I celebrated summer solstice without any kind of hint of sunrise or sunset, as the weather had taken a turn in the south of England, where I was visiting family. A few days later however, we had some sunshine and took advantage of it by going to visit Waterperry Gardens, and I was thrilled to discover they have a Yew Henge, so I was able to take a moment to celebrate midsummer surrounded by magnificent yew standing stones, rather than the more traditional variety. Waterperry started life as a horticultural school for girls in the 1930s and today is home to 8 acres of beautifully landscaped ornamental gardens. Whilst, I think the henge was my favourite feature because it was so unexpected, I was really happy that the wisteria in the silent garden was still partially in bloom. I also loved the idea of the silent space, where all you could hear was the insects at work. On googling this just now, it turns out this is part of a Quiet Garden Movement which encourages the creation of quiet spaces in gardens for contemplation and prayer. Obviously my next move was to look and see if there are any listed in Lanarkshire, and while there aren't (yet!) there is a church in Bearsden working as part of the Rediscovering the Antonine Wall Project to develop a Roman-themed area which will include a place for quiet contemplation. So presumably you could walk there along the Antonine Wall from North Lanarkshire. I knew I would find a local link!
When I started to write, this was not where I was going! So, to get back on track, I had a wonderful afternoon exploring, wandering along the colour borders, which the bees were clearly enjoying as much as I was, and spending a long time marvelling at the proliferation of damselflies on the water lily canal. I also took my shoes off and spent some time walking barefoot on the grass. And so to pollinators! This week (until tomorrow 4th July) is Solitary Bee Week. Here's what their website has to say:
Solitary bees are the unsung hero of the pollinating world. With over 240 species in the UK alone, they make up 90% of the bee population and along with other pollinating animals are responsible for one third of all the food we eat. Due to the increased use of chemicals in farming and larger field sizes, their habitats have become increasingly under threat. There are fewer wildflower meadows and hedgerows, which used to provide ample homes to a wide range of wildlife. Also, as we build more properties and landscape our gardens, we unwittingly destroy solitary bee nesting sites.
So what can you do to help the solitary bees? Luckily the Solitary Bee Week gang have some ideas for you. For my part (as well as wearing stripes on Wednesday to raise awareness of the cause - and also because at least 50% of my wardrobe involves stripes) I've got a patch of bare earth in the garden (this is more by good luck than good judgement), but have also planted a wildflower patch and have a bee block on my windowsill. I'm still not always able to tell the difference between a honeybee, a bumble or a solitary bee - but knowing that there are SO many different species, encourages me to slow down and really look at who is out there working away on the flowers, making sure there is food for us to eat.
Happy Solitary Bee Week 2021!