Growing flowers for bees Written by the Patch4Planet Facebook group Being a nature lover, I regularly read the news from conservation organisations like The Wildlife Trusts. As you may have noticed, there has been a lot written about the plight of our dwindling pollinators, particularly bees, which is a current and genuine cause for concern, not just for health and the future of our pollinator species but also to food production. The repeated message has been that this crisis has likely been man-made through the use of pesticides, but the good news is that everyone can help through growing flowers that provide food for pollinators. One mini-meadow or wildflower patch could help a few local bees, but to really help them it's a high volume game in terms of trying to get as many gardens in the UK and elsewhere planting and sowing with pollinators in mind. This is why we started the Patch4Planet Facebook group, not exclusively to help pollinators but to share tips in gardening for wildlife and giving ourselves challenges to do together on a bigger scale to nurture nature. Our first Spring Challenge as a group was to all grow a patch (pot, plot, meadow whatever we can!) of 'Flowers4Bees'. Wonderful photographs were shared of bees drinking nectar from bright purple crocuses, and tips were shared on what to grow - hellebores for example are apparently great for pollinators. Now it's April and most of us 'patchers' have planted our seeds and are getting very excited about any sign of growth - one patcher exclaiming this week with great excitement "It's happening, it's really happening!" as he saw some little green amongst his baby pollinator flower seedlings and positive signs of life! We could all relate to his excitement and just today the same has happened to me - so I know just how he feels! Below are some example 'Patches' from our group - I can't wait to see all the flowers when they bloom! Dawn's patch: Having been spectacularly unsuccessful at growing vegetables, about four years ago I decided to turn my vegetable plot into a wildflower garden. I dug and raked over the patch, bought a pack of seeds and waited. The first year was moderately successful, but the second year was better as some of the flowers had self-seeded or become more established. In 2020, I dug out and raked the patch again and bought new wildflower seeds. From growth... ... to blooms! Another member of the group has let a small plot of land grow wild, and through natural self-seeding has seen honesty and forget-me-nots appear, which are great larval food plants for pollinators such as the orange-tip butterfly. We have used all sorts of resources to help with what to plant and how. There is a wonderful array on the internet, including the fantastic information provided on the actions for wildlife pages. Making your own meadow is a great group project for all ages and is a positive gardening experience for ourselves and for the planet - you can take part however small or large your garden is - you could grow flowers for pollinators in a pot on your windowsill if short on space. Our oldest member growing for pollinators is 80 and our youngest taking part is 4! If we can do it why don't you have a go - there's plenty of time to sow seeds - join in the fun and the good feeling of helping Wiltshire's wildlife and make our pollinators thrive again!