By Kevin McGee
The whole concept of creating a wild garden intrigued me somewhat, the concept of writing about it, something of a struggle.
I found the idea of writing about something that could be perceived as some kind of self-righteousness difficult. I always thought this is the type of thing Hollywood actors did when they bought a Prius, so they could pretend they were saving the planet mile, by country mile. Then I saw the difference we can make.
Rewind, Summer 2017. Let’s do a wild garden I said. Ignorant of how and without a green finger in my body. It failed.
Not to be deterred, in the Spring of 2018 the barren half of the garden, seemingly decimated by the worst snowstorms in a generation, was ripe for something special. And so we bee-gin.
I am not sure whether this is a step-by-step guide, or a story, or proof. You choose. All you need to know is that this is cheap, easy and wonderfully effective.
- Turn over your patch (this can be your window box – I promise it all makes a difference). Don’t be lazy and kill weeds with chemicals. And Glyphosate – just no! We did a patch of about 5m X 5m.
- Go to Lidl an buy lots of packets of wildflower seeds (cornflowers, rose thistle, poppies etc etc.). You know how Lidl do cheap beans? Yes you guessed it – the seeds are mega cheap too.
- Scatter them, cover with 1 – 2 cm of topsoil, and water. Lots. Every day.
- Bee patient.
- Bee amazed.
Colour. Lots of colour. No maintenance beyond water – and watch as nature takes your garden back. First the bees, then the caterpillars and the butterflies, then the midges. Followed by the birds, the bats field mice and a lizard. Then we got the barn owls visiting. Then a badger and some hedgehogs.
Then Oscar the cat, a 7 year old who had managed to thus far avoid bees, learned an important lesson. He tells me they hurt when they sting, a lot. How does a cat avoid bees for 7 years? We humans have a lot to answer for….
So now we have just about every trophic level we can muster in the UK in the top of the garden – in a matter of a few short weeks. We didn’t just get bees but an entire mini eco-system. It costs less than a fiver, an afternoon’s work and it looks great. But the best bit is that the wild garden helps to feed the bees, who we rely on to pollinate about 40% of our crops. We often hear the famous Einstein quote (or misquote!) that without bees, humans would disappear within four years. This may not be quite correct, but the reality is that without bees, our diet would get a whole lot less interesting, and a whole lot less healthy.
Suddenly, the nice groomed lawn looks very very ‘last season’…..
Find out how you can do your bit for the bees https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/bees-needs/