Below the nursery terrace is a grassy slope which we called “the field of dreams” until its future was determined. With the desperate decline of our pollinating insects creeping into public awareness, it was decided to create a garden specifically for bumblebees. The purpose is to show how an ordinary, domestic garden can become an important haven and food source for bumblebees without losing the qualities we want from a garden. Inevitably other pollinators will benefit from the garden too.
Introducing the Bumblebee Garden
Following consultation and support from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, in March 2018 the design was marked out and construction commenced. There are four main sections: a kitchen corner, a shrub and shade section, a wild garden and a sunny “flower power” corner. Every plant in the garden has been selected for its pollen and nectar value to bumblebees. Perhaps the single most important way to support the bumbles is to provide sources of pollen and nectar very early in the year, and again later in the autumn, so many plants have been selected with this in mind.
Some of the trees and shrubs were planted last spring, but the long hot summer made it impossible to complete the garden. The lavender and nepeta edges flowered well this first summer and were smothered with bees. The buzzing could be heard outside the garden. Over 800 bulbs were planted in the autumn, but the nursery’s vole population did not cooperate, and ate the vast majority of the crocus bulbs leaving tell-tale holes where they had excavated. Work recommenced this spring, and the garden is now planted and will be ready for visits from humans when the gates open later this month. The bumblebees just cannot wait however and are already visiting. There is an information hut with seating where you will find information about bumblebee identification, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, and details of the plants in the garden.
We are extremely grateful to the Hatcher Animal Welfare Trust whose generous grant has enabled the construction and planting of this garden, and to the volunteers who maintain the garden. Our bumblebees have never had it so good! We hope you’ll enjoy it too.