Our environmental expert, Tim Field, has been working alongside our Market Garden and Farm teams to find areas across the Daylesford Estate to be planted with pollen and nectar rich flowering crops, to give our precious pollinators as much vital help as possible.
As the field margins and corners are sown with flowering seed varieties, Tim gives an update on this exciting project which is so close to our founder’s heart.
In recent years we have planted orchards, sown fields of sainfoin and clover, left flowering vegetable crops in the ground and sown our own cut flowers – all providing food for our essential pollinators. Over the last 12 months we have been working on yet more initiatives to expand on this, thanks to some progressive farming techniques.
On the farm, our field margins and corners will be sown with a new mix of pollen and nectar rich flowering plants. The varieties this year will include pretty vetch, birds-foot trefoil, oxeye daisy and field scabious. These margins are intentionally left uncultivated or cropped in order to leave space for nature.
However, we also feel it is important to create habitat throughout the rest of the field and never create ‘no-fly zones’ from pesticide sprays. Instead, we are practicing an unusual technique called inter-cropping, where between each row of cereal crop another crop is sown. In our case it will be oats and vetch – the vetch will provide plenty of food for bees and beneficial insects and because it turns nitrogen from the air into fertiliser beneath the ground, it will naturally help feed the oat crop.
We have also created new areas of bare soil, such as the ground around the Kitchens of Daylesford, which rather than sowing to grass, we have planted with flowering seed varieties to create a blanket of wild flowers. Even the roof on our newly built bar, The Legbar, has been sown with flowering seeds – sedum which will help to insulate the roof and slow storm water while benefitting our pollinators.
There is plenty that all of us can do at home to help provide food and habitat for bees and other pollinators
Try some of these tips this summer:
1. Clover and other flowering plants in the lawn aren’t a bad thing – they are great for bees, will help keep your lawn looking green in a dry summer, and feed the grass with natural nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
2. Sow and grow your own cut flowers – lots of them! Look out for pollinator friendly varieties, like the seeds we sell in the Garden shop.
3. If you’re planting perennial flowers, make sure they are good for pollinators too. Double petal varieties tend to be of less value than single petal varieties, as the bees can get right down into the pollen and nectar.
4. Try and have some flowering plants all through the year – from snowdrops and crocuses in the spring to ivy in the autumn. If possible, leave ivy on walls and trees – it is a great habitat for bees and other wildlife.
5. Bees need a drink, too. Particularly in winter when they’re trying to desolidify honey stores, or in the summer when it is particularly dry. Consider how the bee might get in and out of a pond though – some large stones are a good idea.