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IMG_3528pic courtesy of Sara Willman

We all need to do our bit to help the bees. My penchant for cut flowers and herbs mean that there is usually plenty for bees to forage on in the garden but I’ve only recently got back in touch with my wildflower habit. My first proper school project was about British native wildflowers. For months in the summer of 1974, I scoured the area with my mum’s polaroid camera photographing wildflowers in the fields around our house, identifying them and writing about them in my notebook. I may even have picked the odd few and pressed them into the book too. (Always a rebel!) Of course back in the ’70s there were plenty of wildflower meadows around the country. We took them for granted like getting a bottle of dandelion and burdock from the pop lorry on a Thursday, fish and chips on Friday and washing your hair on a Sunday night.

Over the Summer I have made hundreds of seedballs with various children at farm shops, fetes and National Trust properties. (Thankyou Seedball for the raw materials.) I have planted up wildflower verges and basked in the bee heaven that is my allotment cutting patch. Now it’s time to spread the bee message with my school gardening class. We have been the grateful recipients of all sorts of bee friendly plant goodies on Freecycle – buddleia, echinops, lavender as well as avid sowers and growers of cornflowers and wallflowers. The bees should be very happy to call in on the garden at Fitzmaurice Primary School next year.

I’ve become friends with the bee keeper at The Courts in Holt where I developed a bee trail back in August for children to find out about planting to attract bees. This means I now have a ready supply of beeswax for candlemaking and to add to calendula petals and olive oil to make a magical salve.

I’ve visited lots of hives in various gardens and listened to tales of woe from last year when the weather was so awful. I’ve even contemplated installing a hive or two of my own but the regs on my allotment agreement prevent me keeping livestock (and bees are livestock apparently).

Yesterday I learnt of another exciting bee promotion project so I am honour-bound to pass it on to you, dear reader. Alys Fowler (late of Gardeners’ World and rebel gardener) and Steve Benbow (London beekeeper) have collaborated on a book. “Letters to a Beekeeper”. You’ll find out all about it here. More than that, you can help make this book a reality by directly funding its publication by pledging in advance for a copy in a number of ways. This book appeals to me because it’s about gardening in a way that looks at the bigger picture, breaks a few rules along the way and has grown out of a shared passion for growing food and keeping the bees happy even in the most uninspiring of areas. If you are excited by the idea, you know what to do. I can’t wait to read it.

I’ve already started planting next year’s bee cafe by expanding my cutting patch and the bee trail at the Courts is to become a regular fixture during all four seasons. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone planted an all seasons garden for bees?