Friday, 10 June 2011

Bee friendly to wild flowers, they're perfect for reluctant gardeners

Two important press articles have been published, one has raised my spirits, the other has me worried.
First the good news:
Bee enjoying an oxeye daisy. 
One of the plants on the RHS perfect for pollinators plant list.
Also one of the plants in MeadowMat
A fortnight or so ago the RHS published their Perfect for Pollinators plant list to help sensible folks who want to support bees, butterflies, moths and other pollinators choose their plants wisely.  It's great to see that such an important society is doing its bit to ensure the survival of these important species and I hope that garden centres, garden designers, landscape architects follow suit and do everything they can. 
The press release from the RHS tells us that
"Over the last 50 years a decline in many groups of insects has been noticed. These include some of the common butterflies, moths, hoverflies and bees. The reason for this is complex but part of the problem may be the reduction in the abundance of wild flowers in the countryside. Gardens with their variety of flowers are increasingly being seen as an important habitat where insects can find sources of nectar and pollen."

Wild flowers in the hedgerow,
photographed on farmland in Norfolk
 Now I'm going to go on the defensive here, maybe I'm over sensitive, but reading between the lines, is the RHS suggesting the decline in insects is attributable to farming practice?  I'm a farmer's wife, plus I work for an agricultural organisation and these fellas honestly do their best to balance ecology with meeting consumer demands for more and more food.
I think that maybe this second newsy article also has a bearing on the decline in insect numbers:
According to a research project on behalf of London Wildlife Trust, Greenspace Information for Greater London and the Greater London Authority between 1998 and 2008 London lost 3,000 hectares of vegetated land. 
The report only covers Greater London, we don't know how much vegetation was lost in the other cities, towns and villages of the UK.  That's sad for us, sad for our children and a huge loss for our wildlife.
What can we do? Here are my own top 5 tips
    Simple green roof in Stevenage.
    A wildlife garden that takes up no
    space at all
  1. Install green roofs. 1,000 Ha of London green space disappeared beneath garden buildings in the 10 years covered by the report. A sedum roof on each one would have allowed the best of both worlds - shed and plants.  Plus, although there is only one sedum species on the RHS List, all sedums will attract butterflies, bees, hoverflies and moths.
  2. Tolerate a bit of untidyness in the garden.  A weedy patch in an unseen corner is no extra work and it's surprising what wildlife will colonise it.
  3. Plant a few wild flowers.  Even in a contemporary style garden, a raised bed planted with MeadowMat will support minibeasts and make a great talking point.
  4. Teach children about wildlife. Growing up in the country I knew the names of trees and flowers.  A generation later I'm a guide leader in a country village, the girlguides don't have a clue about plants, flowers, seasons, birds, butterflies etc etc etc what worse, is they're not interested.
  5. Encourage schools, hospitals, churches, nursing homes etc to turn part of their grounds into wildlife havens.  Not only will they be helping the environment, they'll be saving a fortune on grounds maintenance.
Post a Comment