Mr Plant Geek AKA Michael Perry, Rowse Honey’s gardening expert, spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk about the benefits of allowing weeds to grow freely in British gardens. Weeds may seem troublesome but they actually provide a plethora of benefits for wildlife in British gardens. Mr Plant Geek is working with honey brand Rowse to spearhead positive change for the bees through Hives For Lives – a program of vital initiatives that protects the bees and improves livelihoods through beekeeping.
Together with its partners, Rowse is spotlighting the critical role bees play, from maintaining biodiversity to food production.
And in turn, the vital role we can play in saving these important pollinators.
Weeds, in particular those that flower, are perfect for pollinators like bees.
Michael explained: ”Nectar is not just for summer… bees and other pollinating insects will be on the hunt at other times of year too!
“Spring nectar sources can help pollinators to refuel after their hibernation period, and in autumn it can help them to build energy reserves for the winter months.
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“Be sure to plant with the widest range of blooming periods in mind, so the wildlife never goes hungry.”
He told Express.co.uk: “Why would you pull up weeds? They’re great for pollinators”.
Despite weeds such as thistles, dandelions, docks and more, often being categorised as weeds and therefore being swiftly plucked from our gardens, Mr Plant Geek said he thinks attitudes towards the plants are beginning to change.
“I see this happening with dandelions,” Mr Plant Geek further explained.
“I think people are starting to have a different appreciation for dandelions and that’s almost the poster boy for the weed that we accept.
“I’m seeing so much chat about them and it’s really nice to see.”
Mr Plant Geek described his own front garden as a “bit controversial” as he allows various weeds to grow.
He has a patch of nettles and various thistles which are all great for pollinators, alongside the more “official” plants that are good for these insects too.
“What is a weed anyway? This is totally subjective,” he said.
“I quite like the effect as well. That juxtaposition, it makes a really wild garden and it proves that a garden that is great for pollinators doesn’t have to be one or the other.
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“It can be a whole blend of wild plants, cultivated plants but also, it could include plants that are not as useful for pollinators.
“But if you’ve got that great balance there, then you can actually grow a lot of the plants you would like to but just make sure that there’s basically something there for everyone.”
Weeds are plants generally seen as being in the wrong place, and can make the neatest lawn or border look messy.
Mr Plant Geek said gardeners need to stop accepting people’s judgement about weeds.
He added: “In English culture we seem to be so obsessed with weeds.
“It’s just a plant in the wrong place.”
“These are really good for wildlife in many different ways.”
Mr Plant Geek also described weeds as “beautiful” and just a “plant in a different context”.
The plant expert also said a dandelion is “no different” to a gazania but is simply viewed in a different way.
“We’ve started to think of it as a weed,” he said.
“I think since building my garden I’m really letting weeds come here and there.
“I think the difference is when you let the balance tip and then of course because weeds are so recognisable, if you have 90 percent weeds then that potentially is a different type of garden but then that’s still good for wildlife as well.
“Also, where does weed cross over into wildflower?”
Interestingly, weeds aren’t just great for pollinators but for humans too.
If you’re looking to get experimental with your weeds, then you could try popping some dandelions in a salad or even grinding down the roots to make coffee.
The Rowse gardening expert explained: “If you put a dandelion in a box under a pot in the dark, you’ll actually get really tender foliage which is great for salads.
“You can grind down the roots to make coffee as well!”
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