Posts Tagged ‘Bees’

Another Plant which I cannot see myself ever doing without unless moving to a climate which it cannot thrive in is the Artichoke Plant ‘Cynara Cardunculus’ (there are a few varieties). My obsession with these came when I snapped a photo of one flower head which had around 9 or so bees on it alone!


The plant has a pleasant ‘Silver Tone’ effect which covers Greys and Silvers in an ornamental bed (Perennials)


Multiple Flower Heads ‘Cynara cardunculus’

A friend of mine says that his Grandparents in the past, used to cook  the young shoots in a type of stew / broth recipe in the South of France.
There is the famous ‘Globe Artichoke’ which is edible and the varieties I am mainly focusing on here which do not produce edible flower heads such as the latter, but are great for Bees and Pollinators.
The plants are Perennial and once established should last years, in colder Temperate regions these Herbaceous plants will die down in a cold Winter and re-sprout in Spring. I am classing the Ornamental Artichoke ‘Cynara Cardunculus’ as Semi / Beneficial with the Edible ‘Globe Artichoke’ Variety as a good Beneficial Plant (Multiple Uses / Purposes) in a Sustainable / Permaculture System (Edible parts, good Cash Crop if grown in bulk, Perennial, Medicinal uses as described below and Pollinator attractant / forage plant. Another point is the leaves produce good green waste for composting and the tall woody stems you will chop down in Winter are great biomass, can be used as canes, in Hugel Mounds / Hugelkultur etc.)



Bees Love the Artichoke Plant ‘Cynara cardunculus’

The plants are used medicinally and the following is taken from WebMD:

” Artichoke is a plant. The leaf, stem, and root are used to make “extracts” which contain a high concentration of certain chemicals found in the plant. These extracts are used as medicine.

Artichoke is used to stimulate the flow of bile from the liver, and this is thought to help reduce the symptoms of heartburn and alcohol “hangover.” Artichoke is also used for high cholesterol, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), kidney problems, anemia, fluid retention (edema), arthritis, bladder infections, and liver problems.

Some people use artichoke for treating snakebites, preventing gallstones, lowering blood pressure, lowering blood sugar; to increase urine flow; and as a tonic or stimulant.

In foods, artichoke leaves and extracts are used to flavor beverages. Cynarin and chlorogenic acid, which are chemicals found in artichoke, are sometimes used as sweeteners.

Don’t confuse artichoke with Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus).

How does it work?

Artichoke has chemicals that can reduce nausea and vomiting, spasms, and intestinal gas. These chemicals have also been shown to lower cholesterol. ”



‘Cynara cardunculus’ grown commercially

The plants can be propagated by root division, take an established plant in dormancy (Winter / end of Winter towards Spring), using a spade, you will merely slice into the center of the root crown and dig around this newly sliced section, taking as much of the root with you as possible with soil to transplant to a nursing bed or in its final location. A layer of mulch is always a good idea once placed as protection from frost to ensure survival of the new plant.

Growing a couple of these plants in your garden together with other local / native as well as non native Bee Friendly plants will be very helpful for our Bee friends as an important food supply, ensure you study the different flowering times so that you can ensure that you alway have a plant or two supplying them with pollen and nectar most of the year round. You can even place one plant in a semi / shaded spot and this plant will flower later on, its flowers will still be going when the other plant has already finished its flushes.

Hello everyone, new and old followers alike …

Todays post will be purely focusing on the recent London Permaculture Festival (Annual Event) held last Sunday the 31st of July 2016.

This is the second year running I have attended the festival, it is also the Seventh year that the festival has been going, where it is always based in the Cecil Sharp House in Camden, home to the English Folk and Dance Society.

A great example of how we can bring back power to our communities is shown in the agreement between the Permaculture Association in London and the English Folk and Dance Society. The Festival organisers and the Society made an agreement that the festival can be held for free, so as long as the outside gardens are designed, installed and maintained free of charge.


Click on each photo image above for a larger image and caption

Upon arrival and after paying entrance (£ 6 normal rate and £4 Concessions for Pensioners, Students, Low Income Earners etc.) you are greeted on the left by the award winning Permablitz created, Food Forest concept which utilizes many of the classic Permaculture methods and designs including a herb spiral, pond, poly culture planting scheme, various multi use, edible plants and self supporting systems.


Workshop Time Table – London Permaculture Festival 2016


Inside, as soon as you arrive, check around for the Time Table (although this is also viewable online before the event day) so that you can start planning what you are interested in attending, these time tables are posted all around the building, mainly near door exits etc.

The market comprises of everything from the large Permanent Publications book store, to crafts, a bakery with cakes etc (including vegan / allergen free produce), protest stalls educating visitors about harmful chemicals used in Agriculture such as Glyphosate as well as info on corporate / political deals such as TTIP etc, the Nursery with it’s rare plants, people selling honeys, jams, other preserves and many more!

