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Bee-ing even greener at Howbery Park

We are committed to cherishing our beautiful landscape at Howbery Business Park, making the most of outdoor spaces for our community to enjoy, and playing our part in encouraging bio-diversity. Our most recent initiative – championing bumblebees – joins a whole raft of other measures introduced over recent years, which those based here clearly appreciate.

The beehives that we introduced to Howbery four years ago have proved a particular hit with our community. Places on our bee workshops – either to extract honey from the hives, or to look inside them while wearing protective clothing – are always full, and jars of honey are snapped up. The kitchen also keeps a portion for cooking in our restaurant.

The interest in our honeybees is typical of how our community embraces our various eco-friendly measures, encouraging us to carry on in the same vein. So when we were considering how to improve bio-diversity on site further last year, the obvious starting point was to do more at Howbery to support other species of bees.

New initiative buzzes in

We have pledged to support bumblebees at Howbery as a part of biodiversity scheme and are aiming to meet objectives set by Nurture Landscapes (which maintains our grounds) and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. The objectives include introducing ‘homes’ for wildlife, buying certain ‘bee-friendly’ plants, buying peat free compost, and putting up information boards to improve bee knowledge. There are currently 24 species of bumblebee in the UK and 8 of them are endangered. Two species became extinct in the last 80 years..

The Howbery gardeners are therefore now recording sightings of bees, and noting which plants they are visiting. By ensuring that we have flowers suitable for bees at different points in the year, we can ensure we are providing continual food for these important pollinators while they are out and about. Most hibernate in winter.

When we have met all the objectives, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust logo will be inscribed on the blank petal of a flower-shaped award. We will then choose another area of biodiversity – such as butterflies, insects, birds, amphibians or wildflowers – to focus on to gain our next petal.

Signing up to the Nurture scheme gives structure to our biodiversity work, allowing us to clearly demonstrate significant biodiversity improvements, which we have previously worked on piece-meal. For example, we have developed different habitats in our grounds ranging from ornamental flowers to wildflower areas to a bug hotel.

Trees and composting

We also already have a programme in place to preserve and manage our many existing trees and to plant new ones, working with Heritage Tree Services. Howbery is home to many unique trees from all around the world, some of them planted in the Victorian era when the Manor House was a family home. Last year, we produced a video with Heritage about our trees (you can find it on our website), and invited our community to join us on a tree tour – another big hit.

Many of our trees are deciduous, and our gardeners collect fallen leaves in autumn to go on the compost heap. They also add our grass cuttings to help produce compost, which is then added to our soil during the following year. The team also chips our woody garden waste for use as a decorative dressing on our beds. All our green waste is re-used on site. Meanwhile, members of our community are encouraged to do a spot of their own gardening, on one of our dozen mini allotments, which we created in 2017.

Worth the effort

The Howbery community tell us time and again how much they love our beautiful grounds, and back our commitment to caring for the landscape and wildlife.

For example, Jonna Mundy, CEO of You HR Consultancy, commented: “Howbery is everything you would expect a business park to be and more. The grounds are beautifully maintained, there are boats to borrow by the river, and it’s ahead of the game on so many things, such as corporate social responsibility – for example with the bee initiative”.

This sort of praise shows how acting responsibly, and creating lovely working places is worth the effort. Here at Howbery, as well as knowing it is the right thing to do, we believe that nurturing our green spaces is a real draw for tenants, visitors, and people arranging meetings here.

Thank you

We are so pleased that the advice to slow the spreading of the coronavirus is being followed.

We would like to thank everybody who is staying sensibly at home and, of course, all those who are out and about keeping the country running and caring for those in need.

D.Bowles@hrwallingford.com