Saturday, 27 August 2011

In praise of pollinators

Blackberry pie. A Lambert family favourite
Late summer and early autumn are full of nostalgia for me. Why? It's blackberry picking season.  Way back in the springtime, although I was photographing and blogging about meadow flowers, I was delighted to hear the hedges humming with the sound of bees working the bramble flowers.  True to form, all of their industrious pollinating has brought forth delicious crops of blackberries, greengages, cherry plums and sloes and they're all ripe for the picking. Mmmm Mmmm

I've been out for two foraging sessions so far this year and picked myself quite a nice stash of blackberries.  Too many for one pie and not enough for jam so I've put some in the freezer and I shall be out gathering some more tomorrow.  Add the blackberries to my runner beans and the gooseberries from earlier in the year and my freezer will soon be overflowing.  All thanks to butterflies, bees and a plethora of pollinating insects who were busy nectar hunting earlier in the year.

But now that the hedgerow is full of berries instead of flowers, oilseed rape, pea and bean crops are being harvested and traditional species rich meadows have been either cut for hay or grazed - what are the pollinating insects doing for food?  Those that hibernate will be needing to stock up with nectar so as to sustain them through the winter, so where are they feeding?

wild carrot, hawkbit and plantains beside the path
Walking in Thetford forest yesterday with Spud, Rosie and Lola I was delighted to see that the Forestry Commission's scheme to manage their paths and rides for wildlife is paying dividends.  A colourful corridor of yarrow, toadflax, harebells, field scabious, autumn hawkbit, wild marjoram, knapweed and wild carrot was providing a meal for copious numbers of bees, butterflies and moths.  Sadly, none of them would stay still long enough for me to photograph so you'll just have to take my word for it.

But how do the pollinators know their way from the meadow to the forest?  Wildlife Corridors that's how....grassy verges, hedgerows and gardens like yours and mine that make a flowery path for these creatures to follow.  That's why it's vital that as many people as possible have as many flowers as possible, for as much of the year as possible.  And that's why MeadowMat contains the species it does.  It's been designed to have a long flowering period so as to give the best possible support to pollinating insects.

Meadowmat is no more expensive than buying herbaceous perennials from the garden centre.  It's easy to care for and it's super-easy to install.  The MeadowMat video will go online early next week so look out for it on or follow Q Lawns on facebook to be sure not to miss it.
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