The information shared in the Workshops is valuable to anyone, you do not at all even need to understand the concept of Permaculture to be able to make use of these systems, designs  and ideas, any allotment holder or average joe with a small back garden or even just a Balcony (Click here for an excellent video of an Edible Balcony Garden).
The garden area was full of family / children’s activities ensuring the event was for the whole family and not just the Perma. Nutter!

As in previous years, the books at the Permanent Publications stand are mostly discounted, they also had back issues of the Permaculture Magazine going for £1 per copy which was also a great bargain!

Taking a walk around the garden, you can find plants that are supplied by the same ‘rare plant nursery’, their info. tags are normally still attached and as I checked, you can find some of the species at their stand inside the main building which was great!

The garden was very interesting, I can see why it has won an award – it is likely that all stages of the design have been implemented already, but they do still require volunteers to regularly maintain the garden, there is no set days / dates so you will have to contact them at their Main Site Here to be added to a mailing list.

Overall, I think it was a very great and productive day! Myself and company had great fun and I did learn a lot, this is an event I can see myself making sure I never miss!

I have termed this plant ‘Semi Beneficial’ mainly as it doesn’t really have many benefits when compared to my previous posts on beneficial Plants such as the Wild Teasel and Poached Egg Plant.

The main reason I am recommending Monk’s Hood is because it does show up on lists of plants that are ”good for bees” and I have luckily been able to observe this over a three year period, bees do swarm the plants and the best part is that the flowers are summer end when most plants have finished their flushes of flowers! It is perennial with bulb like roots and is related to delphinium, the difference being that some varieties grow the flowers closer together when compared with Delphinium which in my opinion is more attractive than the latter. The second reason is it really is an attractive plant with great ornamental potential!

Warning: The plant is highly toxic so be sure children are well aware!!

One benefit to it being so toxic (for people living in the countryside) is naturally, Deer and Rabbits etc. like to keep well away from them! So it is possible to have attractive flowering plants in your garden if you do suffer damage from Deer etc.

Monks Hood ( Aconitum carmichaelii ) aka Wolf-bane in flower

The plant is also known as Wolf-Bane, history says it was used to poison Wolves in the past

Monks Hood ( Aconitum carmichaelii ) in a mixed bed

The bees do absolutely love them! I am attempting to grow from seed at the moment, once I have a result I will give an update, these plants can cost quite a lot from a Nursery …

I’m glad I re-stumbled upon this video of the Dervaes Family in the US, The basic plot is that their father became quite dissatisfied with the way things were going in the food industry when he found out that the tortilla wraps he gave his children for a meal were being recalled due to being ”accidentally” made using GMO Corn.
He then began back garden growing which turned eventually into a complete package including animals, sustainable fuel mixing (Bio fuel), bee keeping, selling their produce to local restaurants etc. and earning $20,000 per year from the extras, after watching this, feel free to go stare at your boring lawn! …

Must see for some much needed Inspiration!

I took these photo’s sometime either this year or possibly in the Summer of 2013, I’m not entirely sure as I make an effort to visit both Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens at least twice a year (Summer and Autumn).
I was highly appreciative of the chosen Plant varieties I found in some locations, although I am not too sure if they are deliberately chosen for Wildlife or merely ornamental reasons, but I can commend the Royal Parks for what I came across.

Ceanothus (Common Name: California Lilac) makes a great shrub for pollinators

Ceanothus (Common Name: California Lilac) makes a great shrub for pollinators

I found large Ceanothus Shrubs (photo above), these shrubs are always covered in various bee species wherever I see them during the growing season, These shrubs in Hyde Park are most certainly the largest I have ever seen them growing! I sincerely hope they remain like that and not chopped back at some point …
Ceanothus appear on the list of recommended shrubs / plants for beneficial insects and pollinators for the local UK wildlife species.

perovskia and lavendar (2)

Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’ closeup

perovskia and lavendar (1)

Lavender and Perovskia Mixed Bed

A good 30 meters away there is a very well designed bed which hosts Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’ and Common Lavender (Both of which are very beneficial to pollinators) and of course they were covered in various bee species. This same bed also contained about 3-5 rose varieties, Magnolia Shrubs, Grasses, Purple Leaf Sage, Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla Mollis) and Various Bulbs … plus the smell was astounding!!!

Further away I found a nice Buddleja Davidii (also known as: Butterfly Bush) unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of that one! Fortunately, you can see many of them on the track sides when traveling London using the train system …

The people at Friends Of The Earth have information on the best varieties you can grow in your garden/s in the UK for our local species, check the site Here.