Luke Dixon’s ‘Keeping Bees in Towns and Cities‘ shows aspiring bee-keepers how to start keeping bees and look after a colony in the most urban and perhaps unexpected of areas. However, back in the countryside, a number of scientific studies have shown that the use of one of the world’s most popular neonicotinoid pesticides is contributing to a worrying decline in bee and other pollinator populations.
Photograph: © Peter Barritt/ Alamy
A recent article in The Guardian looked at criticism by MPs in the Environmental Audit Committee of European regulators’ collective ‘blind eye’ to the links between systemic pesticides and the decline in bee numbers, as well as examining the dangerous half-life of insecticides which build up in the soil and cause bees to become disorientated, eventually leading to a failure to produce enough queens.
© Jason Bathe (photo taken from 'Keeping Bees in Towns & Cities')
Whether the increasing evidence of high ‘concentrations (of pesticides) very likely to cause mass mortality in most soil-dwelling animal life’ will bring about a change in EU pesticides regulation, remains to be seen.
© Richard Twilton (photo taken from 'Keeping Bees in Towns and Cities')
Source article copyright: © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
In a recent Guardian article, both Helen Babbs, author of My Garden, the City and Me and writer of the piece, and Piet Oudolf have a great deal of useful advice about changing your approach to deadheading, finding the charm in decay and how to balance the colour palettes of life and death.
© 2005-2011 Craig M Rath - All rights reserved
Other designers agree that garden life must go on for decaying plants: ’”Every garden should include some plants that die beautifully.” This odd-sounding assertion comes from landscape designer Tom Stuart-Smith. While most gardeners expect a growing space to feel alive, he believes mortality should be designed in – the dead and the dying, he says, have a lot to offer, aesthetically and practically.
“It’s about a shift in perception of what is and isn’t valuable and beautiful ,” says wildlife garden designer Elaine Hughes. Thinking about death is a way of broaching wider questions about the point of gardens. Far from macabre, for her the vegetal dieback is life-affirming and certainly doesn’t have to be ugly.’
And if you’re not yet persuaded when looking out onto the wintery horizon at your decaying plants that death becomes them, here’s a link to the article in full.
© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
Photo: Alamy (© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2012)
Many of you will be aware that British ash trees are in increasing danger from Chalara ash dieback, a disease that’s spreading throughout Central Europe and has already wiped out almost 90% of Denmark’s ash trees.
A ban on imports of ash trees is now in place and has been met by a mixed reaction from many conservationists*. Timber Press author and Head of Kew Arboretum, Tony Kirkham has spoken publicly in the past about the need for improved biosecurity and greater control on tree imports. He has also suggested an alternative model on which the UK could base its approach to importing trees safely, “I bring in trees from Germany but they are grown on in a nursery for a year and any problems can be sorted out there. We have to introduce something like that”**.
We at Timber will be keeping a close eye on the news in the coming weeks, as we’re sure you will be too, in the hope that the import ban will go some way towards saving our ash trees and preventing the spread of this disastrous disease before it’s too late.
*From article in © independent.co.uk
**Quote sourced from article in Horticulture Week, Haymarket Business Media © 1957 – 2012
First we weren’t sure we wanted it, now we have withdrawal symptoms – bring back the Olympics! Thankfully we have the Paralympics to look forward to… and of course the lovely Olympic Park’s 2012 Gardens will provide inspiration for years to come.
Located between the Aquatics Centre and the Olympic Stadium, along the banks of the Waterworks River, the 2012 Gardens pay homage to Britain’s long history of trade, exploration and plant collecting.
Divided into four climatic zones: Europe, Southern Hemisphere, Asia, and North America, the contemporary perennial plantings are set out in a naturalistic style.
We visited the North American zone where prairie plants provide summer flower colour and a late supply of nectar and pollen for wildlife.
Allium 'summer beauty'
Verbena bonariensis and Rudbeckia maxima
The full plant list can be found here.
Montpelier Cottage, Whitney-On-Wye, is the garden of Timber Press author Noel Kingsbury. As part of the National Gardens Scheme, Noel opens his private garden several times a year, donating all proceeds to charity.
Noel’s garden is an excellent example of a naturalistic approach to planting design - and we’re sure you’ll agree from the pictures below that the results are stunning.
We were lucky enough to visit on August 12 — but don’t despair if you missed out as Sunday September 16th will see Montpelier Cottage open its gates once again.
View across the gravel garden to the Pavilion
Hollyhocks self-seeded and crossed to make new colour
British native persicaria
Richard Booth’s Bookshop in Hay-on-Wye is a sight to behold. Well-known to those who attend the annual Hay Festival, it is the largest bookshop in the town, which is itself an international attraction as the world’s first ‘Town of Books’.
