Monthly Archives: January 2019


Just time to post my January flower of the month – Snowdrops.


Here they are, after the snow yesterday, you can see where they get their name


So pretty, so delicate

Thanks to Cee for her Flower of the day challenge,


It is always nice when a photograph turns out not as one expected. I like the way the flower emerges from the green below. I wouldn’t expect to find celendine flowering till late February. But here it is already showing it’s yellow head at the end of January.

Unexpected celendine

Unexpected celendine

It is an exceptionally early spring here and flowers are already emerging. And despite the fact that a cold week is forecast, much of the winter has been very mild.

Gardens for Pollinators

Spring just around the corner (I hope). So it is time to start planning the garden. And with a new UK scientific paper out telling us that allotments and gardens supported the highest bee and hoverfly abundances, our own gardens are a great place to start helping our local pollinator populations.

If this is something you like doing I thought I could provide you with a list of Pollinator Friendly Plants. This list is based solely on what works in my garden. The garden is situated in Co Mayo, Ireland.  We have relatively mild climate but we do get frosts, and they can occur anything from late September till May. We have both native wildflower areas and cultivated areas with flowers and also a vegetable plot.

Best Garden Flowers and Herbs

White tailed bumble on lupin

Delphiniums – the bigger bumblebees,  like garden bumblebees love these.

Lupins – a number of different bumblebees will use them and I have also seen honey bees try (but I don’t think they were successful).

Russian Comfrey – these plants are always full of bumblebees.  Carders, early bumbles, love it. A number of hoverflies also feed on it especially Rhingia campestris. Another great positive about this species is it keep on flowering once it starts.

Poppies – I have pink, opium poppies that self seed in the vegetable plot. It appears to be a magnet for honey bees but white tailed bumbles and early bumblebees will use it to.

Snapdragon – again a favourite for carder bee.

Nasturtiums – these self seed in my vegetable plot. Again they will be used by a variety of bees.

Bumbles on sage

Bumbles on sage

Sage – a wonderful herb that is always buzzing in my garden. Appears to be particular favourite of common carder bees.

Oregano – grows both in the greenhouse and outside. The one in the greenhouse is always full of white tailed bumbles, the outside ones less so. The plant is probably happier and producing more nectar in the warmer greenhouse.

Calendula – hoverflies love this flower.

Fennel flowers – another favourite for hoverflies.

Borage – another great all rounder for bumblebees and honeybees.

Native Flowers and plants

Foxgloves – again suit the larger bees like garden bumblebees.

Ragged robin – this plant does well near the pond seems a particular favourite of green veined white butterfly.

Bumblebee on dandelion

Bumblebee on dandelion

Dandelion – a brilliant early pollen source.

Ox-eyed daisy – hoverflies and butterflies will both use this.

Willow – I have both native and cultivated willows. The catkins are really important for bumblebees queens emerging from hibernation early in the spring.

Fruit blossom – Again I have native and cultivated forms. Hoverflies seem to love blossom, but bumblebees and butterflies will feed on them to.


Interestingly in the scientific paper just published a number of these plants have also proved popular in the UK. The following nine native plants were found to have significantly more pollinator visitors than expected based on their abundance – Creeping thistle, Wood avens, Common hogweed, Cat’s ear, Ox-eye daisy, Creeping buttercup, bramble/blackberry, Autumn hawkbit and Dandelion. And the non-native top five were: Borage, Butterfly bush, Common marigold (Calendula), Lavender and Comfrey.

Further reading

A systems approach reveals urban pollinator hotspots and conservation opportunities

Katherine C. R. Baldock, Mark A. Goddard, Damien M. Hicks, William E. Kunin, Nadine Mitschunas, Helen Morse, Lynne M. Osgathorpe, Simon G. Potts, Kirsty M. Robertson, Anna V. Scott, Phillip P. A. Staniczenko, Graham N. Stone, Ian P. Vaughan & Jane Memmott

Nature Ecology & Evolution (2019) |






19 Positive Steps

So here we are one week into 2019. I am not making resolutions this year but instead coming up with 19 positive ways to help the environment.  These may be things I already do, may be things I wish to do better or maybe something I haven’t tried yet. I hope you can find some inspiration here too. Here and there I have include some links with more information.

1. Compost whatever we can.

2. Grow some more food. I am hoping to grow more in my vegetable plot this year. Even if you just have a window still you can grow some herbs.

3. Buy some stainless steel containers for buying meat or fish from local butcher/fishmonger.

4. Use canvass or other types of reusable shopping bags.

5. Investigate what we can order in bulk, to reduce waste.

6. Seek alternatives to goods sold in plastic. So for example, buy solid soap bars as opposed to liquid soap. Alternatively, find somewhere were we can refill plastic bottles of washing up liquid or detergent.

7. Make more space for wildlife in the garden. And / or work with local community groups to improve areas for biodiversity.

8. Make more of our own bread and when buying do so from bakery that uses paper only bags/wrappings.

9. Don’t buy bottled water.  Bring your own.

10. Buy unwrapped fruit and vegetable. Local market may be good place to start.

11. Make own yogurt in grass jars.

12. Walk and cycle more.

13. Plant some more Pollinator Friendly Flowers (will do post on this soon).

14. Cut the lawn less.

15. Buy clothes made from natural fibers (cotton, lines, wool etc) and organic if possible.

16. Donate unwanted clothes and other items to your local charity shop.

17. Use vinegar, bread soda and lemon or other eco friendly cleaners for cleaning.

18. If painting, use eco friendly paints.

19. Take time to go for walks and enjoy nature.