On Monday, at the July Global Gardens supper, we celebrated the important role of pollinators as part of the Global Gardens Grow Wild Seeds and Spores Project.
With the sun shining brightly, we decided to relocate from the cafe to the garden and have an impromptu garden party - which seemed appropriate since we were celebrating the intimate connections between pollinators and plants.
Maria Golightly (Grow Wild Wales) kicked-off the evening with a whistle-stop tour of the evolution of plants through time from 1 billion years ago up to present day. Land plants evolved around 850 billion years ago and flowers around 150 million years ago. The arrival of flowers, according to Maria "were an evolutionary game-changer."
Terry and Briony (Friends of the Earth Cardiff) then spoke about the important role of pollinators today. Without pollinators, they explained, we would be short of a whole range of delicious crops. "Breakfast would be very beige." In fact, most meals would be!
From apples to buckwheat and tomatoes to watermelons, a whole range of crops rely upon pollinators, whether bumble bees, honey bees, flies or lacewings or even bats. Bees are mostly attracted to bright daytime flowers. In contrast, bats are attracted to pale, nocturnal flowers which tend to be large and bell-shaped. In fact in Africa, South East Asia and the Pacific Islands bats pollinate more than bees.
Terry and Briony gave us an intro to the diverse world of bees - from honey bees, bumble bees, solitary bees and the very cute hairy footed garden bee which is only but very fast. They are attracted to comfrey, lungwort and flowering currants and can be seen buzzing around gardens from February to mid June.
Hairy Footed Flower Bee Photo credit: Urban Pollinators
They also gave us some ideas about how we could make Cardiff more bee-friendly, including planting year-round food for pollinators, developing appropriate accommodation for a range of species, committing to the avoidance of the use pesticides which can harm pollinators and making all of these bee-friendly actions fun (see this link for more information about the Welsh Government Bee Friendly initiative, a scheme for which communities and organisations can get accreditation).
Following the stimulating talks, we has some group chat about how we could support bees and other pollinators in Cardiff and our communities, Jan from Neals Yard Remedies showcased the bee lovely range and one lucky attendee bagged a bee lovely hand cream.
After the talks, we tucked in to a pollinator friendly supper curated by the talented folks at Riverside Sourdough. The menu included watermelon, cucumber and orange (bumble bees, solitary bees, squash bees); tomatoes and basil (pollinated by bumble bees and solitary bees), white bean puree (honey bees and solitary bees); potatoes, broad beans, green beans and herbs (bumble bees, solitary bees and honey bees) and buckwheat, tomato, mint and parsley (honey bees, squash bees, leafcutter bees and solitary bees).
Hurrah for bees and pollinators without whom, we would struggle to have such vibrant, colourful cuisine.
Many thanks to the speakers Maria, Terry and Briony, the Riverside Sourdough crew Grow Wild for making this event possible and to all who came along.