Mike

Mike

A key player in the drought response team Mike has also regularly helped out with major landscaping  tasks.

Chloe

Chloe

Internationally renowned artist and designer gifted with boundless energy and enthusiasm.

James

James

Jet setting entrepreneur and business consultant. James’s enthusiasm seems to know no bounds and the bigger the job the happier it seems to make him.

Some plants are bad for bees

Some plants are bad for bees

The most well known problem plant for bees is Rhododendron but there are quite a few others. The top ten were recently listed in a Countryfile article:

Top ten plants that are bad for bees

But that does raise the interesting question of why are any plants toxic to bees? BuzzAboutBees outlines the various theories with and discusses the Pollinator Fidelity Hypothesis,
Nectar Robbery Hypothesis and Drunken Pollinator Hypothesis here: Plants Toxic for Bees

Of course its not just the bees that can have problems. Honey produced from toxic nectar can also be quite dangerous for humans to consume. In fact there is a history of ‘mad honey’ being used in warfare.

The following articles from AdventuresInBeeLand and Modern Farmer cover the topic quite well and well worth a read.

Are rhododendrons toxic to bees?

The Strange History of ‘Mad Honey’

I also stumbled across this fascinating documentary about the traditional gathering of intoxicating honey from cliffs in Nepal. It’s a lovely depiction of the importance of tradition and skill saving. A fascinating study of community working with nature.

Sally

Sally

I got interested because of Cathy and Maurice who taught me everything I know about gardening.  Now I take the kids up and do small jobs like gathering seeds. As long as I have a tub of macaroni I can stay up there all day. Perfect.

Al

Al

I love the wildlife garden. I don’t get there as much as I would like. Every time I visit I see something new and wonderful. I love the social side and its a great place to take photos.

Al

Al

Al started helping Chris with the wildlife garden in 2014 and has carried on volunteering since it became a BTD project. Al loves photography and is hoping to document the growing number of bee species visiting the site. He doesn’t really do much but makes a good brew, loves to chat and takes wonderful photographs. He also built this web site.

Design and History

Design and History

The site of the wildlife garden seems to have had quite checkered history. For decades it seems to have been used as a tipping area and was full of rubbish. At some point in its history this stopped and eventually attitudes shifted enough for remediation projects to get off the ground. Occasionally individuals would attempt to work on it but it was such a big project that only the concerted effort of years was going to get the job done.

Chris Dovey was instrumental in setting up a group of volunteers to start work in 2014 with the understanding that it was a long term undertaking. Here’s a typical shot of what the land looked like back then.

It took months of work to clear the surface of waste, especially the large amount of glass.  After clearance what remained was a very limited range of pioneer plants such as bramble, nettle, bindweed, dock and willow herb. In the distant past whether by accident or intent someone had introduced a variety of invasive forms of comfrey and over the years these built up a minimal surface of soil.

After the surface clearance and the removal of bramble the site was still a series of monocultures and quite daunting.

It was clear that we had our work cut out for us.

One of my fondest memories of Chris is working with him on clearing some of the land when on digging up a sheet of plastic buried about a foot deep we disturbed a family of voles.  The look of pleasure on Chris’ face when one of the baby voles sat on his spade gazing at him fearlessly,  was priceless.  He was overjoyed as he’d never seen a vole. His dream was to clear up the site and convert it into a vastly enriched area to encourage as much wildlife as possible. Sadly poor health took Chris very suddenly and just a few weeks after this photo, he was struck down by a massive heart attack.

Losing Chris was quite a shock and it took a while for us to reevaluate the projects direction. It soon became clear that we needed a plan! It was obvious that this was going to take years so the first plan was to landscape the site as illustrated below and we’d work on enriching the environment as we went along.

Once we knew where we were heading it was time to get some essentials in place,  like sand and gravel for leveling and paving.

Fantastic service with a smile from Keyline, Lancaster.

That meant the real work could begin and there was plenty of it to do.

It took a lot of effort from a large group of volunteers to get all the materials we needed on to the site and to clear the space to use it.

And then more materials

And even more…

After a lot of hard work the central section of the garden was roughly levelled and Chris’ shed was put up on the new space. Now that we had a central space for storage, shelter and brew making, work could really progress.

Beds were constructed and filled with good soil and intermediary plantings began.

The first phase of paving was completed and we had functional space to manage the work from.

A first season

 

We ran into a lot of issues we hadn’t anticipated with the land itself and the plan had had to be modified to reflect that we simply cannot dig into this land.  Everything will have to be built up which is going to make creating a range of water features in the lower half of the garden an interesting challenge. As of August 2017 the team are working on developing a full sowing and planting plan for next year and an updated overall landscape plan.

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