THE MODERN MINT BLOG

May21

Helping The Honeybee Notes 2021

How can you help the honeybee?

Here are a few notes for you, on how you can help the honeybee and other pollinators – because if one plant is full of nectar, you might find butterflies and other bugs want to visit too!

Helping The Honeybee – Spring

At the start of the year, think: (organic) bulbs and blossom…

crocus romance flower

For blossom, make sure you have a hedge around your garden or apiary.

Hawthorns, cherries, crab apples will all give blossom for the bees to enjoy, while one of my favourite topiary plants also provides a brilliant food source for bees…. plant Phillyrea in your garden?

If you have a south-facing garden that gets too dry too quickly then planting a hedge of Rosemary will do the trick – helping the honeybee early in the year with lots of flowers.

Sarcococca works too, on an east-facing border… and you get the benefit of the fragrance.

Helping The Honeybee – June

The June Gap: this is the time when the garden and vegetable patch seem to run out of flowers, as the seasons switch from the bud burst of spring to the bounty of summer.

Make sure you have plenty of foxgloves in the garden (better for bumblebees), as well as ornamental poppies. But the best thing you can do is keep the clover and dandelions in your lawn.

Stay away from the perfectly green green grass of home and let the ‘weeds’ flourish if you want to be helping the honeybee.

(For more on making meadows, start with Making A Wildflower Meadow by Pam Lewis at Sticky Wicket.)

Traditionally, there never was a June Gap – UK meadows would have been in flower at this time, providing lots of forage for the honeybees, but 97% of our meadow habitats have vanished since the second world war, meaning the bees are in need of a food boost during this month. (They tend to survive on the high of oil seed rape, but need a wider variety of food sources for better health.)

Helping The Honeybee – Summer

The Summer Border: Plant in big blocks, so the bees won’t have to travel far to reach another flower. Less energy wasted, productive morning seeking nectar and pollen!

Helenium is a fantastic flower and incredibly valuable to bees because it offers twice as much nectar as other plants in the summer border.

You can see research from Rosi Bee Nurseries to find out more about the best plants for bees – Rosi Bee.

Late Summer Flowers: Brambles around the field edges, as well as those rotten weeds the willow herbs…. they may be a weed that tends to take over, but they are pretty and easy to pull out if they land in your garden.

Just let them flower for a little bit first, so the pollinators can get stuck into the nectar source they provide….

Daisies, sedums, escallonia…. all of these are great for feeding the bees at the end of summer.

How Else Can We Be Helping The Honeybee?

Stop doing things – no pesticides, herbicides or insecticides.

Instead of buying no nectar garden centre annuals to add colour to your garden, try Cosmos instead- an easy plant to grow that, once established, just needs dead-heading through to the first frosts.

Simple flowers work well… don’t buy plants where you can see too much the art of the plant breeder.

Add a pond or provide somewhere with water near to your pollen and nectar rich flowers. Bees need help hydrating too you know….

Make sure you try a few plants in the shade – pulmonaria and hellebore spring to mind – as bumblebees, with their big coats, won’t mind foraging in these colder parts of the garden.

Support organic farming and organic food production. These farms need the bees to help them pollinate their vegetables and fruit, so make sure we have bees to do it. Their is also a growing body of research that indicates bees that pollinate our food make it taste better and it will stay fresher longer. So with the bees help we are reducing food waste.

Steer clear of rhododendron. The leaf tends to steal light from the garden (for me, a massive no-no… give me leaves that reflect the light!) but the honey can drive you ‘mad’. Just Google it….

To Sum Up Helping The Honeybee

Bees talk – if you want to know how well your garden, your land, your country is doing, then if the bees are in good health and happy then you are providing lots of flowers and everything is groovy.

This is not the case of course. Our bees are in decline and the honeybee really does need our help.

Try planting throughout the season, as detailed above, and most definitely do not send the bees into a toxic landscape.

It will make a difference to our ecosystem and the bees and bugs that provide us with our tastiest food.

For more on bees, try this blog post.

Or have a read of this great book by Dave Goulson – Bee Quest.

May03

Selection Of Topiary Videos To Help You Clip

Over the last two years I have been involved with a couple of projects that have ended up being recorded, then placed on Youtube or Instagram. I’m hoping they will be useful to you, so I have decided this morning to pop them together in one handy blog post so that you can bookmark the page and revisit when you need some inspiration for your topiary. See below then, a few videos about topiary I have recently been involved with… Garden Masterclass – Provocations of a Modern Topiarist Transforming Topiary Topiary Teacher Put On The Spot https://www.instagram.com/p/CTj-EfOKRL6/ In the above …

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May03

Mark Zlotsky – Topiary Tango In New York

Mark Zlotsky is an artist based in New York, and today I just wanted to share his project ‘Topiary Tango’. In his introduction to the project he talks of topiary being a forgiving art, which I love and is soooooo true…..! For proof, just take a look at some projects I have made with a sharp pair of shears, a hedgetrimmer and a pruning saw. Do check out Mark Zlotsky’s project, because although his interest began by looking at topiary through the prism of architecture and the relationship of one building to another, he touches directly onto a way of …

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Apr27

Gardenista Interview – I Talk About Modern Topiary

Gardenista, the online magazine about gardens and design, have interviewed me about topiary. The article is called ‘Rethinking Topiary: A Garden Tradition Loosened Up’ and was published this morning. Written by the excellent garden writer Clare Coulson, I share some thoughts on using deciduous plants, how to clip (name-dropping Anne Lamott and her book on writing at one stage… oh, how I wander off subject sometimes!) and how to improve topiary by what you plant around it. Do take a look at the article in Gardenista. Or for more about my topiary work, check out the topiary page.