Shed roof repairs

Shed roof repairs

The wildlife garden’s shed roof has been in need of repair for a while. Yesterday Nicole and Chloe spent the afternoon and evening replacing the roofing felt and generally repairing the shed.

shed roof getting repaired by volunteers

The next step will be to reinforce areas at the top of the shed that have begun to rot and to put on guttering and water collection. As soon as we get a couple of decent days the exterior of the shed is going to get and new protective coating as the wasps have eaten most of the last one!

A brief photo shoot in the wildlife garden

A brief photo shoot in the wildlife garden

A little misleading title in that we are including some photos from trial beds that volunteers are growing for observation and seed production for next year.

What I observed in my wanderings yesterday was just how popular the edible chrysanthemum sowings had been with the insects.  I’ll say no more as they deserve a post of their own. Here are some of the lovely things I saw yesterday touring the wildlife garden and the test beds.

Bee on ragwort flower, the fluffiest and cuddliest bee ever

Before anyone says anything this isn’t actually in the garden, its just outside on the main site boundary. Ragwort is great for insects but not so good for mammals.

A test polyculture bed with lots of edible crysanthemum and cornflowers.Many of the volunteers have their own gardens or allotments where they are bringing on plants for us or helping to increase seed stocks for major plantings / sowings next year.

Bee flying away from cornflower

Bee feeding inside cornflower

Wildlife garden tansy and ladybird

 

Water Lilly donation

Water Lilly donation

A big thank you to Greg from Lancaster who has just given us a lovely donation of 4 fantastic lillies with massive root balls. These are going to be perfect in the ponds. They’re already housed in a temporary site until the ponds are built this winter.

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.

Site re-launch

Site re-launch

We’ve completely redesigned the layout of the site and hopefully fixed a lot of issues. Apparently some simple errors meant that we weren’t getting indexed on the search engines. Hopefully people will start to find us on Google someday soon. We’re still in the middle of transferring a lot of info into the new format so please bear with us if you stumble across the odd place holder.  We thought it was better to get the new site up and running so that we could iron the bugs out as we go along.

All the photography used on the site has been donated for our use by volunteers.

Dahlias and wildlife gardening

Dahlias and wildlife gardening

Dahlias might not be the first plant you think of in a wildlife garden but they are hardy, long lasting and easy to grow and most important of all, the pollinators love them. It is important to pick the right variety though as some highly bred for show don’t produce a useful food supply. Open hearted types are most useful.

“For pollinators, the difference in dahlias has to do with the central disk. The central disk is where the pollen is produced and where the bees can access the nectar. Highly bred dahlias can have so many layers of florets that the pollinators cannot even find the central disk. Those varieties are of no interest to pollinators and are left alone in the garden.” HoneyBeeSuite

Of course Dahlias aren’t just good for bees. They were introduced to Europe in the 18th century as a potential substitute for potatoes but they didn’t catch on at the time.

More Reading on Dahlia’s:

It’s a delicious Aztec root veg that you probably have in your garden. Who ever knew you could eat dahlias?

Dahlias can be used to make dye

Open-centered dahlias, a pollinator favorite