Well done to Vivian Russell for all her hard work in creating such a wonderful habitat on Silloth Green for bees and other pollinators.
As the short description below (penned by Vivian) illustrates, the look and feel of the coastal garden is similar to cottage gardens of the past and is completely dedicated to bees, bugs and other insects.
The Bee garden. By Vivian Russell.
The garden was started from a blank canvas in 2015 for the benefit of our diminishing bees, butterflies and other insects, and as a place for gardeners to come for ideas on what to plant for them in their own gardens.
It is divided into five themed areas and planted with over 100 species, of which roughly 80% are perennials, shrubs or bulbs, and the rest annuals.
The garden is designed to provide pollen and nectar from March onwards, when bumblebee queens emerge from hibernation, and continues flowering into early November. We also have larval food plants for butterflies and moths, and umbellifers for solitary and social wasps, flies and beetles.
The Bee and Bug Home offers nesting sites for solitary bees, and a dry place for butterflies, moths, beetles, ladybirds, spiders, lacewings and earwigs to shelter and over winter.
All insects are welcome and studied with great interest. Each one has a role to play in a garden, and we rely on the diversity of plants and creatures to help the garden function as a natural, balanced ecosystem with no attempt to control or interfere with their lives. Some roses have been decimated by Rose sawfly, but do recover, holes in leaves are an opportunity to find out what made them and add to the species list.
The colours are really dictated by the bees, but since their forage palette is mostly blues and purples, I have made the ‘Kitchen Garden’ colourful. Our winters are dreary, and everyone loves the bright yellows and oranges of the marigolds and nasturtiums which draw them into the garden. Fortunately, these are excellent plants for bees and caterpillars and very easy to grow.
With its proximity to the sea, holes in the shelter belt and westerlies blowing in from the Arcade end, the plants are tossed about a bit and often looks wild and woolly. The visitors like this, as it echoes the wildness of the AONB coastline and our weather, which is the environment we all know and love. When plants that are useful to bees seed themselves in the wrong place, I leave them alone. Lightness of touch, within reason.
What I’ve noticed most of all from parents and their children, is their excitement when they spot the bees or butterflies. Many make special visits to see them. The most fundamental achievement of this garden, combined with what they are now being taught in schools, is that children no longer seem afraid of bees, allowing curiosity, interest and enthusiasm to flourish. These youngsters are the future guardians of our little visitors.