In my opinion, if you're going to bother to do research, you need to communicate it to those that need it and to whom it will make a difference.
This means the project doesn't stop when sampling comes to an end. Nor even when you've published your results. No, a good project takes on something of a life of its own with opportunities to spread the findings to new or wider audiences as each month passes. It can be hard fitting all this in with busy schedules but it really is at the heart of what the RHS Plants for Bugs project set out to do.
So, while lead scientist, Dr Andy Salisbury, has been hard at work on the analysis for the second results paper, he managed to find time to present at a couple of worthy events this last month or so.
The first was the National Honey Show at Addlestone in Surrey on Friday 30 October. The talk was entitled 'Prioritising Pollinators'. I opened with a review of garden pollinators before handing over to Andy to cover RHS pollinator research (Plants for Bugs first paper) and initiatives (RHS Perfect for Pollinator lists). Despite an early start - 9.30am - on a horrendously wet day, we had good attendance and feedback from beekeepers. A quick look around the show afterwards was impressive. Hundreds of types of honey being exhibited, not to mention all the other honeybee products. Andy was particularly taken with the Star Wars themed beeswax models!
Wildlife gardening takes leaps and bounds
The second event was very special; the 10th Anniversary Conference of the Wildlife Gardening Forum on Tuesday 17 November at the Natural History Museum, London. Both Andy and myself are trustees of the Forum which currently has over 800 individual members and represents more than 380 organisations.
There were inspiring presentations looking at the leaps and bounds that have been made in understanding and appreciating garden biodiversity in the last few decades.
Professor Chris Baines, considered the 'grandfather of wildlife gardening' and author of the classic "How to make a Wildlife Garden", explained how wildlife gardeners - once considered the 'mavericks' of horticulture - are now embraced by public and government alike as the future of how we should be managing gardens in a sustainable world. Garden designer, RHS Council Member and Chelsea Flower Show judge, James Alexander Sinclair, demonstrated how garden design and show gardens have evolved - from the human-centred rhododendron-packed gardens of the 1960s and 70s to the 2015 Chelsea Flower 'Best in Show' naturalistic garden designed by Dan Pearson.
Andy's talk on the Plants for Bugs pollinator results followed in the afternoon. A fitting tribute to the Forum which inspired the research over eight years ago.