennial plant species. Its colourful flower spikes are nectar-rich and extremely attractive to pollinators, like solitary bees. Verbascum plants look most beautiful when grown informally, such as in a cottage garden.
Care tips
Mullein is easy to grow but will not tolerate waterlogged soils. Make sure you grow these plants in well-drained soil in a position that receives plenty of sunshine.
Fun fact!
Wool Carder Bees use the plant fibers of Verbascum leaves to build their nests!

10) Hosta

A close up of a flower
What are Hostas
Hosta plants are a group of herbaceous perennials. The genus contains 70 species originating in East-Central China, but now, they are grown worldwide for their luscious foliage and delicate-looking bell-shaped flowers!
Care tips for Hosta plants
Hostas are one of the best plants you can opt for if you have a shady garden. Just ensure the soil is fertile and stays moist throughout the warmer months. They're most suitable for ground cover but can be grown in containers, too, making them a lovely plant for balconies and patio spaces.
Fun fact!
Typically chosen for their foliage, Hostas are rich in nectar, providing food for bees, moths and butterflies.
Where to buy Hosta plants?
A close up of a flower

The Hosta Collection

Ever wondered how plants are chosen for Chelsea? Watch the video to find out!

This content is hosted by YouTube

By showing this content you agree to the terms & conditions of

To see YouTube videos without this popup please update your cookie preferences.

Enjoy this article? Follow us on social media to learn more about these ten beautiful spring flowering plants and how you can successfully grow them in your garden. Click below to join in the floral celebrations this month:

Related articles

A close up of a flower

In the garden


Festival of Flowers: The Best Edible Flowers to Grow in Your Garden

No kitchen garden or allotment plot should be without flowers. They look good, aid pollination, increase biodiversity – and...
A close up of a flower

Candide's Festival of Flowers: What's On?

This May, we’re celebrating the UK’s most magnificent blooms, from confetti-like blossom to voluptuous peonies. We’re devoting...
A man standing in a garden

Join Garden Day 2021!

Garden Day is a nationwide event to raise awareness of the benefits green spaces can have on our mental and physical health.

Love gardens? Sign up for Candide’s Almanac!

A weekly edit of freshly picked gardening tips, travel guides, and the best botanical days out happening near you. Unsubscribe at any time.



About usCareersPrivacy policy

Candide is your guide to visiting UK public gardens. Find the best gardens, buy tickets and enter with just your phone. Download the app for offline tickets, community access and more.

Terms & ConditionsCode of Conduct

© 2022 Candide

Made in Bristol