Tuesday, 25 June 2013

BEES - here today, gone tomorrow?

"SORRY" - well, that makes a difference (NOT). So here is a story: I plant my garden for NATURE. No it is not the tidiest garden & sometimes I get irritated when snails eat my bedding plants. But, hedgehogs visit my garden & eat the snails. Indeed, some years ago there was even a badger (once).

Through my garden, foxes will pass every night and squirrels are often seen in the day. And the birds, at dawn and dusk, I hear them sing so beautifully and during the day they will skip through honeysuckle and clematis as they eat the aphids they find. On the path too, I often see small trails of tiny ants - busily going about their business. Indeed, when I sit and just watch and listen - I can see a whole eco system supported in my small garden.

I have such a very small garden that at first, when I pulled up the gravel and the plastic sheeting underneath, some people passing by commented I was crazy to be 'ruining' such a tidy and low maintenance garden. Yes, it was going to be a little bit more work for me and yes, I was always busy with a variety of projects. BUT one day I saw a butterfly - so delighted I watched it flutter along but then it was gone as - there was no reason for it to stop. There was no food for this tiny critter in my garden. Having just bought the house the garden had been made 'presentable' for sale and it was virtually devoid of nature. I wanted to restore the balance.

My dad would gather and scatter poppy seeds
(these orange ones scattered by him).
I felt strongly about providing a habitat for nature but I could hardly get all my neighbours and everyone I knew to do the same. BUT I could do something in my own small patch of ground. The garden had actually been built on a piece of waste ground where rocks had been dumped and once through a thin layer of top soil - it was a mess. It took me a week and the back breaking removal of 3 wheelie bin fulls of big stones to get it ready for the richer soil I brought in. At the end, yes, it looked amazing - so neat and tidy and full of potential. BUT so many years later, it's not so tidy now but has been more loved by nature than ever. But I just used past tense because things have changed.

In this time of economic cut backs I got a very 'costly' visit from the Council (a fatal visit for the eco system of my garden). Having lived in my house for over 15 years for the first time someone was sent out to maintain the pavement from any weeds. In all the years I have lived here this was never done before. If any weeds did show then I would tidy them away.

Was it a problem for me, to have nature visit my garden? If it was it certainly never registered that it was unacceptable (I did not find it a problem to take 5 mins, one or twice a year to tidy the border of my garden where it met the pavement). However, in 2013 - someone in their wisdom decided there was a problem and sent a person with weed killer to "tidy up nature". Was the person tired? Were they not being careful? Did it not even enter their head that they should be careful? Whatever happened exactly is that weedkiller was not just sprayed on the pavement but WEEDKILLER WAS PUT ALL ALONG THE FRONT OF MY GARDEN (and everything was killed).

I arrived home to find a pile of dying snails by my gate and all along the border. And over the days the beautiful display of flowers bent their heads, their leaves shrivelled up and they died. On the other side of the 2 cm thick fence, I wait to see if the honeysuckle and clematis will survive. But, at the front of the garden where bees buzzed around the flowers - now there is silence. The squirrels which were also making a come back, they too have been missing for days (perhaps avoiding the smell of the pesticide? I don't know). Yet, is this all a story of gloom? Well, the Council has sent down an inspection team and they have contacted me to confirm that YES all the plants they have accidently sprayed are now dead (I did think that was obvious) so what is the end result? Well - "they are very sorry" Ah good, well then - that makes all the difference - does it?

As my dad would say "what is a weed but a flower by another name"

Lastly, I finish today with this story from America where bee owners are experiencing the complete collapse of many bee hive populations. Indeed, bees from Australia (where certain now banned pesticides were not used) - bees not subjected to these pesticides are being exported to try and restock the world population. And I point out that this is obviously not a sustainable solution as almost as fast as new arriving bees are being sent out to pollinate crops, the bees are dying in their millions (towns and cities almost becoming a safer environment for bees). I passionately believe that we all need to do what we can to help save bees...

To see what you can do to help - do a Google search and find groups you can join and work with in your area (every little helps). By all means, you can also repost and share this blog with your friends online. Many thanks, Shona.

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