May 2022 Garden Gallery

… and Bee Happy thoughts!

Bee enjoying Borage: also enjoyed by Humans in Pimms!

May we Bee Happy!

” In the last five years the bee population has dropped by a third.

If bees were to disappear from the face of the Earth, humans would have just four years left to live.

No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”

‘Life of the Bee’, by the Belgian playwright, poet & essayist, Maurice Maeterlinck, 1901

At the end of last year, we started propagating several flowers for their attraction to bees. The varieties we chose also had to be ‘rabbit and deer proof’. Always an added challenge here. All have done well, but Knapweed is a revelation to me. It’s been like a total magnet to our winged friends – when in flower, the beautiful, shaggy pink / purple blooms never have less than two bees on each cushioned head.

Now grown into slim tall spikes, with attractive serrated leaves, they have proved to be both beautiful and an absolute honey pot to the bees. Enchanting to watch – multiple bees perch, seemingly for hours, transfixed on each flower head in a way that I’ve never seen before!

Bees and Knapweed – a perfect pair!

A quarter of all known bee species have not been seen since 1990, and (there is) a clear global trend likely to indicate global declines in bees and other pollinators.” … 

“Waiting for further data to more precisely confirm the type of bee and other pollinator declines could leave it too late to save them.” 

Guardian Newspaper, July 2021


Four key factors are contributing to the global decline in the bee population (justbeehoney.co.uk click here for link):

1. Habitat loss though commercial development

“We are replacing the natural habitat of bees with houses, business parks, shopping complexes and farms. All commercial developments on wild areas will have a negative effect on the local bee population but it’s something we can’t avoid completely…

It’s a sad reality that bees are losing the natural habitats (natural meadows and countryside) they directly helped to create. These natural habitats are essential for bees to find a balanced diet of food and have safe nesting areas. Bees are usually relying on protected wildlife areas to live in now, which is why we don’t see them buzzing around all summer like we may have done in the past.

It’s not surprising that bees don’t want to live in a man-made concrete jungle! It also won’t be a surprise to see that our native wild bee populations fall further if we continue to build on our countryside and common land…”

Having said that,

“Planting wildflowers and other plants which are native to a bees natural environment, even if in an urban area, can also help provide bees with desperately needed food and shelter.”

2. Climate change

“Climate change is something we’ve known about for a long time… It’s a fact that relatively rapid changes in climate around the world are having an affect on wildlife.

Changes in weather patterns can alter our typical seasonal temperatures, which in turn can affect plants and flowers that will contribute to the disruption of a bees natural yearly cycle of nesting and pollinating.

Unlike birds, bees are not known to migrate, if an areas plant biodiversity is significantly altered by climate change then it would likely have devastating effects on the bee population in that area. Many beekeepers believe that climate change is directly linked to bee colony losses around the world.

Only time will tell if government policy and our actions will do anything to reverse the situation we find ourselves in. We can only hope that as one of the most important creatures on the planet, our bee populations will be part of any considerations going forward.”

Information from justbehoney.co.uk

Mayfly on seed head in wild grass

3. Pesticides

“Pesticides have an extremely negative effect on our bee populations. Pesticides can impair a bees’ ability to navigate, cause infertility and damage their immune system making it harder to fight off diseases…

Pesticides are not only a problem in commercial farming but can also be damaging to bees in our own gardens ! Spraying our garden plants and flowers with commercially available products from our local garden centre or supermarkets, which often contain chemicals that are far from bee-friendly, is something we can all try to avoid and is a small way we can all help our local bee populations.

This is an area where we can all help a little by keeping our gardens free from pesticides and of course growing patches of bee-friendly flowers.”

Information from Justbeehoney.co.uk

Foxgloves in May – the bees love to disappear up their trumpet blooms!

4. Diseases

“Like all living creatures, bees are susceptible to diseases. If they are weaker because of pesticides, climate change and habitat loss, then it seems obvious that they will be more likely to suffer from illness and death…

While diseases can explain some heart-breaking loss of bees, alone it cannot explain the devastating fall in overall bee numbers. As we suggested in our introduction it’s likely to be a combination of factors that, while damaging on their own, only become truly a disaster when combined. Unfortunately that also means there is no single, simple answer.”

But we can all do our bit:

“It’s worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.”

Queen Elizabeth II

Cornflower – a wonderfully prolific self seeder!
  • “We can also make our gardens a sanctuary for our local bees by letting our lawns grow longer, our flowers grow a little wilder and refrain from using pesticides and weed killers.
  • There are organic and natural pesticide alternatives which can easily be researched online.”

