Jodie Neary is an impatient but enthusiastic gardener. The beauty of plants growing is not lost on her, nor on her two five-year-old twin daughters. Last year she grew giant Russian sunflowers which are often called pollen bombs and are beloved by bees. She also managed to save many seeds and as a result this Spring she had an abundance of sunflower seedlings.
The combination of surplus sunflowers, a love of bees and the lockdown inspired her to come up with a Bee Route project.
“There are a number of national bee and pollinator projects but no local ones and I wanted to engage children – and their families – into something real and tangible. So the idea of the Bee Route grew. What if we could plant bee friendly patches across the county and create a bee friendly route, plotting a path of where bees might be welcome?”
Working with the Tidy Towns (Marie McCovey) and Wicklow County Council (Deirdre Burns) Jodie put together the Bee route Project. Initially it was promoted on Facebook with a kickoff date planned for May 23rd in Barnaby Park in Greystones. Interested families were encouraged to come and collect the Bee Route Starter packs consisting of sunflower seedlings, lavender plugs and advice on how to grow the plants. Interested families were also encouraged to share their contact details so Jodie could communicate later about competitions for the children.
“We expected about ten families to show up and instead we had nearer forty.”
Social distancing was observed and soon as the starter packs were gone. Jodie is organising another starter pack giveaway on Saturday 30th, this time in Charlesland and there may be more if she can get her hands on more seeds.
“The interest is fabulous. Kids are really interested in bees and sunflowers. We hope to have competitions for the tallest sunflower and maybe writing or drawing programmes.”
Jodie acknowledges it is so important for children to feel engaged especially during lockdown. Growing plants is a wonderful pastime and these giant Russian sunflowers can often reach dizzying heights of 2.5 metres. In my ignorance I ask how tall is that, thinking as I often do in feet and inches, but Jodie points out that it’s a little bit more than the distance required for social distancing. Of course, how silly of me. Now I want my very own Bee Starter pack.
[Editors comment: For more information on pollinators and how you can help see www.pollinators.ie . For your free copy of ‘Gardening for Biodiversity’ send an e mail with your postal address to firstname.lastname@example.org]