Everyone knows that our native bees are in a serious state of decline due to habitat loss, modern farming practices and pesticides. But we can all do our bit to help them by planting the wildflowers they love in our – and also get that lovely hazy buzzing sound that epitomises the British summer! Most of our native wildflowers are perfect for bees. Here are just 5 species of wildflowers guaranteed to attract bees.
The Cornflower is a beautiful little blue wildflower. Where it was once abundant, growing wildly in cornfields, the Cornflower is now a rare sight in the wild. It was regarded as a weed (can you believe that!) and blunted sickles during harvesting and so farmers did their best to eradicate it. Indeed, it was often referred to as Hurt Sickle. As with many wildflowers, it has a number of old folk names – Bluebottle, Batchelor’s Button and Knapweed.
Its pretty blue flowers grow on stems up to 2 ft (60 cm) high and butterflies and bees love it.
Its Latin botanical name centaurea derives from the name Chiron, the centaur in Greek mythology, whom the plant cured when an arrow tipped with the blood of Hydra wounded him. Since then the plant has been assumed to drive away snakes. The cyanus part comes from Cyanus, a young man from Greek mythology, who loved the plant so much he spent all his time in corn fields making garlands from them. When he died, the goddess Flora transformed him into the plant. However, the name may also come from the nymph, Cyane, daughter of the river god, Meidanros – she was changed into a dark blue spring whose waters fed the small brook Anapis near Syracuse.
There is much folklore surrounding the Cornflower. People used to believe that the sky had sent down bits of itself to the fields and that’s why they were scattered with blue flowers. Cornflowers can stop a nosebleed if picked on Corpus Christi Sunday. Water distilled from Cornflower petals was used for weak eyes. Petal juice will dye linen blue but isn’t permanent. Stagecoach drivers used to wear Cornflowers as buttonholes in the nineteenth century. The flower was also symbolic of rustic life.
How to Grow Cornflowers
Cornflowers bloom from June to September. They are very easy to grow! In May, find a patch of bare soil in full sun and scatter on the seeds. Press them lightly into the soil and water. Keeop an eye on them and water when necessary. They will germinate within a week or so. You could also scatter them on bare spaces between other plants (as long as they get enough light and sun), so that you have a drift of blue. The bees will love them!
*This is provided for information only and is in no way a prescription for use. Please seek the advice of a qualified herbalist before using*
Eco weddings – we often get asked what we can do in the way of eco-wedding-y stuff for your Big Day. We don’t have much in the way of wedding-related products on this site – but we do have a dedicated wedding website, woohoo! Wildflower Favours is the place you NEED to go to for your eco-friendly wedding products!
Nip on to our wedding website and you will find all sorts of eco weddings loveliness for your wedding – recycled seed packet wedding favours, seed paper wedding invites, seed paper wedding favours, natural confetti – and more! We love nature and the environment, and the bees, butterflies and wildflowers that populate the natural world. We want our wedding products to give something back to the environment and thereby give you, the happy couple, a lovely warm fuzzy feeling inside because you too are helping nature. We like to think we are a bit different from other wedding websites as we do rather enthuse about wildflowers and butterflies and bees and we want everyone to love them as much as we do. OK, a wedding is about two people in love and a bit of a knees-up to celebrate this, but, as a costly occasion involving many elements it can also take its toll on the environment (as well as the wallet!). Even if you only have a tiny bit of your wedding as being eco-friendly, it will help nature.
As an added bonus, many products can be personalised and our designs are very flexible and can be adapted to your needs in most cases. We also have our own in-house designer who can design your own bespoke wedding invitations, favours etc.
In this blog, we can’t show you everything we do but here are just a few tasters of how we can prettify and eco-fy your wedding day!
