Praise for allotments and “weedy corners”!

by Annie Sutcliffe

Recent research, published in the journal "Nature Ecology and Evolution", which examined land use in cities, has identified pollinators’ favourite places and flowers.

The results suggest that the best way to support a rich mix of pollinator species, resilient to climate change and other challenges, is to increase the number of allotments.  They are particularly good places for pollinators because they provide a mix of fruit and vegetable flowers, plus weedy corners full of native plants.

Planting appropriate flowers in gardens also helps, as does less-frequent mowing of the grass in public parks, allowing flowers to bloom (a strategy being adopted by Stevenage Borough Council).

 

The scientists also identified the flowers most visited by bees, hoverflies and other pollinators. Native favourites included brambles, buttercups, dandelions, creeping thistle, common hogweed and ox-eye daisies, with the non-native plants that attracted the most pollinators being lavender, borage, butterfly bushes and common marigolds

Dandelions are particularly useful as an early nectar source in the spring, so allow them to show off their beautiful flowers before grubbing them out!

 

Whilst we may not be too keen on some of the native species colonising our plots, do try to make space for a patch of lavender and you will be rewarded with the sight of bees buzzing around the flowers all summer, as well as having a source of cut or dried flowers – not least for some delicious lavender shortbread! https://www.countrywives.co.uk/mary-berry-lavender-shortbread-biscuits/

 

Borage, whilst keen to seed around, can be used as a green manure, fertilizer "tea" and compost accelerator, in the same way as comfrey.