"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626


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Monday, 30 January 2012

A Start with the Bee Plants & Bombus lapidarius sketch

I have spent many, many hours over the past month reading books, seed catalogues and online advice about how to plan the garden, what to plant, where and why. The planning has involved a lot of staring at the mud patch, a huge amount of digging and moving barrow loads of soil from A to B and then on to C and sometimes back to A again. We have added a couple of new paths, constructed two simple raised beds, (hopefully correctly placed and orientated) and excavated a small hole, now plastic lined and water filled which will, without doubt, become a magnificent wildlife pond. 

 Some fascinating pond progress:

pond 1  

pond 2

pond 25

pond 3

It’s a small thing, but wonderful because a patch of shimmering sky has suddenly appeared in the lawn and, when the light is right, is bounced up into the kitchen to dance high on the tops of the cabinets and ripple on the ceiling..Quite lovely.

 Planting the pond

This is not my first pond but the first I have tried to create with regard to native plants and wildlife. Luckily I found the extremely helpful Puddleplants who can provide wildlife friendly collections for native and ornamental ponds. So the pond is now started and after some excellent advice from Annette at Puddle, the first plants to go in are: 

Deep water plant: Fringe Lily,
Oxygenator: Starwort 
Marginals: Marsh marigold, Purple loosestrife, Yellow flag, Water mint, Forget me not, Bog bean, Brooklime, Cotton grass, Carex and Penny Royal.

I will add more as they become available, but (and this is doomed to fail) will try not to plant too much. It’s a problem because I tend to get over-excited about the possibilities and over-optimistic about the greenness of my fingers.
I am beginning to edge the pond with stones, have made two escape slopes for hedgehogs and small mammals, have an overhang to create a shade area and some old roof tiles and bits of wood waiting to be placed around the edge which will give cover for frogs etc.
I won’t be having any fish. Advice indicates they are not compatible with other wildlife, although I did like to see the brilliant orange flashes of my small goldfish in the previous pond who, for years, seemed to share their home companionably with frogs, newts and sticklebacks.

And more working bee drawings…

Working on the the garden, revising the rats nest of electrics in the roof and trying to get some heart into the ugly bungalow by opening up the chimney for a woodburner, seem to have caused a huge and disproportionate amount  of mess and chaos. Everything has been covered in plaster dust and mud and my work room has been piled up with “stuff” so artwork has had to take a back seat for a couple of weeks. But I am back to the working sketches now and to Bombus lapidarius, the Red Tailed or Stone, Bumble Bee.

I never get tired of watching this bee. Luckily for us they are very common. The queens are big and extremely beautiful, so very velvet black and so very flame red. They were the stars of my bee walks at Heligan. Every day for two weeks, at 2.00 pm,  perfectly on cue, the workers zoomed in and out of their nest. We would walk over to a patch of rather unpromising ground by a tree where there was a small hole in the earth. “Just watch” was all I had to say. The Oohhs, Ahhhs and delighted smiles were very rewarding.

They like to nest on the ground, under things, often at the base of walls or under sheds (yes…I am hopeful).. hence the name the Stone Bumble Bee. I have been looking out on BWARS for early sightings, one was possibly seen on Christmas Day but nothing reported since then.  Looking at the forecast for this week I hope they are still hunkered down.
I am still undecided about the flower. The possibilities are many because they forage from a wide range of plants.  Thoughts are maybe a scabious of some kind.

lap rev lap3 bg

PS. Most fun and satisfying recent gardening activity: buying a cheap garden shredder to chop up the massive pile of mixed hedge loppings and then using them for mulch… How green are we?? …3 hrs of legal and productive destruction…highly recommended :)


Going Native said...

I think watching bees, and birds, is a great form of meditation. So is watching the reflection in water. And shredding all those cuttings had to feel great. I am still in the depth of winter so your posts are welcome.

Diana Studer said...

Love to see your pond again, when the first plants go in.

Anonymous said...

Wish I had as much progress to show for my time. Hope you will show the yard again as it progresses.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the idea of building a small pond!!

Town Mouse said...

Love the pond! That will be so pretty with the waterplants.

Shady Gardener said...

I'm very excited for you with regard to your new pond! And yes, look at that reflection! :-) You will truly enjoy it - and we will too, because we'll look forward to your posts!! Have a great day!

Jarnie Godwin said...

Gosh you are very industrious. I love your pond, I am sure it will be a wildlife haven to be proud of.

sharp green pencil said...

Thank you all and sorry about late reply. My cold and shoulder injury have conspired together to prevent me doing anything much for a week. I am itching to get going with the garden more ..but perhaps the snow and ice have been a good thing and stopped me " overdoing it"..
I hope the little pond plants survive the ice,,but then they are UK natives..so fingers crossed.

GN: funny that after your comment we too, have now returned to the depth of winter!

moonsword said...

Wonderful progress...sometimes the most beautiful flowers are the slowest bloomers. It's so inspiring to see your work, both in restoring life to your home and garden, and in your journey with the bees...many thanks for sharing! :)

Jane Adams said...

Wow, haven't you been busy! I love your pond - I'm hoping to extend mine in the next few years - you can never have a big enough pond! I've been researching bee plants this evening and dreaming about Yellow loosestrife, Lungwort, Tansy & Bugle covered in bees! A girl can dream!