According to a report by the National Biodiversity Data Centre in County Waterford, our wild bees are “in decline, because they are going hungry because of a lack of food in the landscape”. In fact, readers who have a keen interest in gardening and in nature, will probably be somewhat concerned to know that there are actually ‘101 bee species in Ireland,’ with ‘19 of them being bumblebees,’ however, sadly, ‘more than half of these bumblebee species are in decline,’ the result of which will see a third of our bee species in this country possibly becoming extinct over the next decade.
Statistics like this are not only bad news for our planet, they’re also worrying for those ambitious Diarmuid Gavin wanna-be(e)s among us for the simple reason, in order to thrive, all gardens need pollinators. But don’t panic yet. You see, even though this year’s gardening themes are running to clashing colours and dramatic tropical themes, as luck would have it, for those of us who like to find our joy in the simple things in life, the natural wildflower garden, which is designed to encourage us to dedicate all, or simply just allocate a small portion of our gardens to embrace Mother Nature by nurturing and allowing wildflowers to grow in order to attract pollinators like bees and other flying insects, is now trending as the big story for your 2019 summer garden.
So, if you want to make your wildflower lawn the talking point of your summer barbeque, we’ve got a few simple suggestions you might like to follow. However, we’re sure your local garden centre will be happy to provide you with more expert advice.
First of all, bear in mind you do not need acres of lawn in order to grow a wildflower garden. A small patch or even a border where birds, bees, butterflies and wildlife, as well as humans, can relax and enjoy themselves can work just as nicely.
Give your lawnmower a little rest, and, as the warmer weather arrives, try to resist cutting the grass too often in your wildlife meadow. In fact, if anyone dares to suggest that your garden is looking a tad neglected, tell them it’s a conscious decision on your part because the advice from Dr. Úna Fitzpatrick, a senior ecologist at the National Biodiversity Data Centre in Waterford, is that people are being requested to “delay mowing their lawns,” in order that dandelions get a chance to bloom.
If you’re not too sure about cultivating the important dandelions to help the bees, (whose nectar will ensure plenty of honey for survival, but sadly is said to be missing certain amino acids needed for the manufacture of protein), and indeed, wish to add more blooms to attract the pollinators, then, bearing in mind that bees find blue, purple and yellow coloured plants appealing, you could pop along to your garden centre and source some bluebells and crocuses. In addition, planting marigolds, poppies, roses, honeysuckle and foxgloves, etc. in large blocks has proven to be more attractive to bees. But do make sure to ask the garden centre assistant’s advice regarding other colourful bee/insect friendly plants.
Make a home for insects by sourcing an attractive and vibrant bug hotel and, placing it on a fence post or on a tree trunk, making sure no rain can enter – you’ll be providing a haven where insects can find shelter and make their nests.
Like us humans, all insects need a fresh supply of water, so, even if you’re only using this information as an excuse to splurge on that new garden water feature, the truth is, you’ll be doing your bit for Mother Nature by providing a much-needed source of hydration where they can land, rest and revive themselves. Tip: Provide a little island or a shelf where bees can land safely and get a drop of water without drowning by using a wide, shallow dish or food tray, line the edges with flat rocks where bees/insects can land and keep it topped with water.