OGV grant supports South Melbourne BEE Gardens. (Bees, Education and Environment)
As part of our Giving Program, Open Gardens Victoria (OGV) is delighted to provide a much-needed financial boost to the South Melbourne BEE Gardens – a fantastic public garden initiative dedicated to increasing bee habitat and bee populations in urban Melbourne. We all know we need more bees!
OGV supported the BEE Gardens with a grant of $9,800 through our Giving Program, which is open each year for applications in September. The funds were used to establish two additional BEE gardens in South Melbourne, a park bench for the public to sit and enjoy the gardens, a native BEE Gardening Booklet, Microbat Boxes and various other gardening hard costs.
Keep reading to learn more from project creator, Emma Cutting. We can’t wait to announce other worthy OGV Giving Program grant recipients in the coming months.
South Melbourne BEE Gardens
The South Melbourne BEE Gardens are Australia’s first public gardens dedicated to honeybees and native bees (BEE is an acronym for Bees, Education and Environment). The BEE Gardens aim to bring humans and nature together, joyfully and safely in this extremely urban environment. So far, over 70 local households have donated time, materials and funding. Seven specialists and scientists have been consulted about plant choice, soil health and bee and bird knowledge, and the local council has been consulted extensively regarding compliance.
The BEE Gardens are the largest expression of The Heart Gardening Project (THGP), whose purpose is to heal humankind by creating biodiversity in our cities. THGP has so far created, or helped create, 27 street gardens and planted over 1,000 plants.
The main principle behind The BEE Gardens is to foster the population of bees, also improving their health and coverage. Countless studies around the world have shown that honey bees and native bees are in serious trouble and, because our existence as humans is so intrinsically linked to the health and existence of our bees, we need to do all we can to prevent this decline. After all, healthy bees = healthy humans — it’s as simple as that.
There are so many factors to consider when planting a BEE garden and it’s an extremely exciting experiment! So far, there are 10 micro-worlds here (the last two thanks to OGV!) and they are created and maintained using organic and sustainable gardening principles.
The number one exotic plant that has been amazing in bringing in the pollinators is the perennial basil Ocimum gratissimum. It’s a fantastic plant – flowers profusely year-round and smells divine – even the caterpillars on it smell amazing!
The next top three exotic plants that attract the bees are:
• Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (catmint);
• Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (I’ve literally seen 15 honey bees on the flower head);
• Lavender – there are three types planted and French lavender is particularly popular with honeybees.
Native bees have visited exotics like giant catmint and the perennial basil, but they really prefer native flora and I’ve found them loving native bluebells (Wahlenbergia sp.), yellow bulbine lilies (Bulbine bulbosa) and native cut-leaf daisies (Brachyscome sp.).
As well as the exciting buzz of honeybees and three types of native bees populating The BEE Gardens, we’ve also seen six species of butterflies (such as caper white, yellow admiral and common grass blue), hover flies, beetles of all shapes and sizes, katydids, praying mantis, flies, spiders (e.g. trapezoid crab spider and net casting spider), moths, dragonflies, wasps, damselflies, leafhoppers, ants and the list goes on and on! In addition to insects, skinks have been sighted and more and more native birds are coming to drink from the birdbaths.
What has been overwhelming is the support from the local community. Cards, presents, funding, materials, energy, smiles, notes, plants — all have been a HUGE part of this enormous first year at The BEE Gardens. The locals coming together with such positivity around our project is what I’m most grateful for.
Thank you so much to Open Gardens Victoria for your fantastic grant! I am so darn excited to get started on all of the wonderful projects and make The BEE Gardens bigger and better for both humans and wildlife!
South Melbourne BEE Gardens & The Heart Gardening Project
*For more information about the South Melbourne BEE Gardens, see The Heart Gardening Project website or follow the project on Instagram @theheartgardeningproject