Lancashire author Maureen Little on how to create your own bee garden

PUBLISHED: 10:00 27 April 2012 | UPDATED: 21:20 20 February 2013

Lancashire author Maureen Little on how to create your own bee garden

Lancashire author Maureen Little on how to create your own bee garden

The buzz from author Maureen Little is all about helping us create gardens that are hives of activity

I do have a bee in my bonnet about how important bees are and I try to make as many people as possible aware of their significance by giving talks to all kinds of societies and clubs.

It goes back to when I first started helping a friend look after his bees. I had no idea that honeyed words, as well as honey, would soon be flowing and that I would become the author of two books.

My friend and professional beekeeper, Craig Hughes, asked me to write a chapter about gardening for his book, Urban Beekeeping. I realised, almost as soon as I started, that there was much more information I wanted to share that couldnt be condensed into just one chapter. It also struck me that, despite the interest in the plight of the honey bee, not everyone was able to keep them in their gardens.

So what could I do? The answer presented itself: if we all planted a few bee-friendly flowers in our garden, we could all do our bit for our buzzy friends. And so my single seed of a chapter grew into a full-blown book The Bee Garden. It contains in-depth information and practical advice about why bees are important, how they feed and which varieties of plants are best for them.

It came out last spring and has had excellent reviews and the publishers must have been pleased because they soon asked me to write a companion volume. This new book, Plants and Planting Plans for a Bee Garden, contains tips about how to design an attractive and bee-friendly border and which plants to choose. It also offers over 20 planting plans to help you put everything into practice. I am doing a book-signing on May 5 at Waterstones in Preston, so please come along and say hello!

It is really exciting to find out how many people are interested in bees, and even more exciting when you get a letter telling you that, as a result of a talk, someone has looked again at their garden and planted lots of bee-friendly plants. As well as having been booked by a number of societies for this year, I am also leading some courses on the subject at The Garden Studio, a specialist plant nursery and garden design studio in Tarleton, owned by my friend and fellow designer, Tricia Brown.

Tricia is also holding a Bee-friendly Day on June 4 and you will find a wealth of information about bees and beekeeping, as well as guidance on the right plants. There will be bee-themed stalls, local honey for sale, and lots of fun for all the family, with special games and activities for children. Tricia and I will both be on hand to offer advice.

In addition to the Bee-friendly Day in June, Tricia is also planning some Bee Keeping Taster Days, led by Craig Hughes of Crossmoor Honey Farm, near Great Eccleston. It will be a good opportunity for people to find out whats involved with beekeeping without committing themselves fully, Tricia tells me. Im joining in, too!

Tricias family-run nursery specialises in home-grown, hardy and semi-hardy perennials but she also has a good range of trees, shrubs and herbs. As well as having first-class knowledge about all aspects of gardening, Tricia is also a qualified garden designer and offers short courses in both horticulture and garden design. These take place in her purpose-built studio where participants can gain practical as well as theoretical understanding of horticultural subjects from how to sow seeds to how to design an entire garden and everything in between!

Furthermore, Tricia runs a lively monthly Gardening Club where members can learn about gardening, enjoy practical sessions, and can also look forward to outings to well-known gardens during the season. Its serious, but light-hearted at the same time, she says. We have lots of fun, especially with the hands-on sessions many a manicured hand has ended up the worse for wear!

Pollen power

Away from areas containing farm crops, honey bees must find garden flowers to get their fix of nectar and pollen. You can encourage them into your garden by planting single flowering plants and veg. Try the allium family, all the mints, beans and flowering herbs. Bees definitely dont like insecticides but they do like daisy-shaped flowers - asters and sunflowers along with taller plants like hollyhocks, larkspur and foxgloves. You can contact Maureen on 01772 729227 or at Tricia is at The Garden Studio, Southport New Road, Tarleton, PR4 6HX. Tel: 01772 812672

The print version of this article appeared in the May 2012 issue of Lancashire Life
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