Bee Kind To Your Garden

30th April 2010

Tips for May gardening from National Garden Gift Vouchers

May time is garden time. Long Bank Holiday weekends with extended daylight hours to get your hands dirty, garden showcases such as Chelsea Flower Show and the first crop of home grown produce – sweet, young broad beans and gooseberries.

As you sit back and enjoy that home made gooseberry fool, have a think about how your fruit got from seed to mature berry and the vital role played by insects, particularly bees, in pollinating the vegetables and fruit that we eat. It is reputed that Einstein wrote that 'If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man'.

Our gardens can provide valuable nectar sources for the bumblebee and the honeybee, but their numbers are in decline. However, with a little patience and perseverance both can be encouraged into the garden by the use of artificial nesting boxes along with the right mix of plants and shrubs. Bumblebee numbers are down by 60% since 1970, which means that the humble bumblebee is now in danger of extinction. The main reason for this is some of the newer plant varieties we use in our gardens today and changes to countryside crops. Today's hybrid plant varieties often don't produce nectar or pollen and the countryside is producing less flowering plants.

Although some people might find bumblebees to be a nuisance when they are trying to sit outdoors, they actually do a very important job in nature. Without the bumblebee cross-pollinating flowers and plants, such as raspberries and strawberries, many of our native edible plants will become extinct, along with our beautiful native flowers. Plants that can help keep bumblebees in business in your garden include Honeysuckle, Geranium, Foxglove, Fuschia and Lavender.

A popular garden plant, whether in the border or in a container, Lavender is an easy herb to grow on its own or as a companion plant with roses or other plants. It is loved by bees and humans alike and emits a beautiful scent when you brush past it. It makes an excellent edge to a rose border or herb or vegetable garden and helps soften the lines of hard landscaping such as terraces or patios.

Lavender plants are pretty hardy providing they are kept neat and tidy. An annual trim just before growth starts in early spring is prudent as they are inclined to get ‘leggy’ and woody if not pruned. For Lavender to thrive and do well it needs a position that is well drained and in full sun. Adequate spacing is essential to provide good air circulation – do remember that lavenders are drought-tolerant only when they have become established.

May is one of the most exciting months in the gardening year. Growth is well under way, with seeds germinating and more needing to be sown, while young plants in the greenhouse and on the kitchen windowsill are now ready to be planted out into the warm soil. Watering and weeding are key during May and throughout the summer months. Keep an eye on roses that are prone to black spot and should be sprayed now to prevent it. Spring bulbs like tulips can lifted and stored and fast growing hedges will need a trim and clip to neaten up.

Plant hanging baskets and use bedding plants in pots or borders for instant early summer colour – all readily available from your local garden centre or nursery as are the ever popular National Garden Gift Vouchers.

National Garden Gift Vouchers can be bought/redeemed at over 2,000 outlets in the UK, with more than 90,000 garden plants and products on offer. Visit www.thevouchergarden.co.uk for details of outlets that sell and accept them, and to buy online, or call 0870 2408237 for more info.

Find Your Local