There is a patch of earth in one corner of my garden that is home to a small pear tree, a rampaging honeysuckle and a row of asparagus crowns. Or at least I think there are still crowns under there. I planted them last year and so far I have not seen so much as a green tip pushing itself skyward. It may be the soil, it may be a beastie has eaten them – all I know is that a freshly steamed spear dipped in a soft boiled egg has not yet graced my table.
But I digress. This weekend, at the annual town Gala, I got chatting to some of the members of the local Friends of the Earth group. The FOC campaign “The Bee Cause” has distributed 18,000 packets of free wild flowers to who ever might like them, encouraged them to plant them in their gardens, window boxes, allotments and in the countryside to help regenerate our declining bee population.
Thanks to climate change, disease and loss of habitat our bee population is in serious decline. Bees pollinate 75% of our most vital food crops and without them it would cost UK farmers £1.8 bn a year to pollinate our crops. They are also essential to our gardens, parks and countryside*. But its not just about the scary statistics, a garden in the spring and summer would just not be the same without the gentle hum of humble bumble bees buzzing about their business and can you imagine a world without honey?
I left the FOE stand with my free seeds, a bee wall poster and a bee badge which J insisted was pinned to his curtains. When I was searching for a place to sprinkle my free seeds it dawned on my that my failing asparagus bed would be ideal. It already has an established honeysuckle, a thriving lupin and bare ground – great for sowing wild flowers. It also has our bug hotel which should provide nesting space for the bees.
So we have lupins, honeysuckle, a sowing of wild flower seeds and a hotel fit for a bee. We have called it J’s Bee Corner.
*statistics courtesy of Friends of the Earth.