Our gardens are full of small miracles. The billions of tiny organisms in every teaspoon of soil that are the difference between a fertile tilth and sterile dust. The joyful, tumbling swifts and swallows that somehow fly here every summer from thousands of miles away in Africa. The wonderful feeling you get from smelling that first cut of the lawn on a warm day in spring, each time as good as if you’d never smelled it before.
One miracle that people all too often take for granted is the good old bee. To put it simply, having bees around makes the difference between having a strawberry plant with leaves on it… and having a strawberry plant with leaves AND strawberries on it. I know which I’d rather.
Help for garden heroes
Bees are in trouble; threatened by changes in our landscape, diseases and pesticide use on farms. Some of our native bee species have already become extinct in the UK. It’s not all bad news – there’s more help and advice out there than ever before, and even the government has started to take notice. This week is Bees’ Needs Week and Defra (The Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) has produced a task list of five things gardeners can do to help bees and other pollinating insects. Here they are:
1) Grow more flowers , shrubs and trees
2) Let your garden grow wild
3) Cut grass less often
4) Don’t disturb insect nests and hibernation spots
5) Think carefully about whether to use pesticides
For more information, see Defra’s factsheet:
Meanwhile, here are some photos I took of the bee hotels and bee-friendly planting at Peterborough’s wonderful community garden, The Green Backyard.