Sounding the Trumpet (Vine)
If you're looking for a good bee plant that offers a little bit of an obstacle, try the violet trumpet vine (Clytostoma calystegioides). It's one of the UC Davis Arboretum All-Stars.
What's an Arboretum All-Star? The UC Davis Arboretum horticultural staff, led by Ellen Zagory, singled out "100 tough, reliable plants that have been tested in the Arboretum." The All-Stars are "easy to grow, don’t need a lot of water, have few problems with pests or diseases, and have outstanding qualities in the garden. Many of them are California native plants and support native birds and insects. Most All-Star plants can be successfully planted and grown throughout California."
In addition to hummingbirds, you'll find honey bees all over the purple-veined blossoms. Bees crawl inside a blossom (obstacle course!), forage a bit, and then pop back out, ready for another blossom.
Unlike most UC Davis Arboretum All-Stars, the violet trumpet vine is not a California native. It's from Argentina and the southern part of Brazil.
However, like many vines and trumpet players, it likes to put on a show. Its "show" is climbing walls and trellises and covering the sides of buildings for breathtaking displays. When you visit the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road at UC Davis, you'll see it trellised.
This is a plant that knows how to survive the winter and "bee" ready to bloom in the late spring and early summer. Call it robust. Call it hardy.
The bees call it food.
Honey bee slides into a a violet trumpet vine blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee leaves a violet trumpet vine blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)