The Beast from the East blew in freezing temperatures to the UK last February. Then we had record-breaking heat in the same month in 2019. I hear about the changing climate every day!
Soon I will have to mow the lawn, the first time I have ever done this in March. Already I have seen an enthusiastic bee toiling in the sunshine. Yet the only offering in the garden at this time of the year is a lone winter flowering jasmine, now past its best.
This has made me think about things we can do now, as the garden awakens, to encourage the declining bee population to flourish in our gardens, patios and balconies. Just think of a future without bees: limited food choices for us and many species, including birds, disappearing altogether. We are all connected, so it’s essential we understand how this will impact us long term.
Three of the best bee-friendly plants I have had success with year after year are Buddleia, Lavender and Fuchsia. Easy to grow and keep compact, they reward with a long flowering season and beautiful scents... still more fragrant after sunset. All are suitable for small gardens, patios, even a balcony. Never mind the bees; I’m out there to put my feet up after a day at the office. And if you are worried about them buzzing around you, relax, they will have already gone to bed!
Tempted? We need to get planting in the spring as soon as the threat of ground frost has lifted. In my garden, all these plants have survived the hot and cold extremes in February. They may need a little cutting back in the spring if you want to keep them compact.
Try a dwarf, deep purple Buddleia paired with blue, purple and white Lavender and a variety of colourful Fuchsias. All you need for a fantastic display and magnets for wildlife – they attract butterflies and snapdragons too.
Why stop there, I say? I have a small garden, but there is still always more I can do. Much can be achieved by changing the lawn... into a maintenance-free air filter. I give you: the moss lawn! I learned that this will help to reduce CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions. Clean the air and save my back from the effort of moving traditional grass! Or why not create a moss wall? Moss air filters are making an appearance in many cities around the world.
Each ‘city tree’ removes carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter from the air while producing oxygen. A single ‘tree’ is able to absorb 250 grams of particulate matter a day and remove 240 metric tons of CO2 each year – that’s roughly the same as the effect of 275 urban trees. Looking at how small it is and how powerful. I can certainly create something like this in my garden.
Planting a tree will also help to reduce CO2. I have 2 small Japanese Maples (Acers) in the back of my garden, renowned for their air filter qualities. If you want to go this route or do it in a more scientific way, there are ways of calculating and offsetting carbon, and many good sources for buying a suitable tree.
How much more might you enjoy the garden when you know that a little planning is your own personal way of showing how much you love the planet?