PRESS RELEASE – 8 November 2016

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We are proud to announce that the Heritage Rose & Bee Garden on Silloth Green has won a Bees’ Needs Award.

The Award is run in conjunction with Defra and the National Pollinator Strategy. The Award is presented to Green Flag Award or Green Flag Community Award winning parks and green spaces in England that have made improvements to encourage pollinators across towns, cities and the wider countryside.  Silloth Green has been awarded a Green Flag for four years in succession. The coveted award is a benchmark national standard for parks and green spaces in the UK. It recognises that the Green meets the extremely high standards set by Keep Britain Tidy.

Habitat loss is a key factor affecting pollinator population and this award is looking to increase awareness and contribute to improved pollinator-friendly environments.  Applicant sites are required to prove that they are making positive changes to their green spaces that encourage and increase pollinator-friendly habitats and food sources throughout the year.

A panel of experts selected winners, with the top five projects being presented with their Award at a special event which will take place at Kew Gardens, London on Tuesday 8th November.  Vivian Russell will be attending the Bees’ Needs Champions event on behalf of Silloth.

Tony Markley, Mayor of Silloth said

“This is a fantastic achievement for Silloth and is a continuation of the achievements of recent years. None of this would have been possible without teamwork.  Vivian has led the project, with support from the Town Council’s grounds maintenance team and other volunteers.  The Bee Hotel was novel idea for a seaside town and replicates the Pagoda up on the hill which overlooks the sea.  We always welcome visitors to the town but the Bee Hotel provides visitors of the insect variety with a place to stay too.”

The sunken Heritage Rose Garden was created in 1953 to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.  Measuring 30m by 20m, it lies close to the sea, protected for the most part by a shelter belt of rhododendron and holly. The garden was renovated in 2012 but by mid 2014, many of the roses were failing due to poor drainage caused by compaction in the underlying clay base. Rectifying the drainage would still have left the problem of rose sickness, requiring the replacement of tons of earth. This led to a complete rethink of the garden.  Silloth Town Council decided to bring the garden into the 21st century and address pressing concerns over the welfare of our bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects, while at the same time preserving the history of the site.

The garden has now been entirely replanted with bee and butterfly friendly plants, including 40 roses which attract bees and withstand the wind blowing off the sea where the garden is exposed.

Rose hedges divide the garden into four sections: garden plants for bees facing the sea, wild flowers for bees facing the Arcade, butterfly plants facing the Green, and a decorative vegetable plot around hazel wigwams with a double row of dahlias.

The roses were planted in cardboard boxes using fresh soil, as this is the best method of dealing with ‘rose sickness’.

In the middle of the garden is our Bee Hotel, a replica of the Victorian Pagoda at the top of the wooded hill above the Splash Pool, built by the Silloth Green Maintenance team. The sunny side facing the Green is dedicated to nesting sites for solitary bees, the other three sides serve as winter hibernation and shelter for all the insects which we hope will visit our garden.

Interpretation panels have been installed with more detail about the garden, the types of bees and butterflies it is planted for, and info on the life cycle of bumblebees, honeybees and solitary bees.

As the new Bee Garden began to flourish and the bees, bugs and butterflies began to arrive, word spread and local people began to develop interest.  Word soon spread beyond Silloth too, and people of all ages travelled from many different locations to visit the garden. The garden’s creator Vivian Russell, has spent many hours talking to them, discussing the different species of bees, bugs and butterflies, as well as the many different plants in the garden.

The Bee and Bug Hotel provides nesting sites for solitary bees and a dry place for butterflies, moths, beetles, ladybirds, lacewings and earwigs to shelter and over winter.  Each insect has a role to play in a garden and we rely on the diversity of plants and creatures to help the garden function as a natural balanced ecosystem with no attempt to control or interfere with their lives.

The garden has become a place where everyone can come on a sunny day, sit on the grassy bank, on one of the many benches, or on their mobility scooters and watch the beauty of nature at work.

Bill Jefferson OBE, Chair of the Parks Committee and Chair of Silloth in Bloom Community Team said

“I am delighted that Vivian’s major creation of the Silloth Bee Garden has received national specialist success, coming on top of the Royal Horticultural Society tributes from this year’s judges at Cumbria and National level. It has been an outstanding personal achievement for all her hard work and professional dedication. Well done and all our thanks.”

In the 2016 Cumbria in Bloom competition, the Heritage Rose & Bee Garden was a winner of the Royal Horticultural Society ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ Award, gaining a Level 5 ‘Outstanding’ result. The Heritage Rose and Bee Garden was also winner of the Royal Horticultural Society ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ National Certificate of Distinction.

Vivian Russell was recognised for her ‘Outstanding contribution to Cumbria in Bloom’ with a ‘joint’ Community Champion Award, which acknowledges all the hours she has spent working on the Heritage Rose and Bee Garden, planting of the flower beds and planters on Criffel Street and supporting the various Silloth in Bloom projects this year.