Information from justbeehoney.co.uk

No Mow May

We have implemented No Mow May in increased areas of the garden & field, with beautiful results and a visibly positive impact on the amount of visiting insects. So much so, that we will keep it going throughout the summer, not just for May! See the Plantlife website for details. Last year, an added benefit of leaving large areas of grass to grow was that we – and guests – enjoyed the ‘soft landscaping’ produced by paths cut through swathes of grass and wildflowers. And we were able to make all our own hay to see the Sheep through the winter…

The new greenhouse

Our big investment this year is a lovely greenhouse – delivered the day before Storm Eunice shook the UK in the spring. After a delayed start, whilst we waited for the winds to die down, and cleared the fallen trees, branches and other debris, it’s now up, looking as though it’s always nestled near the Annexe fruit garden. It’s been hugely valuable already. So much easier than the DIY cold frames we’ve used in the past!

All our vegetable, fruit and flower plants are grown from seed (much of it saved from the previous year’s crop), or cuttings. So the greenhouse is such a great resource, and will aid repeat sowing – much of which last year got washed away by the heavy summer rain we experienced! 😦

The vegetable garden

We’ve continued enjoying abundant crops of last year’s plantings – particularly leeks, chard and winter cabbage (some of which I left to go to seed for the wildlife).

All beds were emptied – their contents being enjoyed by us or the chickens before ending up on the compost heap. The slow cycle of nature continued as we emptied last year’s heaps to top dress each vegetable bed with a thick layer of rich, dark home made compost – still live with pink worms, ready to extend their work to the growing beds.

Rhubarb beds flagging the guests new table & chairs

Garden views


Grass cutting continues in the field, apace!

The sheep aren’t really interested in ‘no mow May”!!

15 thoughts on “May 2022 Garden Gallery

  1. What a glorious garden with lovely flowers and vegetable produce. The treatise on bees with their excellent photographs is important and informative – the Maurice Maeterlinck quotation being particularly worrying.

    Like

  2. Such wonderful photos and your garden looks fantastic. We have a much smaller garden but I do have a wild area and I try to plant as many bee friendly plants as possible. Hasn’t Oscar grown?! Can’t wait to meet him! Should be back in Surrey soon, so will be in touch. June x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Look forward to seeing you when you’re back, June – and to seeing your wild area, too! x

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What an uplifting post Emma. So much positive actions that we all can do. I saw a photo of a grass area that was mown around the edge where people walk but the middle bit never gets mown. I love the glasshouse and I can see it working so well that a bigger one could be desired. Pesticides and herbicide use must be restricted as they not only affect bees but frogs as well.
    Thank you for looking after the nature and environment 👍❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much – I’m glad you enjoyed a visit to our garden here in the UK!! Hopefully we’re all gradually doing more and more for the environment, as we realise how fundamental the basics of life that are so easy to take for granted are! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The big one for my soils is adding compost. Now when I dig I find worms.
        I do love your garden 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks Brian. It’s amazing how gradually, over time, adding an annual top dressing of good homemade compost really does change the structure and richness of the soil for the better. Those worms, who just seem to come from nowhere, and who do so much amazing work in terms of breaking down the ‘waste’ into valuable compost, then gently mixing it into the soil, are amazing creatures that deserve celebrating! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for this informative post! Lovely photos as usual! The greenhouse looks marvelous. I hope it is working out! Did you have to assemble yourself and if so, how difficult was it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, we did assemble the greenhouse ourselves… the most difficult part was levelling out the ground, as we had tree roots to dig out – but all worth it now! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow that’s fantastic!! I’m glad the hard work paid off. I’ve considered a green house but am worried about my (lack of) building skills ha ha 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. There’s always a cold frame! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Quite. We have a hairy bumble bee I think which survived here after the loss of hedgerows post war finished it in England. Now being returned and reestablished. Amazing creatures and wonderful shot

    (64)21511152

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    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Jay!
      They are, indeed, wonderful creatures – and so interesting to watch and learn about…
      Good luck with your bumble-friends!

      Like

  6. What better way to start the week than with a garden full of bees! And you’re doing all you can to make sure that they have a haven with you in these impossibly difficult times for bees and insects generally. Keep up the good work: your garden looks magnificent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Margaret! Our aim is to provide a ‘haven’ for wildlife as well as our guests! x

      Liked by 1 person

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Location Horsham, West Sussex, UK Phone (+44)07930533916 E-mail theoakswestsussex@gmail.com Hours We will respond as soon as possible, and certainly within 24 hours.
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