Number 14 in the KNOW YOUR WILD BEES CAMPAIGN.
Plant biodiversity is the answer to the bigger question of how do we keep all our bee species around. Planting flowers is always a good thing, this definitely increases the overall number of bees in any location. However, what it does is increase the overall number of generalist bees, that are happy to make do with many kinds of flowers, and often do well simply on weeds. The truth is that to affect conservation of all bee species we have to retain wild areas, maintain natural areas, and be the caretakers of rich, bio diverse, plant communities that provide the necessary pollen for all the species, particularly the ones that are highly specialized and therefore using plants we are unlikely to plant in our gardens or in pollinator meadows. Look around you, what can you do to help keep plant communities healthy; pull invasive species, provide disturbance in those environments that are early successional, control deer populations, and support others who do these things professionally. Good luck pilgrim.
Numerous times over Christmas, I found myself, as I so often do, scoring the bookshelves in Waterstones. There is something very relaxing about going into a bookshop and exploring whats on display. At some point, I usually end up in the cooking section, where I’m always greeted with a huge array to shuffle through. I find it fascinating to compare how they’ve all been designed, and I love nothing more than finding one that makes me think, wow, I need to have this book! This happened last year when I stumbled across the Grammar of Spice by Caz Hildebrand. I’m a real sucker for a well-designed book and this was not only that, it was also a quirky approach to a cookbook: exploring the world of spices and relating them to art and design. A few weeks later, to my delight, I found another book written and designed by Caz Hildebrand, Herbarium, that followed the same format as the Grammar of Spice. They made the perfect pairing! While reading them, I began to realise just how closely both books related to bees and pollinators. Okay, so I knew herbs needed pollinators, but it had never occurred to me that spices need pollinators too. I see them every day in the kitchen and I sort of overlooked the fact these powders were originally plants! Whether you’re a cook, gardener or pollinator enthusiast these books are great…
The Grammar of Spice
So this is it. I love this book! It’s not really a cookbook – it doesn’t provide recipes – it catalogues spices (kind of like a cooking reference book but it’s much better than that). Spices are listed alongside their origins, ingredients to pair them with as well as suggestions on how they can be used in cooking. The author Caz Hildebrand has meticulously matched the spices with patterns originally published in The Grammar of the Orient, a book produced by Owen Jones, and is widely considered to be one of the 19th century designers masterpieces. Jones’s designs are the perfect match for the diverse array of spices and their vibrant colours and origins.
The perfect accompaniment to The Grammar of Spice! As its title suggests, Herbarium is a volume cataloguing herbs and their origins while providing advice on how to grow them, as well as recommending how they can be used in cooking and for healing purposes. Hildebrands patterned illustrations are inspired by modernist design and offer a fun and quirky alternative to the patterns in The Grammar of Spice. I can see myself dipping in and out of these books for a long time in search of inspiration. They are neither cookbooks or reference guides. They seem more like works of art in themselves.
The flower doesn’t dream of the bee. It blossoms and the bee comes.
What is Art, monsieur, but Nature concentrated?