Gill Perkins of Bumblebee Conservation Trust has written today’s guest blog. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust was established because of serious concerns about the ‘plight of the bumblebee’. In the last 80 years our bumblebee population have crashed. Two species have become nationally extinct and several others have declined dramatically.
Why is it that men (largely) have a territorial disposition over lawns? Is there some biological impulse that is expressed only by them creating, caring, mowing (in straight lines), rolling, edging and generally obsessing about THEIR lawn or is it just mine?
It has come to a bit of head this year with my new job at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. I am looking at my garden with new eyes and I’m gazing at the expanse of lawn with a fairly predatory look – and it has been noticed.
From my new perspective as saviour of the bumblebees, closely mown, tended grass is just not going to cut it (…sorry). Bumblebees need luscious flowers of all varieties full of pollen and nectar, pictures of wildflower meadows come to mind, and borders with foxgloves and delphiniums, sweet peas and rosemary.
Then there is the tussocky grass they need for nesting or untidy untouched areas of garden where they can nest or hibernate – maybe we shouldn’t mow right up to the hedge but leave a margin for the grass and flowers to grow all summer, yes it looks untidy, but think of the wildlife we will gain.
The need for neatness in a garden is a strong one, my vegetable patch and fruit cage is a good example of straight lines, so I too am lured into creating a garden that both looks nice, from a neatness angle and provides me access to all areas, the thought of throwing a handful of pea seeds into a bed and letting them grow where they like, amongst the beans and beetroot I threw in earlier does not fill me with joy. So my mission is to find a compromise with my lawn fetishist, to introduce more bee friendly flowers and ‘untidy’ grassy areas into the garden and still retain a neat and pleasing looking garden. So far peaceful negotiations are still taking place, but if anyone has any ideas I would be interested to hear them.
Gill Perkins, Bumblebee Conservation Trust Conservation Manager
PS Please check out the new BBCT initiative BeeKind on our website it scores your garden on bumblebee friendliness and you can enter our competition for the most bee friendly garden!