After Phil extended our flower beds yesterday, we have reviewed the way we have the garden set up and have decided that we do not need such a big lawn. Today we marked out the edge of what will be our new lawn area- just big enough for us to sit on the ground with the barbeque, for the guinea pigs to graze (no more lawn mowing needed!) or for us to sit at our small round garden table with two chairs, but no more than that.
As we were pottering in the garden, discussing our plans, we noticed a bee crawling around slowly on the patio, who did not seem able to get up. I offered them sugar water from our bee waterer, dropping some on the ground and also offering some on the end of my finger. I was delighted to see the bee poke its tongue out and sip from my finger. I didn’t expect to have such a close interaction with an insect. We placed the bee out of harm’s way to recover, and later found that it had recovered and flown away.
Our 30dayswild challenge has become quite bee themed, as these are the creatures we notice enjoying our garden the most often. Today we went to the garden centre, armed with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s booklet on Gardening for Bees and the Royal Horticultural Society’s list of pollinator friendly plants, and a mission to fill our trolley only with plants that were on one of the lists.
We came home with a beautiful selection of plants, that we love, but that will also be great for our visiting wildlife. We started clearing away some of the lawn, and have begun on the planting, with Lupin, Geraniums, snapdragons and Jacob’s Ladder (polemonium caeruleum). The garden is looking better already, and the bees seem to be enjoying the new plants.
While digging, I found this, I’m not sure what it is, something living, and would love to know, if anyone can help.
We also added another bee friendly feature to the garden today. We watched Springwatch this year and were inspired by their Springwatch SOS to build a bumblebee nest site. We found a how to guide online (www.bumblebeeconservation.org/images/uploads/Making_a_bumblebee_nest.pdf) and have been gathering the bits and pieces needed over the last week.
I picked up a terracotta plant pot from the garden centre, along with a slate to act as a roof. I found wire netting in the pound shop, and a random piece of hosepipe in the garden shed (I’m not sure where this came from as we’ve never had a garden hose, preferring a watering can and rainwater from our water butt, it was a serendipitous find). Lastly we needed rodent bedding, not a problem in our house, with seven hamsters, three guinea pigs and a rabbit, we had our pick of rodents to choose from!
I bent the wire into a platform to fit underneath the plant pot, while Phil punctured holes in the hosepipe and dug a shallow hole to place the pipe and flower pot in, then positioned the pipe and the wire platform, with rodent bedding on it, before placing the flower pot on top of the platform, covering one end of the pipe. We then buried the pipe and the bottom of the plant pot. The last step was to place small stones on top of the plant pot and then the slate balanced on top of them. This will keep the nest dry but also allow air in. The bees will enter and exit the nest via the garden hose, the holes allowing any water that gathers in it to drain.
It may be a bit late in the year for a queen bee to find our new nesting site, but we hope that we may have a Queen living in the garden next year, with lots of bee friendly plants to provide nectar and pollen for the bees from early Spring to late Autumn. Our garden will be really buzzing with life.