This week has been the week that we remember and show appreciation for our pollinators.
I read recently in the Irish Times that here in Ireland, bees are a crucial link in the supply chain of our apples, raspberries and other soft fruits. and that a third of the Irish species of bees is threatened with extinction. One can imagine what problems this will cause down the line. Personally we are having a great crop of raspberries and the pollination, as far as I have been able to observe, has been done by bumblebees. There is of course a large number of different pollinators, luckily. I can’t resist taking photos of any wildlife I find in the garden, so here is a series of pictures taken this spring/summer of our pollinators.
This bee was just lying there, I guess it was almost dead, but it soon revived with a little honey.
Also many other pollinators visit the gardens.
Thanks to Murtaghsmeadow’s blog for bringing Pollinators Awareness week to my attention. This is a link to her blog.
Here is another interesting link: http://www.biodiversityireland.ie/projects/irish-pollinator-initiative/all-ireland-pollinator-plan/
It’s amazing how much colour and produce the garden has at this time of the year. Around here it is considered late summer and some days might really have the feel of autumn about them.
But that is not to say that there is less growth, lately we have had a few warm days, temperatures going up a high as 20C, delightful of course and naturally resulting in good growth. The leeks, kale and other winter vegetables that I planted out over the last few weeks have established themselves really well. I am also drying very many herbs and wild plants for winter use, and it gives me great satisfaction to do this.
Among the vegetables are the flowers which give plenty of variety in colour and beauty. Plenty of bumblebees visit especially the oregano and the wall flowers.
I’ve been infusing oils lately, the latest now is the hypericum perforatum, started that today, more flowers need to open over the next few days so I get enough to make a good infusion.
It is an interesting time of the year what with so much harvesting going on, granted in my garden it’s mainly herbs and wild foods this time due to having had a bad season, but that is also interesting in itself.
The slug and snail hunt is still on every night and it is helping to keep my vegetables safe, so worth the effort.
Kale, onions, and some type of marrow – lovely patterns and colours.
Bumblebee on a wallflower
Two very favourite herbs, the St.John’s worth (hypericum perforatum), and the tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) I seem to remember that my dad used to make us a pancake every spring time adding the leaves of the tansy, it was to protect us kids from worms. Not sure if this was a regular herbal remedy, I think it was rather a traditional thing to do in the town where my dad is from (Diest in Belgium). I remember the very peculiar taste, and enjoyed it. (not saying it is safe to do this by the way, do your own research please.)
Some sort of fly on the calendula flower, nice to have come across this today.
My sprouts are growing very well, can’t wait to see the sprouts coming on the plants. And a bumblebee on the oregano flowers. Real nice to get them come into flower and so the insects can enjoy them too.
Cleared away the destroyed Borage plant today, but before I took it all away to the compost I had to get a nice bouquet to be enjoyed still by the bees and us too. I had left it on the patio table, and the bumblebees did come and feasted on the pollen of the still fresh enough flowers. It broke my heart almost to have to cut it all down, but then I remembered that the comfrey plant is also fully in flower now and has plenty of pollen for the insects, bees and all. Took some pics of the lovely bumblebees, and some other creatures that came across my path today.
Somewhere else in the garden, another borage plant is already getting big and is flowering.
To date I have not used the borage flowers for producing anything really, and I am not even sure what I would make, but it is supposed to be used in a skin cream. It’s ok because I cannot try everything at the same time, there is so very much that one can use and make with plants, and there is so much information about it all these days, interesting books, like for example, Sof McVeigh’s ‘Treat Yourself Natural’ which gives many ideas and recipes for making and using things out of the garden. A book beautifully produced and well recommended.
These creatures, a wood lice, and a little red mite were hidden under a stone that I disturbed today.
Today I spent some time around the Borage plants, I wanted to count the amount of Bees, or Bumblebees, if any, that would be visiting. As it was a sunny day there were quite a few Bumbles feasting on the delicately coloured Borage flowers. This year I let the Borage plants, about half a dozen of them, grow in one of the raised beds, I did it especially to attract the Bees, and it seems to be working, the plants became huge and all of them are flowering profusely. I just enjoyed staying with it for a long while and clicked with the camera, and was able to capture some of them. Meanwhile I had forgotten that I put a pot of soup on for warming up and if Ian would not have discovered it the pot would have burnt to a cinder! Oeps! Thank you Ian.
Borage is such an easy plant to grow, it basically starts growing all over the garden, where I leave it as much as is possible, I think that it is very important to grow as many wild flowering plants as possible to help the declining Bee populations. It is also very attractive to have wild flowers among the vegetables.
Above: A beautiful Bumblebee
Above: More Bumbles, of two different types.
Above: and more of them I am happy to say.
These are my Borage plants in full flower, they are next to the Strawberry plants (also in full flower)
Above: Detail of a Borage flower, and view from above.