There’s an age-old saying: “You’ll attract more bees with honey than vinegar.” It’s a lesson we’d all be wise to heed, although a dash of vinegar can also go a long way at times! But the UK’s Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is now promoting its own brand of honey so that gardeners across the land can bring the buzz back into their lives literally.
And it’s one of those simple but brilliant ideas that leaves you wondering why on earth it hasn’t happened until now … A “Perfect for Pollinators” plant list and a logo for plant labels so they can scream out BEE FRIENDLY! Well Pollinator friendly, to be precise. It’s a great idea, don’t you think?
The ‘RHS Perfect for Pollinators’ label was developed when writer and broadcaster Sarah Raven approached the charity with the idea of flagging up to gardeners plants most suitable for pollinators. “Gardens are vital havens for pollinators because they tend to include a much greater diversity of pollen and nectar sources available over a longer period than commercially managed agricultural land,” says Roger Williams, Head of Science RHS. “This is the sort of initiative we should be involved in to help gardeners be more environmentally friendly. The list and the logo, we hope, will be a practical way to help gardeners really focus in on plants that are best for pollinating insects. We are really pleased to have the support of the Horticultural Trades Association and a real interest from garden centres across the country.”
Over the last 50 years a decline in many groups of insects has been noticed. These include some of the common butterflies, moths, hoverflies and bees, explains the RHS. The reason for this is complex but part of the problem may be the reduction in the abundance of wild flowers in the countryside. Gardens with their variety of flowers are increasingly being seen as an important habitat where insects can find sources of nectar and pollen.
“The days of punnets of strawberries costing £50 is fast upon us,” says Sarah Raven. “Without insects busying themselves on our behalf pollinating fruit and vegetables, a healthy diet of ‘five a day’ will soon be gone.”
The RHS advises that there are a number of things gardeners can do to help insects. It suggests;
- Gardeners should consult the RHS Perfect for Pollinator list www.rhs.org.uk/plants when selecting plants
- Look out for the RHS Perfect for Pollinator logo in garden centres and nurseries
- Avoid plants with double or multi-petal flowers
- Aim to have plants in flower from early spring to late autumn
- Think about using British wild flowers as additions to planting schemes
- Observe the plants in your garden and plant more of those that attract insects
So all you keen gardeners out there in the UK go for it and look at out for RHS logo. For those of you in other countries, see if there’s a similar scheme in your region and let me know. If there isn’t … maybe you could act to get one started!?!