Charles Flower, who I visited today with Dr. Pippa Rayner (the BBCT’s inexhaustible Conservation Officer), is an unusual mix of absolute charm and studied determination. He was an early evangelist for wildflower meadows and has been working with enormous enthusiasm on promoting them for over 30 years. His Wiltshire farm is a joy; immaculate and beautifully concieved. He is very much a farmer and very much habitat rather than species driven, so his views are consequently well rounded and informed by the real world; one of his current concerns is the lack of underplanting in woodland schemes, for which there is no provision in Stewardship schemes. I commend you to his lovely book, Where Have All The Flowers Gone?, which explains a difficult subject clearly and in typically practical terms. As he points out, this is the problem with meadow creation; meadows are hugely alluring to folk, but they are put off by the mass of apparently conflicting advice about their establishment and management. There is no “one size fits all” answer to individual sites and circumstances. That’s the whole point.
Excellent Radio 4 Programme on Bumblebees:
“the best plants for bees…the old fashioned herbs, perennials that people used to grow in their gardens” (Dave Goulson). PLEASE don’t buy sterile modern hybrids.
Today we’ve launched our historical herb collections, some of which might sound frivolous (Plague Garden?), but all of which actually have a serious intent. Although they’re a bit of fun, the collections’ historical context allows us to promote some unusual and half-forgotten herbs and native plants, and true species rather than less useful modern cultivars. All good stuff for pollinators, which is why half of the profit we make on them is going to either the LASI at Sussex University or the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. There are lots of good plants in the British Beekeeper’s Association 2010 (there’s a depressing thought) calendar as well, which I had a sneak preview of today. It seems like an ideal stocking filler for the beekeeper in your life, but perhaps more importantly there’s a lot of gardening advice here and information for anyone with a general interest in helping wildlife. Nice photos too. Profits all go to the BBKA; you can pre-order directly from them here.