London’s churchyards are hallowed ground for bees as much as for people. Expanses of grass, criss-crossed by pathways and anchored by the solidity of an ancient edifice, are important mid-town sanctuaries. What is more, there are approximately 450 churchyards in the Diocese of London! I would like to invite you to take a closer look at one of them in particular: St Mary Magdalen Churchyard in SE1.
In 2011, I applied for a Cleaner, Greener, Safer grant from Southwark Council to fund Bee-Friendly Planting in the churchyard of our local 13th-century Church (St. Mary Magdalen), which was then being renovated.
The grant was awarded in May 2012 and the planting of 363 plants and bulbs (11 each of 33 different varieties chosen from the Royal Horticultural Society’s Pollinator-Friendly Planting list) was performed on 25th October 2012 (special thanks to Southwark’s Rupert King, Jon Best and Jillian Houghton!). The picture above is of the plantings in their first week.
While my bees thrive on the annual summer Lime flow (see “Lime Time Is Prime Time“) and nectar, pollen and propolis from many other trees, which together with municipal plantings and private gardens form the bulk of forage in London, the little seasonal flourishes of the plantings in St. Mary Magdalen Churchyard provide colourful and nutritious “Forage“.
This enlightened initiative has ensured the planned provision of forage for local bees and other pollinators throughout most of 2013, as well as brightening up the margins of the churchyard for everyone to enjoy this summer.
Anyhow, this post is my way of saying “Thank you” to the council-tax-payers of Southwark and, listen very carefully, I shall say this only once: “Thank you, Southwark Council !”
ps. See also the British Beekeeping Association’s “Bees In The City” statement