We are in the midst of somewhat dark and difficult times. Newspapers, social media and television constantly reminding us of the troubles that loom uneasily around us. Every day seems like a battle. And yet, there is one battle that continues to fly beneath the radars of far too many of us; let alone the political leaders across our planet.
Bee populations in decline
Our bee population is in a worrying state of decline. Without bees and other pollinators, there is no pollination of crops, 70% of which feed the world. And without food crops the survival of the human race itself is questionable. If current trends continue some bee species will be lost from Britain altogether; and one in ten of Europe’s wild bees will face extinction. It’s serious.
A number of factors are at play here including the ever topical climate change, the destruction of bees’ natural habitats and the continued overuse of bee killing pesticides.
Pollinators need food, water and shelter, and since World War II, 97% of our wildflower meadows (a natural habitat for wild bees) have been lost. As such, pollen and nectar rich flowers in our own green spaces provide both much needed food and indeed shelter for the beleaguered bee.
Planting to attract pollinators
As gardeners and plant lovers this is a call to arms. We need to stand shoulder to shoulder, trowel to trowel and do what we do best. Eliminate the usage of harmful pesticides and most effectively, plant, plant and plant more.
The plants that we so adore, that we spend our last single penny upon are the single most important factor in this worrying dilemma. Luckily, it’s a rousing cheer for us gardeners as we can cheerfully proclaim to our long-suffering but significant other halves, that we are helping to save the planet by buying more plants.
But what plants too choose? Like many garden centres and online plant retailers, Thompson & Morgan have adopted the beneficial ‘RHS Plants for Pollinators’ logo which highlights plants which will attract pollinators into our gardens.
Scan through Thompson & Morgan’s catalogue and you’ll see the ‘RHS Plants for Pollinators’ logo sprinkled liberally across its pages.
Attract pollinators all year round
As gardeners our endeavour is to attract these precious pollinators into our plots year-round. In the depths of our dreary winters plant cheerful, yellow winter aconites and beautifully scented Mahonia x media ‘Charity’. Spring heralds the much anticipated arrival of our beloved snowdrops, drifts of golden narcissus, stunning hellebores and a bounty of beautiful tulips, all of which will have the bees buzzing for joy. Summer naturally brings with it a seemingly never-ending parade of pollinating plants; a confection of Cosmos, fantastic fuchsias and geraniums galore. An endless summer bouquet of blooms. And finally, into the listless, mellow days of autumn, delightful dahlias, echinaceas, asters and the ever-popular bee magnet, sedums provide a final hurrah for our busy bees.
No matter what size our garden, be it a solitary, veronica packed window box, a hanging basket crammed with a cascade of lobelia or perhaps a single patio container playing host to exquisite agapanthus, there is no excuse.
It is estimated that there around 27 million gardeners in the UK (from a current population of 64 million). Think of the positive implications of each of us 27 million gardeners planting just one container of pollinating plants.
We have to take action before its too late. Let’s make sure the sting in this tale is ensuring we still have a bee population that has a sting in their tails.
I am an experienced and professional gardener, designer and garden writer/blogger.
I set up my gardening business in 2004, having studied horticulture and garden design at Kingston Maurward college in Dorchester, where I gained the prestigious RHS Advanced Certificate in Horticulture.
In the past fifteen years I have maintained, designed and planted a wide range of gardens from small urban gardens to large sprawling countryside gardens.
With a life-long passion for gardening, I have a good knowledge of plants and have created many beautifully planted gardens during my career, including my own prize winning gardens in Bournemouth.
For more information about me and my popular gardening videos please visit my website www.mike-palmer.com