Lavender’s Blue & Bees

 

I recently read a tweet (on Twitter, no less)that immediately struck a chord , as I am sure that it would for many people. It asked what you would wish for . My grandmother always used to say ‘Be careful what you wish for ‘ and of course, as a child, I never really understood what she meant by that – the only things that I wished for as a child were things that I couldn’t possibly imagine feeling bad about having ! Only as I have grown into myself in adulthood have I really understood what she meant.

I have a thing for lavender . It’s a long term thing, although I can’t remember exactly when it started.

Probably – I think – when I was young .  Smell is so evocative , and can take you back , in an instant, to Way Back When. . . lavender bags made out of Liberty fabric and tied carefully with a ribbon ,stashed away in my Grandma’s dark old oak carved cupboards . . . the lavender china pomander with birds painted upon it that sat upon her dressing table . . . bags of ( largely lavender ) pot pouri spotted (and deeply nosebag inhaled)  in souvenir shops as a child on holiday in Devon . . . and , in the distance , if I listen very carefully I can hear faint strains of  ‘ Lavender’s Blue (Dilly Dilly) ‘  travelling across the years from Childhood Land . Yesterday I looked up the lyrics on Wikipedia :

Lavender’s Blue , dilly dilly , Lavender’s Green ,

 When I am King , dilly dilly , You shall be Queen

Who told you so , dilly dilly ,who told you so ?

Twas my own heart, dilly dilly , that told me so .

 

Call up your men , dilly dilly , set them to work ,

Some with a rake dilly dilly , some with a fork .

Some to make hay  dilly dilly , some to thresh corn ,

While you and I dilly dilly keep ourselves warm .

 

Lavender’s Green , dilly dilly , Lavender’s Blue ,

If you love me , dilly dilly , I will love you .

Let the birds sing , dilly dilly , and the lambs play

We shall be safe , dilly dilly , out of harms way .

 

I love to dance , dilly dilly , I love to sing ,

When I am Queen , dilly dilly , you’ll be my king .

Who told me so , dilly dilly , who told me so ?

I told myself , dilly dilly , I told me so .

 

It seems strange to write those words here , and even more so to talk about them . It all seems almost unbearably twee, out of place, out of synch .  This world that we live in ,of I-Pods and Internet . . . can it accomodate something as old fashioned as lavender , as bygone as the china bird painted pomander that sat upon my grandma’s dressing table ?

Much has been written about lavender having been introduced to this country by the romans.  Of the Elizabethans using lavender to make wine . And of lavender being used as an antiseptic in the trenches during world war 1.  Much has also been  written of lavender being used to  flavour cheese, sweets & biscuits.   I found an excellent potted history of lavender useage here at http://lavenderfarm.com/history   .  And there are probably more, if you search for them.

I always carry  a bottle of lavender with me .  For cuts , it acts as a great , neat antiseptic ; and for burnt little fingers , blisters are ruled out of the equation with a drop of the Magic Stuff .  For relaxation – drops in the bath , or on the t-shirts of fractious children ;  and for panic attacks , anxiety or just feeling out of synch , or ‘ sorts ‘ .  And for inducing sleep – a few drops on the pillow and you’re gone. And the resulting sleep is GOOD , a really deep sleep, just like the one that you knew that you really, really needed.   

We planted the tentative beginnings of a lavender hedge here around eight years ago now ,  running the length of the front garden .  We ordered quite a few plants to start off with ,  from http://www.norfolk-lavender.co.uk , they hold the national collection .  Included in our lavender hedge are the reliable Hidcote , Munstead and the very unusual pinkish lavender ‘Loddon Pink ‘.  The almost blue variety (in the first picture) is , I think , Hidcote – seeing it , one immediately makes sense of why it is  ‘Lavender’s Blue’  and not ‘Lavender’s purple’ .

Despite late (and rather severe) pruning in early March of this year , the lavender hedge has really blossomed , both literally and metaphorically . When you cut lavender right back to just above the last green showing shoot that sits waaaaay back down near the base of the plant it feels like you are committing a criminal act !  It is like cutting Samson’s hair.  This year I really did think that I had gone too far .  I didn’t hold out much hope .  But the lavender fought back , and some .  And there has been an exciting by-product of the Lavender Stand – lots and lots and lots of bees.

Bees were everywhere that I looked yesterday.  

 

They were outside of the front door , outside of the back door , in both gardens , Online   – EVERYWHERE .  

