|Heartsease - very tasty flowers|
In recent years the numbers of bees bumbling about the countryside have fallen precipitously, and some varieties have even become extinct.
|The best use for heavy old metal watering cans|
There is all sorts of speculation as to why this might have happened, and research is ongoing, but I feel that the very least we can do is to garden to help the bees.
|Busy bee on catmint|
They pollinate so many crops, and human beings are so dependent on them (if they did all become extinct, we would soon be following them), that it is pretty much a matter of enlightened self-interest.
|Where the bee sucks ... Lonicera periclymenum|
So as we walk round my little patch of earth, I will show you one or two plants that the bees seem to love - so they must be good to have in the garden. They are certainly attracted to honeysuckle (do you think they like the name?), which is lovely to grow up walls, along picket fences, or as part of an informal flowering mixed hedge. And the smell in my garden is quite heavenly ... somehow like the very best soap, but a lot less expensive.
Another plant which is always alive with bees is catmint (Nepeta x faassenii) - it has a very long flowering season, is pretty to look at, and a nice addition to this sort of flower arrangement.
And let nature take its course a bit: I am all for an easy life, and this is one of the things I like about permaculture - it encourages you to work with nature, and not to labour unnecessarily. Bees need flowers from early spring to autumn, so in February and March when flowers are short, I let the pink, purple and white deadnettles have their pretty way on path edges and in corners - insects love them, and you can always tidy them up after they have flowered.
|Spot the busy bee|
And just to show the virtue of laissez faire in the great outdoors: this is an unprepossessing wall on the north end of the house, close by the boiler outlet (you can see the blue of the oil line behind), with no soil to plant in, and here we have self-sown hollyhocks, feverfew and delphinium which have been allowed to have their own way. A tidy gardener would have weeded (or worse, weedkilled them) out of existence to leave a neat blank wall in all its ugliness.
Whereas Slack Alice somehow never finished the housework, and in the process made a bee very happy ... If you want to find out more about how you can help bees in your own garden, you will find The Bumblebee Conservation Trust here. I would also love to hear what you have been doing in your patch that encourages bee conservation - I am always on the lookout for new ideas.
And this little garden tour is part of the Bloggers' Garden Tour organized by Amy at During Quiet Time - have a look at the other gardens here - and even better still, why not join in and show us the pretties in your patch?