‘Operation PolliNation’ creates a real buzz

Bee-friendly flowerbeds are popping up everywhere, as ‘Operation PolliNation’ creates a buzz. The CountryLife garden centre network is donating flowering perennials and wildflower seeds to 24 tidy towns’ committees and communities to help protect species at risk of extinction.

The farm and rural retailer, owned by Glanbia Ireland, is also giving free wildflower seeds to customers at its network of 14 CountryLife garden centres across Leinster and Munster and is highlighting in-store plants that are particularly pollinator friendly.

CountryLife’s in-store horticulturalists are promoting natural pest control methods and providing free information for customers to help them to reduce or eliminate their use of herbicides.

Across the wider Glanbia Ireland group, the company has added pollinator-friendly planted containers and ‘bug hotels’ in all of its company offices across the country. It has also distributed pollinator-friendly garden guidelines to its 2,000 staff.

Glanbia Ireland’s Jessica Kelly said that ‘Operation PolliNation’ is designed to help further boost awareness among gardeners of the actions they can take to help biodiversity in their gardens.

At the launch of the ‘Operation PolliNation’ programme were: CountryLife Castlecomer horticulturist Teresa Walsh with bumblebees, Sofia Moloney (6) and Pippa Wallace (7). Image source: Patrick Browne

Extinction

“One-third of our bee species are threatened with extinction. We want to play our part in protecting Irish bees. What better way to do this than helping our customers to sow Irish-grown plants that bees prefer,” Jessica said.

“We also want to give back to our local communities in a visible way and support the tireless voluntary work done by our local tidy towns groups. The feedback from our own staff has been very encouraging and we’re keen that this spreads across the wider communities we work and live in.

Operation PolliNation is not only for gardeners as farmers too can join the mission by taking simple actions such as allowing wildflowers to grow on the farm and providing nesting places or ‘bee and insect hotels’ for pollinators.

Horticulturalist at CountryLife’s Castlecomer centre, Teresa Walsh, said that even gardeners with tiny pieces of ground can do their bit to help our bees. She said that it is critically important to choose the right site and proper terrain to get maximum results.

“More and more customers are asking us what they can do to help our bees and which plants or seed to choose. We’re thrilled to be the drivers of Operation PolliNation. It is equally important though that seed bought is properly sown.

Image source: Patrick Browne.

“When choosing your pollinator patch, select wisely and do your preparation work. If you want to sow a wildflower garden, you need to prep and sow it properly.

“Dig out a flat area and rake it off.  Don’t add farmyard manure or anything – they don’t like or need extra feed. Scatter the seed and rake it off again to provide a light dusting over the seeds. This also stops birds feasting on them. Sprinkle with water, particularly if rain is not due within 48 hours,” Teresa said.

“Wildflower gardens thrive in sunny, flat terrain. But there are also shaded mixtures on the market as well as others that give you even more colour. Once the flowers bloom, sit back, relax and enjoy and know you’re doing your bit to help pollinators do their work,” she said.

Pollinating plants are available in all CountryLife garden centres or online at: countrylife.ie.

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