Bee Mat, Butterfly Mat, Bird Mat
(Bombus terrestris Audax)
These are the bees making up our ‘Bee Colony’ which you can see on
Noticed an increase in slugs and snails?
Well it’s not just a coincidence that the Thrush is now on the RSPB’s ‘Red List’ !
Common and Greater Knapweed, Golden Rod, Chrysanthemums, Borage Anise Hyssop, Cornflower, Verbena, Lady Phacelia and Viper’s Bugloss.
All sorts of bees, ‘cos they are declining, and nobody really knows why.
I suppose though, that a lot of this worry is really about ourselves, or rather for our children.
Because, as someone once said, when the bees go, we go !
They’re other pollinators, butterflies for example.
Yep, there are, trouble is really beautiful pollinators like the Butterflies are declining too.
“..........there are probably fewer butterflies in the UK than at any point during my lifetime," said Sir David Attenborough in 2013.
Last summer all I really saw were a few Cabbage Whites – and I didn’t want to see those !
Shan’t see !
Because there is another problem that has quietly grown ( and I mean quietly.)
The RSPB reports that there are around 166 million birds now nesting in the UK, as opposed to the much higher number of 210 million that nested in 1966.
And most of the birds lost are songbirds
There are loads of suggested reasons, and loss of habitat figures highest.
But do you think that perhaps lack of pollinators to make sure all those berries and stuff grow may just have a little to do with it ?
We can argue ‘til the cows come home about possible causes of these declines.
But while we’re arguing it’s doubtful if the birds, butterflies and bees will be coming home with them !
All those beautiful creatures, the sight and sounds of which really summed up a British summer, need help now !
And it may not be that difficult.
Why not each of us turning our gardens into a haven that birds, bees, butterflies – and us – love ?
We’ve suggested quite a few ways.
The direct approach of establishing a bee colony perhaps ?
(We suggest what garden plants bees like best, and what bees may come along, below.)
Or the slower planned gardening outlined by Jenny Steel
Planting of wildflowers in corners, borders, strips, Oh anywhere you like really
Never, ever, spraying or using poisons whatever the pest (husbands though ....hmm.)
Yes, there are loads of ways we can help.
Here are three more, and they’re just so easy !
I’m talking about biodegradable ‘mats’.
Each containing specially selected seeds to attract and feed bees, butterflies and birds.
You do take out any tough old perennial weeds which are in the way, but then you just level off the soil, lay down your mat, cover it in sand, or soil, or compost (a few millimetres should do it, enough to hold the mat down) water regularly and you’re away.
(Which the bees, butterflies and birds won’t be – away that is – when the seeds grow up!)
As well as taking out all of the hassle of working out which plants are best, these mats suppress the weeds too.
Like so many good ideas these seed mats are simple.
Two layers of biodegradable tissue - the thicker weed suppressing layer is on the bottom - and in between are the specially selected seeds.
You can cut your mat to fit any space, and they are ideal for that odd sunny corner.
I particularly think they are an ideal way of introducing children to the natural world.
Not just the wonderful world of gardening, but seeing how all of life is so diverse, but so interdependent.
How about ensuring your borders contain lots of the following plants.
For the Spring time I suggest :-
Bluebell, bugle, crab apple, daffodil, flowering cherry and currant, forget-me-not , hawthorn, hellebore, pulmonaria, pussy willow, rhododendron, rosemary, viburnum and thrift .
For Early to Mid Summer how about :-
Aquilegia, astilbe, campanula, comfrey, everlasting sweet pea , fennel, foxglove, geranium, potentilla, snapdragon, stachys, teasel, thyme and verbascum.
And for Mid to Late Summer :-
Angelica, aster, buddleia, cardoon, cornflower, dahlia (NOT the double flowered type), delphinium, eryngium, fuchsia, globe thistle, heather, ivy, lavender, penstemon, scabious, sedum and Verbena.
Some of the bees, and good old hoverflies (they really get stuck in to Aphids) you will be attracting.
(But buy as many as you like for that.)