This is borage. Borage has star-like edible flowers. These can be preserved in sugar for cakes, or tossed into salads. The leaves can be used for tea. I have this growing where I live but have not tried it.
Another suggestion is plant one plant just for the pollinators. Like lettuce, then let it go to seed, just for the pollinators.
Invasive plants are Earth's way of insisting we notice her medicines.
Everyone learns what works by learning what doesn't work.
Our nativebees love these:
- Scarlet runner beans (heritage pole beans).
- Black oil sunflowers (sold for bird seed; field sunflowers with multiple heads).
- Cat mint (can be used for tea, though I don't find it very palatable frankly).
- Indeterminate tomato plants.
These are all great choices. I find that chestnuts and linden (but not silver linden, which is toxic to bumblebees) are both great for bees. Linden leaves and flowers are used as a vegetable. We also use bigleaf maple blossoms in stir fries and potsticker filling. Buckwheat and sunflowers are good choices, though most won't go to the trouble of harvesting the seeds for human food. I like medlar, quince, and persimmon for pollinators, because they all bloom late here (May-June) and the weather is nice for a lot of pollinators to be flying.
When you reach your lowest point, you are open to the greatest change.
For me, luffa is always surrounded by bees and other flying things. They have open flowers that seem easy to get to, and the fruits are edible when young. This year, I plan to grow ridged luffa, since it's supposed to be better for eating.
I let broccoli go to seed for the pollinators. They seemed to love having those early spring flowers, and I could still eat the flowers and leaves.
Basil, lemon balm, oregano, bee balm...most of the mint family are pollinator buffets.
Not really pollinators, but very beneficial -- I keep reading that the carrot family flowers are attractive to parasitic wasps. I'm trying to incorporate more of those this year and will let some flower. Anise, fennel, caraway, dill, parsley, celery, etc.
I have found the herbs and mints to get the most traffic from pollinators on our farm. Also the flowering trees like fruit trees, linden, sumacs, dogwoods, maples. Lemon balm is a hit and it has a bunch of side benefits Lemon Balm for Weight Loss and Skin Aging
Rare edibles, honey bees, and wildlife habitat
If you want to see the bees go crazy, plant a linden tree. What else is awesome about this tree? Well, the leaf buds, leaves, and flowers are 100% edible - not choice edible, mind you, but definitely useful in times like these! The flowers also make a great herbal tea. ;)
Bees also love sea kale flowers - but you have to have the willpower not to eat all the delicious florets first!
I always see the most pollinators/ beneficials around parsnip flowers, they are always buzzing with activity. I have a corner in my backyard that I planted parsnip in and never harvested and now they reseed themselves, I usually leave most of that area to the wild things.
Over the years, I have both saved some squash and melon seeds, and this year saved a couple of squash and cukes that remained just fine all winter. One patty pan squash just dried up and turned into a rattle, and one zucchini stayed green and is just now, May1, starting to yellow.
I am in zone 5, and I have a south-facing fairly steep bank that is cleared (kinda barren, really,) and which I plan to use to function like zone 6.
Along with the various trees and shrubs that I am putting in now, I plan to open the rattling squash and disperse those seeds, plus the zucchini , plus various melon seeds, plus various echinacea and chicory seeds, and see what happens. My plan is to be both landracing - letting what is happy thrive, - and having a good pollinators' feast ground-cover, which can then nourish the soil when it dies back in the fall. Wish me and the pollinators luck!
This year I planted lots of extra tulsi and anise hyssop starts. Of everything in the garden last year, the tulsi (holy basil) was the one consistently loaded with pollinators. This year, I'm being much more mindful about having plants tucked in every available spot just for the beneficial insects. Keep in mind that they need both nectar plants and pollen plants. Some plants provide both. So, instead of putting the the old standby, marigold, everywhere, though I still have some, I'm thinking a little differently and adding more of these plants directly in the vegetable garden or near the fruit trees, not separately in the herb garden.
Butterfly milkweed and swamp milkweed
Several different basils
Beebalm and lemon beebalm
Alyssum for the tiny wasps
More flowers in general along the perimeter of the whole garden
Note that some of these are perennials and some need to be stratified.
I second your mention of milkweed! Our common milkweed is abuzz with many pollinators beyond the beloved Monarchs.
I've been startled to see a lot of interest in zinnias, as I assumed (wrongly?) that they were hybridized beyond recognition. One of my favorites, liatris (gayfeather, blazing star), is also a favorite. Verbena bonariensis (tall, skinny stems with beautiful clusters of purple waving above the garden) is great, old-fashioned hydrangea, lupine, asters, monarda (bee balm), and spirea all seem to promote enthusiasm as well.
I've noticed the herbs are very popular, particularly basil, borage, yarrow, and mullein. Peas, beans, and squash among the vegetables.
This year, the butterflies are loving the thistle that has sprouted all around our house and garden area. The blossoms are very pretty in my opinion. I like to dry them and use the in flower arrangements.
Did you know that thistles are edible? Yes, the thistles in the genus Cirsium, and the genus Carduus, are edible.