A sudden and unexpected opportunity has arisen to add two useful bee friendly plants to our new garden planting scheme.
We have a garden that is cut in two by a right-of-way, giving access to the gardens of neighbours to our right. This sounds less than desirable, but in effect this gives us two gardens. Yay!
We have a very private, smaller garden backing directly on to the house, and the other side of the narrow access path, a slightly wider and significantly longer garden, with room for a summerhouse, shed(s) and an apiary.
To the right of the gate into this ‘second’ garden, there is a ‘dead space’, an area about 2m x 1m which for as long as we’ve lived here has been full of a mature, unwieldy and more recently largely dead broom, some mahonia, a climbing rose, some ivy and something closely resembling privet which had sort of invaded from next door.
Luckily for us our new neighbours are getting to grips with the overgrown garden they inherited when they moved in, and cutting back all the stuff that went crazy while the house was empty. As a result this space has been partially cleared and we dug out most of the rest of the unplanned things too.
So, why blackthorn and gorse? Well they are great for the bees. Blackthorn (Rhamnus catharticus) flowers really early in the year, and gorse (Ulex europaeus) also flowers early and more importantly has a long flowering season, in fact it can flower almost all year round. They are great plants for hedging too, so we can enclose this bit of land at the corner of the garden, a minimal bit of fence can be put in to preserve the boundary and the bees have some spectacular forage.
On the subject of good planting, I can recommend a great book. My wife, who is in charge of the gardening side of this venture, has been very impressed reading ‘The Bee Garden’ by Maureen Little.