I do not know much , enough , about bees.  Last year , I could tell the difference between a big off the scale bumble-ey roly poly bumble bee , and a honey bee .  But not much else in between .  This year my powers of observation have improved slightly and I can differentiate between four or five different types of bee  that are visiting the garden and say fairly confidently ‘ that’s  a bee , but it isn’t the same as that bee’ –  but nothing else , no names , no types of bee . 

Yesterday afternoon , pushing Littlest in the pushchair down the path I noticed that there were even more bees than usual chowing on down at Lavender Junction. It is usually busy at The Lavender Diner , but today it was teeming .  The bees seemed a little more agitated than usual but I don’t think that the wind (which was really getting up) was helping .  I spotted quite a few bees with white – how shall we say it – derrieres.Later , back at home and settled back in front of my PC , I tried to identify them .  I visited http://bumblebeeconservation.org .  But not knowing enough about bees I wasn’t confident in accurately identifying it. And I probably hadn’t looked closely enough . Lots of bees have white bottoms , apparently.  Not just one White Bottom- ed Variety. If anybody reading this has any idea as to what kind of bee this may be then I would be very happy to hear to hear from you ; I’d love to know .

I do know that Bees are an endangered species .  I know this , but like most people I do not know enough .  I understand that there is an urgency about the situation . But I have probably been guilty of being too blase about it . After all , there are so many bees in the Welsh garden , especially this year . In the Spring we had planted a wildlife-friendly area at the bottom of the garden . It had done the trick – mission accomplished – wildlife everywhere, including many, many bees. In fact , the whole garden is a wildlife friendly garden , and we garden organically.  So it is too easy to forget that it isn’t like that everywhere . That there is a real problem out there , beyond our ‘ wildlife friendly , bee friendly ‘  garden .

Yet it also strikes me that if we can do it – provide a haven for bees , lots of them , then anybody can .  Here , it seems  to be in the planting .  If I could nominate a plant that the bees seem to really enjoy in the Welsh garden then it would be lavender . Closely followed by foxgloves and comfrey .  The drone of lost bees nosing comfrey and foxgloves fills the air at end of day watering time.

But back to Wishes . And What You Would Wish For ? I too have my little ‘I dream of ‘ wish . A Lavender farm . That’s it . And until then , a Lavender Hedge . With lots and lots of bees .

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About In a Welsh Garden

Artist,Illustrator,Pro-face and body painter,Blogger and Happy Gardener : )
This entry was posted in garden, gardening, green living, nature, sustainable living and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Lavender’s Blue & Bees

  1. I would love a lavender hedge like you, I have one big old one that I didn’t prune properly to start with and every year I chop at it and pray it will survive another year and some little ones in the wrong place where they get buried out of view by the time they flower, but I am sure the bees find them, and one in a pot which seems fine. Last time I bought some, the man said, cut them on the 7th day of the 7 th month and reduce them to 7 inches tall. Bit of a mystic meg he was. And if you cut them then, the bees don’t have the flowers…. you can drink tea made from lavender. I used to have a combo going of lavender, rose petals, limetree flower blossom and betony. Very calming, if a bit like drinking scented bath water 🙂

  2. Fabulous – love your tea combo ! Would like it in my bath but not sure about drinking it !!! Considering how I love lavender so much I don’t – strangely enough – like it in food /drink – I don’t know if that is psychological as we are not really used to the taste of it in food in this day & age , or maybe I just don’t enjoy it – yet , I could inhale the scent of lavender for hours on end, and be quite happy to do so !

    I cannot lay claim to any great knowledge on growing lavender hedges ; we planted a row of lavender and were lucky that most of it took well. We lost a few plants early on ; inevitable I think . The hedge has only really looked ‘hedge like’ this summer ; previous years it has just looked like a row of separate lavender plants . But this year – WOW ! Am LOVING it !

    btw – love your ‘mystic meg’ lavender man – sounds like a bit of a character !

  3. I too have a fascination with lavender and it’s because of the same song. As soon as I saw the title of the post it came back, like a warm hug, into my head.
    I had six lavender plants but one died suddenly after the snow. Bit of a gap in the small hedge. The bees go nuts for it though and it fascinates me to watch them.
    Lovely post. Great links for information.

  4. Thankyou for your lovely comments – Our lavender hedge has a gap in it too ! I was going to fill it with another lavender but some lovely , mad wild grass has grown in the gap so I decided to leave it there instead .The bees were there again today going crazy – but they seem quite agitated at the moment , I don’t know if we are upsetting them when we walk past with the pushchair or if there is anything going on bee-wise at this time of year ? Would Love to know !

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