This week Paul Birmingham from our Education, Families and Youth team shows us how him and his kids are preparing for the arrival of bumblebees this summer, by planting their garden's own mini poppyfield.

As hints of spring start to emerge, me and the family are slowly turning our thoughts to our garden. Aside from dusting off the old garden toys and re-filling the sand pit, our kids are also big fans of gardening and in particular, planting bulbs and flowers. So, during half term, we decided to sow ourselves some colourful wildflower pots.

Step 1: Get your kit ready

For me, preparation is everything when getting the kids involved - one missing ‘ingredient’ or a minor delay in proceedings always leads to tears, boredom or both! So here's what you need for this activity:

  • A suitable spare patch of earth, or a large pot or planter filled with peat-free compost
  • Mixed annual seeds – look for packs that contain common (field) poppy, corn marigold, corncockle, cornflower and corn chamomile. When you're Googling, they are often called 'cornfield annual seed mixes'.  

Step 2: fill the bottom of your pots with stones

Putting in stones or broken pottery in your pots stops drainage holes getting clogged, and provides a use for that cracked crockery! 

Step 3: fill with soil and compost

Step 4: sprinkle in a mix of seeds

You only need 2-5 grams of seeds for every square metre, so if you're using a pot like us you'll probably have some spare from a pack (unless like my kids, yours too struggle to comprehend the words "That's enough"!!!).

You don't need to bury the seeds just press them into the surface with your hand. 

Step 5: more compost

Step 6: water

If we go through an especially dry spell, give them a bit more water.

Step 7: make some lovely signs

Step 8: wait...patiently

So now all we have to do is wait until our bumblebee haven is in bloom! This is the hard part for the kids – it took little more than an hour before they were demanding to go and see their new “flowers”!

If you want to make a mini poppy or cornfield to help the bees and make your garden look lovely this summer, all you really need to buy is some seeds, which you can get from our shop.