Paula Carnell, head beekeeper at The Newt in Somerset, The RHS's show Sponsor, and keeper of the immersive Beehive show garden at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show is using the show to highlight the importance of nurturing bee habitats: Moorcroft has long since advocated for the importance of bees through our own designs, notably Rachel Bishop’s Pollinator designs.
Carnell has stated that they are trying to help people understand the real importance of bees. She believes they are suffering and dying in our environment and their survival is a mutually beneficial to us all. The bee advocate believes that we cannot harm bees without harming ourselves.
Moorcroft director, Kim Thompson, stood in Newt’s Beezantium, an interactive installation offering human visitors a “bees’ eye view” in the form of a giant honeycomb housed in the scaled-up beehive building, within a bee-friendly garden, and felt the human-bee interaction for herself.
In short, bees have a knock-on effect for the whole ecosystem and the raison d’etre of this RHS show garden was to help gardeners to understand the value of the wide range of pollinators. In the UK we have 275 species of bee, only one of them is a honey bee. Here are some of Moorcroft’s bee designs currently available:
Lilium Tigrinum from the RHS Applebee Collection launched at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023.
Above: Churnet Common Blue from Vicky Lovatt.
Peering through the rough grass of the Pennines, the designer was more than content with her friendly bee and a fleeting glimpse of a common blue butterfly, but it was the selection of meadow flowers which made Vicky smile, doubly so when she found that her walk was dressed with tufts of crested dogtail grass: soft pink knapweed and tiny yellow tormentil flowers. In no time, Vicky was sketching a meadow design on her favourite 159/8 shape.
Pictured above :The Pollinators from Senior designer, Rachel Bishop’s Collection of the same name.
‘My “Pollinators” collection focuses on a variety of flowers that attract bees. We can all perhaps plant a little more sympathetically and encourage bees, as well as having beautiful, colourful gardens. The honey bee thrives on holly during the winter, as seen on the ginger jar lid. So, my aim was to show that bees are not just for summer but that they are present all year round and need flowers from all seasons.’ -Rachel Bishop
Poppy, rosebay willowherb, clover and bramble are the colourful garden favourites that Rachel chose to adorn The Pollinators Collection, which looks at bees in different seasons.
Below: Iffley Meadow, Limited Edition:30) Designer: Emma Bossons FRSA
Owned by the Berks, Bucks and OxonWildlife Trust, Iffley Meadow boasts of more than 42,000 Snakeshead Fritillaries, and in April and May, they come into full bloom, their drooping, chequered heather-coloured flowers spread out like a heavenly carpet to attack bees.
For 2022, the RSPB created a new ‘Digger Valley Insect Walk’ at Minsmere, known simply as Digger Alley – a stretch of path between the pond and north wall that is home to all sorts of wasps & bees. The south-facing aspect of this sandy path is important as it creates a warmer microclimate, and this has attracted a variety of burrowing insects that make their homes directly below your feet. These include rare bees and wasps such as the pantaloon bees, bee wolves, jewel wasps and the green-eyed flower bee.
Identified by their yellow-marked faces and shrill hum, the green-eyed bee is sure to have you hypnotised as it rotates around the coaster like a swirling psychedelic saucer of hawksbeard.
Above: Pantaloon Bee from the RSPB Minsmere Collection. Designer: Emma Bossons FRSA
Pantaloon bees get their name from the females’ oversized orange pollen brushes on their hind legs, which give the impression of a bee wearing pantaloons! Nestled on the pointed lobes of bright mustard-yellow hawksbeard, the design harness the warm hues of flower and bee to create true mining gold. So there we have it. Bees are as varied as they are beautiful.