Organic Consumers Association

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OCA's Save the Bees Campaign

Flower Power Takes Hold Again as Gardeners Rally Round the Endangered Bumblebee

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Gardeners are planting record numbers of flowers rich in nectar as the public throws itself firmly behind the plight of the endangered bumblebee.

Sales of lavender, sunflowers and dahlias have risen significantly this year following reports of a dramatic decline in the population of honey, bumble and other species of bees, and the damage this poses to food supplies and the environment at large.

Bees and other pollinators fertilise three-quarters of the planet's food crops and their numbers have been greatly reduced in recent years as disease, pesticides and the loss of flower-rich habitats have taken their toll.

Matthew Oates, the National Trust's specialist on nature and wildlife, has noticed a rise in gardening for the benefit of bees.

"Bee-friendly gardening is getting big. It's already helping and I think it will help enormously in the longer term. So much of wildlife lies in people's minds and the bees' plight has really captured the public's imagination."

Adrian Thomas, a gardening expert from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said he has noticed a significant increase in "gardening for wildlife" in the past five years, a trend which continues to gain momentum.

"Traditionally there has been this idea that a garden has to be wild to do good things for wildlife. But a series of studies have overturned that idea by showing that you can have a beautiful, ordered garden and still help nature," he said.

The growth in nectar-rich-flower planting is also benefiting other pollinators, such as butterflies, moths and hoverflies, which eat damaging insect pests.

In the past, many gardeners had given up on the idea of trying to do anything useful for nature because they had thought their neat gardens had nothing to offer. However, these gardens can still be extremely beneficial to nature, especially if you add a few features, he said.   

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