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The Bees Knees

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There has been much in the news lately about how important bees are to our ecosystem and what gardeners can do to encourage bees (for example this recent article from The Journal.) I have always loved to hear the buzz of bees on a summer’s day (and I am a great honey lover) but of course the important aspect of bee activity is in pollinating plants so that we continue to have food to eat. Bearing that in mind, here at Curiously, Creatively we have been gradually working on ensuring that the garden pulls its weight on the bee supporting front. Our aim is to have a garden where virtually every plant is bee friendly.

Many plants loved by bees are great favourites of ours anyway, so we were able to get off to great start with our good intentions. One of our very favourite summer flowers is lavender, of which we now have two plants, one from 2009 with a second specimen planted last year. I can’t find a note on the varieties but I think the first one was ‘Hidcote’ and the second was ‘Butterfly Lavender’. As you will know, our stripy friends are very fond of lavender too, so there is a great deal of gentle buzzing going on chez nous in the summer months. There is something wonderfully relaxing in hearing the sound of that industrious nectar gathering.

I recently came across an Irish Times article on bees’ needs by Jane Powers (2010) that I had stuck into the Garden Diary for inspiration. Jane Powers’ article (Gardens for Busy Bees) suggests a list of plants suitable for honeybees and bumblebees, as they having slightly different needs. What I didn’t realise was that bumblebees have longer tongues, so flowers suitable for them might not be so good for honey bees. In this category comes the foxglove, a plant that I have long meant to have a go at raising. We are nursing along some seedlings, started off in the summer so I hope to have plants established next season. We will let you know how we get on with the foxglove project. Another project to talk about another time (and also a bee related exercise) is seed saving and even a little seed scavenging, to expand our plant stock.

To tide us over until next year’s blooms, we took pictures of some of our burgeoning stocks of bee friendly plants. These snaps were taken in the autumn, so it was nice to see have the colour right into the gloomy wet weather. You might even spot the odd bee…

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Despite the miserable weather, we are trying to be good gardeners over the winter so keep an eye out for some winter gardening posts (we hope!) Meanwhile, please do let us know what you’ve been up to this autumn…

Picture Credits: Verity

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