Written by Teresa Sinclair, Wildflower Papers
Friends of the Earth have launched their Great British Bee Count app so that you can play a part in helping our native UK bees. Via the app, you will discover loads about the bees you spot and easy ways to help them. You’ll also be helping bee experts build more understanding of our different species and how, for example, they’re coping with impacts such as climate change and habitat loss – so that ultimately their decline may be reversed.
Our native UK bees are in danger and numbers are declining at an alarming rate. We have all seen the gardening programmes, articles, blogs etc advising us to plant bee-friendly flowers to help these little guys. They are vital to the existence of our species but, not only that, we need to save them because, basically, they are great little insects and deserve to live their lives without humans ruining it for them through pesticide use and habitat loss.
The app is easy to use and, as you register each sighting, the information about the bee (including the habitat, geographic location and weather conditions) will be recorded on the Friends of the Earth’s database. Your records will then be verified and uploaded them to the National Biodiveristy Network Atlas where they will be available to scientists and conservationists across the UK. This year, wildflowers have also been included in the app to help in their identification too.
The Great British Bee Count is great fun and for a fantastic cause. Kids will also find it fun and it will hopefully promote an interest in them to continue to help look after our bees. You can download the app from the Friends of the Earth website. Whilst the Bee Count is only running until 30 June (so hurry and get your app!) the information the app contains about bees is available all through summer to help you identify even more bees after the Count is over.
Please download the app and help our bees. As Friends of the Earth say “…by taking part, you’ll be sending a clear signal to the government and decision-makers that the public care about the future of bees. That’s why we want as many people as possible to take part – so that they can raise awareness among their friends and family about the wonderful world of bees and how everybody can take small steps to protect pollinators.”
Butterfly Conservation (a most wonderful charity devoted to helping our moths and butterflies!) is trying to raise the funds to publish a new, up-to-date moth atlas (they are not auctioning off real moths!). The reason? To celebrate the charity’s 50th anniversary! This is the first ever complete atlas of Britain and Ireland’s larger moths and will provide up-to-date distribution maps and details of nearly 900 species. To raise the funds needed, people can sponsor a moth via an online auction site. The sponsor’s name or dedication will be printed in the Atlas in the section relevant to that species. All the auction info is on Butterfly Conservation’s moth auction page. Auctions will run from 8am on the first day of the month, until 8pm on the last day of the month. Any un-sponsored moths will be re-listed in November and December 2017.
Why not help Butterfly Conservation achieve its goal, and have a bit of fun on the way!
Lokta paper is a traditional, eco-friendly, handcrafted paper made in Nepal from the bark of the Daphne bush (Daphne papyracea) which grows wild in the Himalayas.
Lokta paper was primarily used for writing sacred texts. Indeed, the oldest surviving lokta paper document is stored in Nepal’s National Archives in Kathmandu – a sacred Buddhist text called the Karanya Buha Sutra, which is estimated to be between 1,000 and 1,900 years old. Lokta paper’s strength and durability means it is still used today for legal documents in China, and it has grown in popularity in the Western world as an unusual paper for writing on or wrapping.
The evergreen Daphne bush grows at high altitudes of up to 3,100 metres. Often classed as a shrub it grows to a height of about 5 ft and has pretty white-pink flowers. These flowers are hermaphrodite (both male and female) and are pollinated by bees and flies.
How Lokta paper is made
The paper is made from the bark of the Daphne bush, which is harvested by hand. The plant regenerates over the next few years and is ready for use again in 5 – 7 years, so it doesn’t have to die or be chopped down for us to have lovely paper!
Once the bark has been chopped from the bush, it is chopped into small pieces and left to soak in water for 5 – 6 hours. It is then boiled in hot water for a couple of hours and further washed in cold water. After this process, it is then beaten to a pulp. Once the bark is mushy it is poured on to paper tray moulds and left to dry in frames in the sun to become paper.
This paper is very versatile and durable and is perfect for calligraphy and wedding invitations. Buy lokta paper here, we also have it available in stock in a variety of gorgeous colours! The paper is also available with petals in and is absolutely beautiful.