7 Jan 2021

My first three months at the Garden

Ardd Fotaneg · Botanic Garden

I’ve already written a couple of blog posts, but I thought I should introduce myself! I’m Katie, and I’m a placement student based in the Science Centre. I’m here for ten months as part of my Biology degree at the University of York. Whilst I’m here, I will mainly be involved in the Saving Pollinators project, which I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of, as I’m very passionate about pollinators and their conservation.

I’ve been here three months so far, and I’ve already been involved in so much so I’ll just pick out a few of the main tasks I’ve been doing.

My first task was to write some blogs about pollinators for the Garden’s website. I was very excited to do this, as I love writing about nature and having the opportunity to spread the word about the importance of pollinators and how people can help conserve them. This also meant that I could get out into the Garden and take some photos to incorporate into my blogs. It’s been an excellent chance for me to practice my photography skills and actually see what I was writing about in action. For example, when I wrote my blog about flowering ivy, I spent a lot of time not only photographing the pollinators using it, but also watching how many different species of pollinator were visiting it. As well as this, I got to practice my pollinator identification.

A particularly special opportunity I’ve had is to help gather and clean seeds for the National Seed Bank of Wales. I collected bird’s-foot trefoil seeds from the mini meadow outside the Science Centre, alongside the other placement students and Elliot Waters, Biophilic Wales’ Conservation Assistant. I also cleaned red clover seeds in the laboratory using the aspirator, which cleans the seeds by removing any debris that is a different weight to the seeds.

I have loved doing these two tasks, but my favourite thing that I’ve been involved in is beekeeping with the Garden’s beekeeper, Lynda Christie. I’m obsessed with bees, so this has been an invaluable opportunity for me. It has involved me either shadowing Lynda and the volunteers or doing small jobs like putting varroa mite boards in the bottom of the hives, since I’m not a beekeeper (although I hope that I will be soon). I’ve already learnt so much about beekeeping from Lynda and from just a few visits to the different apiaries at the Garden. Also, I’ve contributed to making beeswax candles and soap in the laboratory, which has been a really interesting skill to learn. It’s very satisfying to see the end product before it goes off to the shop.

In addition to work, I’ve enjoyed just exploring the Garden on my lunch breaks and on weekends. I didn’t know the Garden very well when I got here, so I’ve been trying to get to know it and visit each part of it. My favourite part is the Wallace Garden because when I arrived, it was still full of beautiful colours and contained pollinator-friendly plants. In addition, I’m very lucky to have the walk across Waun Las National Nature Reserve as my ‘commute’ into work. I see something each morning and evening, whether it be deer, buzzards or red kites. It also has magnificent views of the sunrises and sunsets. I still can’t believe this place is my office!

I can’t wait to see what I get up to in my remaining seven months at the Garden!