Cheshire Wildlife Trust is working locally with communities to promote the importance of Cheshire’s bees, through its ‘Wildlife Friendly Garden Awards’ scheme, and its new Wildlife Garden at Bickley Hall Farm.
The call comes as a result of pressure bees face, following the loss of habitats. In the countryside, 97% of lowland meadow has already been lost and the network of 15 million gardens, that once formed ‘green corridors’ for wildlife, is rapidly disappearing. The number of front gardens that have been paved over has tripled in a decade, with over five million having no plant life at all.
At Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s headquarters, Bickley Hall Farm, a new garden area is being developed using funds from the Tesco ‘Bags of Help’ scheme. The Wildlife Garden will have fruit trees and vegetable beds, nectar rich flowers and bee hives, as well as a polytunnel to keep the plants happy come rain or shine.
“We will be using this garden for visiting school children, so that they can learn about bees’ and pollinators’ roles in fruit and vegetable growing,” said Nick Rowles, People and Wildlife Officer at Cheshire Wildlife Trust.
“Many children don’t know where food comes from and they lack basic gardening skills. We want to do something about this. Food and farming sessions at Bickley will allow children to learn not only about growing food, but they will also have opportunities to cook and taste some of the garden produce too. In the long term, we hope that the garden will become a care farm and centre of horticultural therapy, run by and for adults with learning difficulties, alongside other volunteers.”
Cheshire Wildlife Trust is also empowering residents to look after bees through its ‘Wildlife Friendly Gardening Award’ scheme. The scheme is open to everyone. It doesn’t matter how big or small the outdoor space, as long as it is possible to showcase what has been done to help wildlife. This might be through creating a mini wildflower meadow, avoiding chemical weed killers or building insect hotels. Entries to the scheme receive a plaque, certificate, gardening booklet and a wildlife spotter’s card.
Further details about Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s ‘Wildlife Friendly Gardening Award’ and how to enter can be found on their website.
The Royal Horticultural Society and The Wildlife Trusts will be arming gardeners with the advice, insights and inspiration they need to create habitats ready for the spring. These will support wild bees as they emerge from their nests to forage for food. A wild bee-friendly gardening guide is free to download.
Wildlife events and a ‘Bee Creative’ photo competition will also take place from 1st April to 1st November 2017, as bees buzz during the gardener’s growing season before looking for nesting sites in the autumn. To take part and find local events visit www.cheshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/whats-on. People can enter their pictures on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, using #wildaboutgardens.