The Melissa garden bee sanctuary is an example of natural beekeeping in the heart of London’s Islington. The fantastic London Open Garden Squares weekend allows you to visit this and a plethora of other London gardens for £10 (£12 on the day). Many of the gardens aren’t usually open to the public such as 10, Downing Street and Holloway Prison.
The scheme started in 1998 with 40 private garden squares opening to the public and peaked at 215 gardens in 2011. I’ve been twice, once starting to the west and walking into the centre and the second time scouring the leafy niches in East London, by the river. The barge gardens at Tower bridge were quite remarkable.
Some of the gardens are absolutely tiny and the Melissa garden is one of these. It houses just two beehives, one Warré and one Peroni. The Peroni hive was designed by an Argentinian natural beekeeper and a July swarm choose this as their home a year and a half ago but unfortunately the lore proved itself in this case and it wasn’t worth a fly. Both hives are waiting for new arrivals and by June 14th when the Open Garden Squares event is held, who knows?
This year the plan is to visit the cluster of gardens around St Pancras. Reclaimed wastelands have been turned into green spaces where life – both flora and fauna – can once again establish themselves. There’s a vineyard by a lorry park and an orchard beside a cash & carry car park and a forest garden which was started in 2006 so should be producing well now (and there are beehives here too). A skip garden sounds intriguing and the only thing left to do now is research the watering holes…
Go to London