Do Bees Need Weeds?

RHS Do Bees Need Weeds? – Book review

Read about this compendium of practical and easy-to-understand advice from the RHS that will help you to garden in sustainable and environmentally friendly ways. Reviewed by plantman John Hoyland.

RHS Do Bees Need Weeds? A Gardener’s collection of handy hints for greener gardening  
by Holly Farrell and Gareth Richards
Octopus Publishing, £14.99
ISBN 978-1784727147

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The authors of Do Bees Need Weeds? point out that gardens in the UK occupy more space than the combined area of all of the country’s Nature Reserves, and so the way we garden potentially has an enormous impact on the natural world and particularly on climate change and biodiversity. The aim of this book is to help even those whose gardens might extend only to a few pots or a window box to become greener gardeners.

The book is laid out in a question-and-answer format that encompasses all the sorts of questions that we gardeners ask ourselves as we try to garden responsibly and with minimum negative impact on the environment.

The range is wide: Are garden lights harmful? Can I conquer builders’ rubble? Is it ever OK to have a bonfire? Are any vegetables pest-proof? All these questions are briefly answered and then the surrounding issues are expanded and elaborated. The answer to a question about green corridors, for example, explores the importance of connecting gardens to the wider landscape, how this can be achieved and goes on to explain pollen networks for bees and ‘hedgehog highways’.

More than 200 pages of answers results in a book that is densely packed with information, but this is laid out in bite-sized sections and with attractive illustrations that render even complex issues easy to understand. Comprehensive coverage of the subject makes this book particularly suitable for first-time gardeners.

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It can sometimes feel that in gardening we carry on our shoulders a large part of the burden of saving the planet, with strictures on what products to use, what to grow and how to garden. Happily, this book is never prescriptive and shows how we can take pleasure in gardening while at the same time doing something positive for the environment.