The bees are back in town or they will be very soon when they realise that Eastbourne has laid out a feast for them of no less than sixteen seductively bee- friendly gardens throughout the various parks.
This Saturday the sun shone on our enterprise as members of Eastbourne Friends of the Earth and local community group Friends of Manor Gardens & Gildredge Park gathered in Gildredge Park to celebrate their tireless efforts to welcome these beloved and vital furry friends back to Eastbourne.
The Gildredge park bed has been lovingly planted with a variety of 17 different bee- friendly plants including Rosemary, Echinacea, Oregano, Verbena and many more. The full list can be seen in a later blog post for those readers who we know will want to plant out their own bee-friendly plots after reading this!
Five of our local councillors and Stephen Lloyd, MP, were present to see the plaque commemorating the bee garden being installed.
It seems that the entire Borough Council as well as our MP is fully behind the drive to make Eastbourne a haven for bees.
Stephen Lloyd, the LibDem MP was delighted to be involved. He told me
“I’ve been interested in bees since reading an article 15 years ago on their relevance to pollinating our crops and flowers. I am absolutely delighted to support the Bee initiative both locally and in parliament, as I have done for a long time. I particularly want to pat Eastbourne Borough Council and Friends of the Earth on the back for having planted 16 bee-friendly beds since September 2012”.
Councillor John Ungar who represents Old Town and is also a County Councillor, needs no convincing. He is not just keen to see the bees return; he is a true blooded nature lover. He said of our parks in general
“We live on the downlands and are lucky to have access to the countryside in a very easy way. Parks are a way of giving everyone access to open spaces. It keeps them in touch with nature, helps them understand the changing seasons and allows them to relax and de-stress. I’m particularly proud of my constituents in Old Town who planted an area by the toilets with input from the schools.
In summer young people use the parks. I’ve often walked through here seeing hordes of young foreign visitors taking advantage of our lovely open spaces, but I was even more delighted to find that increasing numbers of young locals are also using the park.
One evening I came upon a group of young folk practising circus skills. It warms the cockles of my heart to see them using our open spaces like this and spending time in nature”
Councillor Jim Murray, who also attended the recent Bee Walk in Hampden Park, his ward, was accompanied by the gorgeous Maisie, his little Jack Russell. Cllr Murray teaches woodwork at the local college and has set up his students to produce old-fashioned bee hives for a fraction of the regular cost. Andrew Durling, the FOE Eastbourne Co-ordinator proudly showed us this photo of his own bright blue painted hive, purchased from Cllr Murray’s students.
A lifelong political activist, Steve Wallis, Councillor for Devonshire, described himself as a former ‘whale saver’ and ‘tree hugger’. Steve ran for office to activate his beliefs on a more local level and was delighted to be offered a seat in the Council cabinet with responsibility for the environment.
He realised that transferring his activist inclinations to a local arena could actually make a huge difference. Like most of Eastbourne Council members, Steve understands the benefits of working in co-operative ventures with groups like Friends of the Earth.
It was good to hear him say
“ We’ve got the money to spend and these groups have the wherewithal to put it to good use. A perfect partnership” Yay!
Gareth Williams, a trained horticulturist and Senior Specialist Advisor to the Council’s Parks and Gardens department, revealed that the Gildredge Park bee-friendly bed cost around £1,500 which included preparing the ground from scratch, mulching, purchasing and installing the plants. He added that many of the other bee-friendly beds have been completed for much less as they used existing garden patches and only had to cover the cost of the plants.
Gareth also spoke enthusiastically about his allotment where he has a total of 28 fruit trees including peach, apple, apricot, pears and many more.
The discussion turned to permaculture and Karen Stewart, one of the driving forces behind several community gardening initiatives, pointed out how he could maximise the space around his fruit trees by adding other edibles and building a mini food forest.
Gareth said that he’d been experimenting with including bee friendly flowers in his configuration, including a host of different daffodils and was keen to get the list of which plants were in the bee friendly beds so he could increase his bee attraction efforts.
After everyone went home, we had some fun making the first Eastbourne Friends of the Earth video using Andy Durling’s smartphone. For a first effort it turned out quite well but was bad on sound.
Bring on the Tech – please
Over coffee and passion cake in the park café, Karen, Andy and I decided to put it into the universe that some kindly benefactor is going to donate a video camera and portable PA system to Eastbourne FOE. This audio/visual system will allow us to make and upload videos to YouTube which will draw more attention to the causes we are fighting for. It will also help to improve sound quality when leading groups around outdoor sites and in general talks to the public.
The beds are planted, the plaque will soon be cemented in and all we have to do now is wait for the bees to buzz into town and do their thing.