Buzz at Yewbarrow House in Cumbria

This Sunday 5th August, my Buzz bees and I will be up in Cumbria at Yewbarrow House Gardens.

I am so pleased to be able to show the bees at this wonderful venue which will be open from 11 to 4 as part of the National Garden Scheme. Here is a plan of the gardens from their excellent website.

I do hope I have time to  wander round the Gardens especially because the owner Jonathan Denby has an interest in bees!
In July 2009 he exhibited his award winning “Beekeepers Garden”at the Hampton Court Flower Show.

Jonathan, like many others, is concerned about the plight of bees and  kept a blog about, The Beekeepers Garden, and here he explains what was behind the planning and design.


“We want to encourage every gardener either to keep bees or to grow plants which are attractive to bees. The Beekeeper’s Garden is filled with plants which are attractive to bees- plants of all kinds: flowers, fruit, vegetables and herbs.
The garden is entered via a wrought-iron pergola which, most unusually, is completely enveloped in climbing vegetables. A path leads to the central feature of the garden, which is an Apiary, which was inspired by a sketch in Victorian garden writer Shirley Hibberd’s journal.
The Apiary is fronted by a pebble-mosaic by Maggy Howarth and is flanked by espaliered apple trees and an apple orchard. Apple trees have been chosen as a central feature of the garden as the apple crop is dependent upon bee pollination and is under threat because of the decline in the bee population.
The theme of the garden, to echo the words of William Morris, is that it will contain nothing which we do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

You can see a film of the BBC’s review of the garden on the Yewbarrow website here.

Beekeepers G shoot

A shot of the finished garden from Shoot Gardening Website. Their excellent review also has a plant list.  Go here to see and read more more Part of the Beekeeper’s Garden is now at Yewbarrow.  Here is the relocated apiary.

apiary bg

and Maggie Howarth’s wonderful pebble mosaics will be there as well.

. MH mosaic detail

I have been wondering about a bee mosaic here at the Ugly Bungalow….. another lovely project to dream about!

Do come along on Sunday if you are in the area. It’s all for a good cause too!

Yewbarrow House
National Gardens Scheme
Hampsfell Road, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria, LA11 6BE
Opening dates and times: Sundays 5 Aug 2 Sept (11-4)
Admission:Adm £4, chd free

Jubilee Sunshine and Showers at Easton.

.. and howling gales and torrential rain! But were we put off?? No. Undaunted by the weather the Jubilee Meadow Days had many lovely, if soggy, visitors and fellow exhibitors.

As always I met some fascinating people and learnt more about honey bees from the bee keepers and much more about wildflowers, especially from Jackie who had  a “Flowers for Bugs” stand nearby and the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust whose  “Life on the Verge” leaflet about the flora of roadside verges was fascinating. They are conducting a huge survey and you can find out more on their website.

We also had two excellent days of my Bugs, Beasts and Botanicals workshops and thanks to the three Janes, Jean, the two Sues, Elaine, Bo, Ian, Tony for not only turning out in such appalling weather but actually going outside to work in the rain and wind. I am eternally grateful to you all for coming and making the days such fun.

There will be more workshops at Easton Walled Gardens to come. I always mean to take photos of the classes but always forget.. but here at least are the awesome Allington Morris who, because of the driving rain were forced to dance indoors.
They squeezed into a tiny space in Coach House, my bees in the background.. It was wonderful! Happy Jubilee All!!!

Bees Deliver the Buzz at Heligan!

The bees and I are back home now after a brilliant two weeks at the beautiful Lost Gardens of Heligan.
There are so many people to say “thank you” to, the staff, the visitors and of course the Gardens’ bees who performed beautifully, and unfailingly, every day for the 2.00 pm Bee Walk.

We would start the walk staring optimistically at a small hole in the ground in a nearby flowerbed.


The tension was palpable.. would there be any bees today???

But the wonderful little Red Tailed Bumble Bee workers never failed me and flew in and out of their underground nest on cue. The tiny mining bees endearingly popped in and out of their holes in the Melon Yard and sometimes rested obligingly on the nearby stones.

bee head

mining bees sunning

Garden Bumble Bees, Common Carder Bees, Buff Tailed Bumble Bees and White Tailed Bumble Bees were all over the foxgloves, woundwort, poppies, brambles and odd things like dianthus and geums.

