Here’s a copy of my gardening column from the May issue of Eastlife Magazine, which is a fabulous magazine all about ‘Living life in the East’.  The full version of the magazine can be viewed online at www.eastlife.couk

IMG_7809The month of May has to be one of my favourite months of the year.  Defying whatever the weather has to throw at them, literally every plant is bursting into leaf, surrounding us with a vibrant, lush green synonymous with May.

May also marks the start of a very busy season for one of our most loved and giving insects; the humble bee, creator of our delicious golden honey and for the gardener, a tireless pollinator.

In recent years the bee has suffered a dramatic global decline in population.  There are many factors behind this; industrial farming, parasites and pathogens, climate change, loss of habitat and bee-killing pesticides.  Most of those factors are out of our control, however, we can all adapt our garden planting to help the bees habitat and May is the perfect time to make that happen.

One of the wonderful things about bee-friendly gardening is the opportunity to make a difference regardless of how small your garden is.  Even a small balcony can incorporate a few pots for the bees to visit.   You can really make the most of limited space by introducing posts of chives, sage, marjoram and rosemary, giving you the added bonus of an instant herb garden!

For those with a larger garden, some honeysuckle (Lonicera) climbing a wall will be an oasis for bees.  A mini orchard of apples, hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) hedging and a lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) bed will all attract our favourite buzzing friend.

The key with bee-friendly planting is to avoid double or multi-petalled flowers which are difficult for the bee to access.   If you’re blessed with poor soil or an exposed site, then a Buddleja davidii will grow pretty much anywhere with flowers that will attract bees from miles around.  Perennial favourites such as Echinacea purpurea, Pestemon and Verbena bonariensis, all of which flower for long stretches, provide bees with plenty of accessible pollen.

A final point to consider is not to harm the bees by spraying your bee-friendly flowers with pesticide.  If we can all make some positive changes to our individual gardens then hopefully over time we may halt if not reverse the decline of our beloved bee population.

The latest copy of EastLife magazine can be viewed online at www.eastlife.co.uk

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