Located at 44 Lion Street, the vast three level building has been a mecca for book lovers since 1962. Packed with over 500,000 volumes - secondhand, antiquarian and new books – it is the staff which sets this bookshop apart. Specialist department heads source titles from around the world, meaning rare first editions often appear on the bookshelves.
The bookshop also has a bustling cafe which offers breakfast, lunch and sweet treats, perfect for those who will end up spending the whole day browsing and reading. The cherry on top comes in the form of a cinema, featuring eclectic film programmes covering current blockbusters, black and white silent movies and the best of world cinema.
If you’re in the area, you must stop in.
The Lavender Lover’s Handbook by Sarah Berringer Bader (£18.99) is an essential resource for finding the best varieties of lavender. Whether you want to create a dramatic border or an exquisite herb garden, this rich primer gives easy, proven tips for growing, harvesting, drying, cooking and crafting with this wonderful herb.
Here’s a fantastic recipe from page 156 of the book we’d like to share… perfect for thirsty athletes and Olympic spectators alike!
- 250 ml (4 cups) water
- 200 g (1 cup) sugar or honey
- 28 g (2 tablespoons) dried lavender buds or 57 g (4 tablespoons) fresh lavender
- 250 ml (1 cup) lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- Lavender sprigs for garnish
- Combine the water, sugar or honey, and lavender in a saucepan and heat for approximately 10 minutes or until the mixture begins to boil. Remove from the heat and allow to steep until cool, about 20 minutes.
- Pour the mixture through a fine-screened colander or cheesecloth into a pitcher. Add the lemon juice and stir. Serve in glasses filled with ice and garnish with a lavender sprig or lemon wheel.
Best lavenders for culinary use:
- Lavandula angustifolia ‘Buena Vista’
- L. angustifolia ‘Folgate’
- L. angustifolia ‘Hidcote Pink’
- L. angustufolia ‘Melissa’
- L. angustifolia ‘Royal Velvet’
With all of the wet weather we’ve had in recent weeks, outdoor plants can use a helping hand. The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids (£12.99) by Whitney Cohen and John Fisher is packed with more than 100 family-friendly activities, including a recipe for homemade insect repellant which older children can whip up in no time at all.
Brewing up Homemade Insect Repellant
All-natural kitchen ingredients to keep insects off your garden plants.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 onion
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon washing up liquid
- 1 (680 ml spray bottle)
- Food processor
Here’s what you’ll do:
- Peel the onion and garlic clove.
- Blend the entire onion and garlic clove in the food processor.
- Measure and add 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper. Blend again.
- Wash your hands well. Cayenne pepper can burn if you accidentally rub it in your eyes.
- Scoop blended ingredients into a spray bottle and fill almost to the top. Let the mixture sit for at least 1 hour.
- Add 1 tablespoon of washing up liquid to the mixture and shake vigorously.
- The strong odors and tastes should deter insects from eating your plants, so spray your mixture onto the leaves of garden plants you want to protect, such as the leaves of a tomato or potato plant. Do not use on plants grown for their edible leaves, such as lettuce or kale.
- When you are ready to harvest and prepare your vegetables, wash vigorously to avoid a spicy surprise.
Also try this:
You can set up a simple experiment to test the effectiveness of your insect repellant. Plant an entire bed with the same plant, then spray bug juice on half of the plants. Then watch how the different halves of your bed handle pressure from local pests.
If you like this project, why not buy the book? Get your copy here
After the wettest April to June on record and heavy downpours in July, snails and slugs have taken over the garden. But what can be done about these slimy pests?
Teri Dunn Chance, author of The Anxious Gardener’s Book of Answers says, ’If you’ve lost a lot of plants to slugs, mere traps and barriers may not be your first line of attack. Take a fresh look at your garden and do some tidying and grooming. Get rid of weeds as well as old pots or other garden debris that may be harboring slug populations. Try to dry out the area by thinning dense plantings and improving drainage. Reduce or eliminate mulch.’
‘Use insecticidal soaps to control garden pests,’ urge Jeff Gillman and Meleah Maynard, authors of Decoding Gardening Advice. Insecticidal soap is a great cure for infestations of soft-bodied insects and gastropods. Why reach for more toxic alternatives when you can reduce the population with safer alternatives? You can even use a homemade spray using washing up soap, hot pepper or garlic.
Please share any alternative methods you have with us – we’d love to hear your suggestions!
Take a look at why The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids is the best buy you’ll make this summer!
The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids by Whitney Cohen and John Fisher is an inspiring guide which offers simple, practical advice as it takes you step-by-step through more than 100 engaging, family-friendly garden activities.
In July you can buy The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids for £9.74, a 25% saving off the retail price of £12.99. Just enter the code KIDS20 at the checkout on our website before July 31st to claim this offer.