Our plan bee
Head Gardener Rosie Fyles talks about the steps being taken in the garden at Ham House to help spaces flourish and our partnership with Clipper Teas.
Ham House Garden has for many years aimed to be bee-friendly and in the last three years or so, every gardening decision we make has involved asking the question, ‘Is this good for wildlife?’ Visiting the garden during late spring and summer the most obvious sign of a change in our gardening approach has been the development of biodiverse meadows where previously grass would have been cut short.
We are proud to be part of Clipper Tea’s partnership with the National Trust. This Organic September as part of Clipper Tea’s Meadows campaign, they are donating 10p per pack, for 500,000 packs of Clipper Tea, to National Trust’s Making Meadows appeal, totalling a £50,000 donation. This will help create and restore flower-rich grass and meadowland habitats, so life and colour can flourish once again.
Sometimes, a decision to actively garden for nature reduces workload – we might not be dead-heading as much, we aim to keep our short grass longer and mow less. However, ensuring wildlife is nurtured does also create more work at Ham too. We have far more self-seeding plants that in certain places we have to categorise as weeds and this inevitably means more weeding. When I’m kneeling in soil (again) hand-weeding or wielding a hoe in sunny weather, my motivation comes from the impact of each decision that we make that is good for nature. I might be providing a huge number of the 4000 flowers a day a single bee pollinates in one day. I know that the work we are doing has improved our range of pollinators too. We now have over 40 types of bees and wasps finding their food in our garden.
Gardening at Ham is on a 25-acre scale but at home, in my suburban garden I apply the same approaches. Star plant for bees is Echinops ritro, prickling above the grasses in front with its pale blue spheres providing breakfast, lunch and tea in late summer sun.