The Concept of Bee Borders
The Bee Border (Herbaceous Border, English border) is a large flowerbed, where nectar-rich colorful perennials are combined with grasses and other species native to Estonia to create an ecologically diverse, colorful flowerbed that blooms from spring to autumn. Bee Borders can be built both as classic flowerbeds as well as elements that line the roads, between which it is pleasant to move through.
We are experimenting with bee borders that are typical of English horticulture in Tallinn for the first time. We see it as a way to create rich urban landscaping that supports urban ecology in a way that would meet the expectations of people with a classical sense of beauty more than a wildflower meadow. We also want to reduce the negative effects of the urban environment on people and pollinators through bee borders.
It has been scientifically proven that natural urban landscaping has a calming effect on city dwellers, it reduces stress caused by a hectic urban environment. Colorful plants with lush forms make the environment more attractive. Urban nature in general allows us to be in closer contact with nature: for example, to notice the change of seasons and the development of natural life forms. Bee borders also provide a valuable dining table and habitat for pollinators.
We built the bee borders in the spring of 2021 in the places shown on the drawing. These are the places where the Pollinator Highway crosses paths with the city streets. In this way, the bee borders act as gates to the Pollinator Highway. People walking in the area realize, "This is where the Pollinator Highway runs!"
But what distinguishes bee borders from the so-called ordinary flower beds that appear in the city in summer? To understand the nature and importance of bee borders, we need to start further. Humans have an inherent need for visual beauty. As beauty, we often understand orderliness. The same goes for people's efforts to beautify their surroundings. We have a desire to create so-called improved nature. WIld urban environments in which no one intervenes at all are often perceived as ugly, accidental or unsafe. It is important to understand that there is a downside to trying to create order around you: man-made, orderly landscape architecture is often species-poor and useless from the perspective of urban ecology. A good balance should be sought between nature and orderliness.
But there are more reasons why we love to build attractive flower beds than the desire to create order. The beauty of Estonian nature is represented in modest halftones. The local environment does not offer us as many blooming plants in a wide range of colors as, for example, the natural environment of Southern Europe or North America does. In order to create more flowering and bring in more variety of colors to the surroundings, colorful plants have been introduced here as cultural species. We grow plants that grow naturally in other parts of the world, for example on the roadsides and prairies, in our gardens.
As part of the Pollinator Highway project, we monitor the growth of bee border plants and how they cope in the urban environment. We will gather feedback from residents, whether in their opinion the flowerbeds bring additional value to the environment or not, as well as observe whether and which pollinators find their way to the flower beds.
Planting Scheme of Mustjõe Bee Border
Locations of the Pollinator Highway Bee Borders
Mustjõe Bee Border
The Mustjõgi bee border is designed using outstanding warm-colored cultivated plants. In spring, the yellow-flowered Forest Pillar (Tulipa Sylvestris) creates ambient, and in June, Papaver Orientale brings flaming red tones to the area. As the summer progresses, the sunny day lilies (Homerocallis lilioasphodelus), the bright daybird (Rudbeckia Fulgida) and the Helenium (Helenium Autumnale) take over. Geranium, Wild Oysters, Veronicastrum Virginicum and Aster Amellus enhance the overall yellow tones even more whilst introducing bright blue spots here and there.
The History of Bee Borders
Large-scale perennial flower beds, which bloom throughout the summer season, became popular for the first time in the 18th and 19th centuries in Victorian England. Then exotic plants began to be used in English gardens. At the end of the 19th century - the beginning of the 20th century, this style was popularized in England by Gertrud Jekyll, who collaborated with William Robinson. In the second half of the 20th century, this style was further developed by the American landscape architect and gardener tandem Oheme van Sweden under the name The New American Garden. However, one of the best-known names in the history of species-rich perennial flower beds is Piet Oudolf, who started his garden in the Netherlands in the 1980s. His style has grown into a new perennial movement that has become popular in Europe and America.
The pioneer of the English-style gardens in Estonia is Reet Palusalu, who started her garden near Räpina in 2004. She has brought or ordered most of her plants from England.