Bumble bees were climbing into the huge snapdragons, the big flowers swallowing up the bees almost entirely. They were all engaging and delightful…

carder bee on motherwort

Common Carder Bees seemed to particularly like Motherwort Leonurus cardiaca.


I watched fascinated as a big bumblebee gathered together groups of poppy stamens and “buzzed” them to release the pollen.

tiny bee on poppy

Whereas this little bee could only jump on one stamen and sway up and down. Very comical


Early one morning I found a little Bombus worker nectar robbing the pineapple sage flower.

I was able to show the holes at the base of the flowers to, sometimes, disbelieving visitors. Amongst the star performers were the very beautiful Anthidium manicatum bees, the Wool Carder Bee.  Males were patrolling a patch of woundwort and fighting in a quite spectacular way while the females just got on with their lives.

anthid male 3

This male at last took a break, the spikes on the end of his abdomen are quite awesome. He has cream hairs on his legs and the hairs on his  body give him a halo  of creamy white. A closer look shows the yellow spots and markings on the abdomen which vary from species to species and between male and female.

The smaller female with her head in a flower. I was wondering where the females were getting the fibers for their nests but the Latin name for woundwort is Stachys sylvatica (Hedge Woundwort) which must be a relative of their favourite plant which we commonly know as Lambs Ears Stachys byzantina The woundwort leaves have more bristly hairs but are certainly hairy enough I guess.


I said, saw, did and learnt so much in my two weeks there. My bee tent was never empty, even on bad days.

Hundreds of people passed through. We had garden experts, bee keepers, entomologists and general bee, insect and wildlife enthusiasts. There were novice gardeners, old hands, people who wanted just to share bee stories, bee sightings, nest discoveries and  flower or habitat suggestions.
I know I have convinced quite a few bee anxious people that our wild bees are harmless and charming. Stroking a ( I hasten to add, deceased) bee as usual proved popular.
We rescued grounded cold wet bees from the paths, which would sit happily on my warm hand to be admired by visitors.  We kept running out of bee and flower leaflets and again I sold out of books and the postcards.
My benign directive from Lorna the marketing manager was to inspire and inform and I know the show and the accommodating bees did just that.
The many comments in the visitors book said it all. It’s not really in my nature to post these sort of comments but maybe it’s time I did! Here are just a few.
From Cath and Maureen :

“Feel v lucky to be @Heligan at the same time as this exhibition, both educational and lovely to look at. Bought the book!

And from Monique:

“Exquisite and useful Bonne continue!”

And from Lisa:

“Fabulous, so good to have a knowledgeable and passionate person here. I  will be more attentive now. We must look after our bees! Thankyou!”

Vana and Peter came on the bee walk :“Really interesting show and walk , very helpful” they said, and later in the day rushed back with concern about the fate of some little ground nesting bees…
Be assured, the stones which will cover them will allow for gaps!!
Most overheard comment… “Oh I didnt know there were so many bees”

But…the biggest bee of the trip has to be at Eden… I took a morning off to go and see this inspiring place!

eden bee

“Buzz” at Heligan

16th to 30th June The Lost Gardens of Heligan
United Kingdom,
PL26 6EN Tel : 0044(0)1726 845100

That’s where the bees and I will be until the end of the month.
In the beautiful Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall.

It will be my first time not only at the Gardens but in Cornwall, so it will all be new…new is good!

I will be there, for sure at 2.00 each day from 16th to the 22nd. If the weather is fine we will go and look for bees if not I will be there to talk about the bees and thing I am very good at.

On other days and times I probably won’t be too far away but you will be able to see the bees during regular opening times. I may be blogging, I may not. All will depend on the, no doubt elusive, internet connections.


Come and say Hi if you can.. If not I will be Artist in Residence at the lovely Wallworth Hall in Twigworth which is home to the “Nature in Art” gallery, just 2 miles north of Gloucester. August 2nd to 7th.

“Buzz” at Easton Walled Gardens at Bank Holiday …and thanks to Woman & Home!

And thanks to my friend Ruth for the heads up that Woman & Home Magazine have kindly given Easton Walled Gardens and “Buzz” a mention in their June edition.

It’s a small but beautiful mention and I think it’s the only time in my life that I will be in print on the same page as Johnny Depp.

I have customised the page a bit!

w and h 2

But yes, the Bees and I will be there along with the “Unusual Plant Fair”  on 29th and 30th May, 11am to 4pm.

I will be fascinated to see what the plantsmen and nurseries have to offer. I can’t think of nicer companion planting than Buzz and Unusual plants :).