There’s a mammoth-sized hydrangea bush sprouting on the street we normally take on our way to the tube; think an explosion of pink and green caught in the moment of deflagration. As we passed it we heard an ominous buzzing, a concerto of syncopated bzzz as what it felt like dozens of small helicopters were landing, taking off, hovered and in general ambled about. Still, it was hard to locate the source of all that noise.
Let’s have a closer look, shall we?
Ah, there they are!
Bumblebees. Dozens of chubby specimen of species Bombus are gorging themselves on this feast of nectar, leaving for their nests with sacks full of the juicy thing. It’s an uplifting view, but – sadly – an increasingly rare one.
Pollinators, it’s well known, are under threat. A combination of factors, a veritable shit-sandwich of climate change, destruction of wild meadows for those damned English-style lawns and, above all, contamination from neonicotinoid pesticides are inflicting a heavy toll on these little insects, and not just them. It’s estimated that 50% of the 27 species of bumblebees are in decline, 3 have gone completely. 38% of European bees are in decline, together with an astounding 66% of moths and 70% of butterflies. This is bad news for not just this plucky writer of yours when he feels new-age, but for everybody. The overwhelming majority of the plants we use for eating (or feeding cattle) are pollinated, and these animals pollinate an estimated 87% of plants. Without these animals, someone else would have to do the job and, let me tell you, collating pollen from one flower and then giving it to another is a damn long process.
Luckily, help seems to be at hand. The oh-so-vituperated European Union agreed a total ban of neonicotinoid pesticides from the end of 2018 (but for greenhouses), after a long-standing opposition by the UK had been lifted by Micheal Gove, possibly the only commendable action the man made recently if you ask me. This would definitely help, but what can one single fellow, armed perhaps only with a back garden or sometimes not even that, do to get something looking like this?
Well, you could do what many London boroughs are intelligently doing with their parks, i.e. making them scruffier: stop cutting grass one palm from the ground, leaving plants to grow taller, and flowers to grow.
Flowers need to be growing almost all year round, from March to October, and can be of many kinds: lavender, oregano…
… rosemary, daisies…
… foxgloves, roses and so many more.
This is how the urban spaces in the new King’s Cross development, where one of the areas that could only be described as a seething pit is now becoming a jewel. But that’s all to come; in the meantime, on with the buzzing.