Tales from the Garden – The Colourful Joys of Spring
What a difference a few weeks make! The sun has been shining and it feels a little warmer, or might that just be wishful thinking? The first therapeutic horticulture group of the year has been on the go for a couple of weeks now and we have been enjoying bringing spring vibes to the rooftop garden.
We have also begun sowing and pricking out sunflowers ready for planting out in the hospice gardens over the coming weeks.
A member of the group, who previously enjoyed gardening but struggles with her dexterity now, said following the first session “I really enjoyed today; it is something I didn’t think I’d be able to do again.”
If you read last month’s blog you might be wondering what we were going to do with the birch and beech twigs from the garden, well we made spring flowering ‘nests’ for the patients to take home. They will be able to plant the bulbs in their own garden or give them away to a relative or friend once the bulbs have finished flowering. The patients really enjoyed making them and hopefully the bulbs will continue to be enjoyed in the years to come.
World Bee Day is coming up on 20th May, so with this in mind we are starting our ‘Plant it Forward’ project. Over the coming months we will be making things that support pollinating insects. Patients will be able to take these home to pass on to friends, relatives and carers. All pollinators, even the much maligned wasp, are so important to us as they pollinate most of our fruit, vegetables and flowers. We would certainly be lost without them.
I have to admit though, of all the pollinators bees are my favourite. I love watching them flying around from plant to plant in search of nectar, collecting pollen on their hairy little bodies as they go along. They certainly live up to their name of ‘busy bees’.
There are many different bees. Some live together in colonies, others live a solitary life, but all do good work and on a recent walk around the gardens I captured a photo of this little chap, which I believe is a common carder bee. They are social insects and one the earliest of the carder bees to emerge from their nests in cavities or old birds’ nests in spring. Carder bees have long tongues and feed on tubular flowers such as clover and lavender. This one was enjoying the tasty delights of a wallflower on the rooftop garden.
We have lots of pollinator-friendly plants in the gardens, such as roses, lavender, alliums, helenium and sedum, but there is always room for more! We will be planting more plants around the hospice gardens over the coming months and I will tell you more about them in future blog posts.
Two beautiful spring gems can be found in the in-patient garden at the moment, bergenia and drumstick primulas are pollinator friendly and so colourful. The leaves of the bergenia are evergreen so are really good for winter interest in the garden too.
Well that’s it for now. Just before I go, as we start to move from late spring into early summer, I encourage you (if you can) to plant some pollinator friendly plants. I hope you can enjoy watching our friendly little allies go about their busy business.
If you are thinking of doing some volunteering and would like to help us look after our gardens, we would love to hear from you and welcome you to our team. You can find out more on the hospice website by clicking here.
Bumblebee Conservation Trust: www.bumblebeeconservation.org
National Gardening Week information (early May), can be found here: www.rhs.org.uk