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Meadow garden and bees

Having a south facing garden has been quite a challenge this year, we have had weeks of very hot sunshine and not a drop of rain, while other parts of the country had some rain, our grass went brown and a lot of plants died, being on a water meter did not help, although we did use grey water.
So the only plants that really did well in the north facing front garden and south facing back garden were meadow plants, Scabies, Cornflowers, Russian sage, forget-me-nots, Verbena, the bees loved them, we had so many and two colony's, one in a box, one in a mouse hole. There were some on my borders, Phlox, Gallardia, Hot lips Salvia did well, but needed some assistance with watering. 
So we have dug up the front garden, again, and decided to turn it into a meadow, with grasses and wild flowers. The ferns really suffered this year, sadly they have been lifted as well and the area behind and around the sides of the pond, in the back garden, will also become a small meadow. 
I was wondering if a garden 48' long x 38' wide with lots of flowers bees love, plus a wildlife pond and bird baths etc would be suitable for a Bee hive?
I would also like any advice from anyone who has turned their garden or part of, into a meadow, any tips or warnings would be useful and appreciated. We are great country lovers and spend a lot of time walking the hills, fields and woods, so we would like to do our bit, because so much is being taken with concrete houses replacing the homes of wildlife.


  • FireFire Posts: 18,946
    edited October 2021
    On the question of honey bees, it would be best to contact your local beekeeping association. They will offer guidance, workshops and longer courses on beekeeping so you can get to know the details involved, the costs and the upkeep. They will be be able to advise on the locations you have to offer and their suitability. I strongly suggest speaking in person to experts and spending some months studying and weighing up your situation. 

  • didywdidyw Posts: 3,527
    I second what @Fire said.  Our local beekeeping association is very friendly - always come to the rescue of swarms and are good at giving advice to people who want to keep bees, hopefully there will be one near you.   But it sounds as if you are creating a good environment for all sorts of pollinators. We've all suffered a bit in this prolonged dry spell and when some photos popped up on Facebook of the garden this time last year there were things still in bloom that finished for me a while ago this year.  Do you have any water butts?  If not, see if you can install one or two in the garden so you can keep the precious rainwater we are getting now - which is much better for plants than tap.
    Gardening in East Suffolk on dry sandy soil.
  • GwenrGwenr Posts: 150
    We have five Water butts and I save the water from the bathroom sink and the washing machine. But in our area we are known for being very dry, apart from today when our water butts are filling up really well.
  • Jac19Jac19 Posts: 496
    edited October 2021
    Last year I put a 25 cm high raised bed in 1 sq meter and sowed a couple of those best for bees mix seed packets.  In that and in a trough under my window.  This year, instead of bee/butterfly mixes, I have bought seeds of select plants I love for both bees and butterflies.  I was asking people here just the other day when would be best to clear last year's lot from the bed and the trough so that I can sow my new seeds.
    I have an extra trough to go under my other window for next year, too.

    I have sown mixes out in the wild in grassland, too.  There was a particular plant we sowed the first season that is a parasite on glass and helped thin out the grass naturally which we sowed the first year.  I can't remember exactly what it was. Was it cowslip??Anyway the next year, the grass was thinner.  We raked it up and sowed the bee & butterfly wild seed mixes directly onto the meadow.  Or the competition gom grass is fierce and they find it hard to get established.

    The ones I have for my patch and troughs are not all wildflowers, but the best flowers most beloved by bees and butterflies.  I have added some seeds suggested by people here. too.

    Maybe I could do this together with you. :smiley:
  • Jac19Jac19 Posts: 496
    I deep watered my east and south facing garden twice a week during the dry summer.  I never water the grass lawn because grass always bounces back.
  • Jac19Jac19 Posts: 496
    I would suggest establishing the wildflowers this season and leaving the grasses for next year.  Grasses are very aggressive and suck up water and nutrition very fast. The competition is too fierce from them for the flowers.   Grasses can get in there any time and you have to be careful they don't take over.
  • Jac19Jac19 Posts: 496
    Please help us with ideas.  I, too, am looking to do the same thing.
  • LynLyn Posts: 23,190
    It’s called Yellow Rattle
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • Jac19Jac19 Posts: 496
    edited October 2021
    Lyn said:
    It’s called Yellow Rattle
    Ah, right that's it.  I was thinking cowslips because they are also yellow.
  • Jac19Jac19 Posts: 496
    edited October 2021
    How did you attract your bee colonies, GR?  We have temporary scaffolding up for roof repairs and I have seen Bumbles crawling into one of the pipes, no doubt thinking it was a permanent structure that is good for making a home.  So, I bought a couple of those Bumble Bee wooden box houses the National Trust sells and put them around the garden with moss and a Vita swarm sachet in each, hoping to attract them. And a NT bird box I had around, too.

    The poor beauties are going to lose their honey home when they take down the scaffolding.  I have warned the workmen to be careful.
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