Maureen Little – Q&A

The Little Book of Plants for Pollinators: A Gardener’s Guide by Maureen Little was published on 16 May 2023.

Maureen answered a few of my questions.

1. Tell us a little about The Little Book of Plants for Pollinators.

I suppose the title The Little Book of Plants for Pollinators: A Gardener’s Guide sums it up in a nutshell.

Primarily it’s about plants that are attractive to all kinds of insect pollinators – not just bees. Butterflies, moths, flies, wasps, and beetles, too, play a vital role in pollination. There’s lots of information about what those pollinating insects need in terms of food and habitat, and which plants fulfil those needs. So in the book there are a series of plant lists covering, in total, more than 100 annuals and biennials, herbaceous perennials, shrubs, sub-shrubs and climbers, and trees.

The second part of the title A Gardener’s Guide is also important. The book showcases a selection of plants which are not only attractive to pollinators but are also garden-worthy. By this, I mean that these are the kind of plants that you would be happy to plant in your garden. Therefore, the book doesn’t cover what gardeners would look on as wildflowers (or weeds, depending on your definition), which, although they are of inestimable benefit to a diverse number of insects, are not usually the sort of plant that you would want in your prize border.

In addition, the plants that are included are suitable for an ‘average’ size of garden, which in Great Britain is apparently 188 square metres (London is slightly less, Scotland more). You won’t find any large trees in the recommendations, for example, simply because they are too big, not because they’re not suitable for pollinators.

2. What inspired the book?

I had written a book about gardening for bees some years back – 12 years, in fact – and I decided it was time to re-visit the whole topic of gardening, not just for bees, but for other pollinators too.

Our buzzy friends aren’t in the environmental news spotlight that often, but they are there in the background all the time – a bit like the chorus in a Greek play: they are necessary and often overlooked, but without them, the whole structure would fall apart.

I noticed that a number of excellent books on similar topics concentrate on the insects, rather than the plants, so I thought I would stop the gap, hence The Little Book of Plants for Pollinators: A Gardener’s Guide.

3. How much planning went into the book?

A huge amount.

Obviously, the writing is the main part: how to structure the book; what to include and what to leave out; what the ‘feel’ of the book should be; the length. The list is almost endless.

And it’s not just the writing – for example, there’s the sourcing of photographs and illustrations, and deciding which ones would best complement the writing.

And because I have self-published, I had to find a designer, printer, and PR company to deal with the aspects that I couldn’t.

4. Is there anything about the process of publishing a book that still surprises you?

Probably just how long it takes! There are so many people involved and each has to be given sufficient time to do what they need to do. However long you think it will take, double it – no treble it!

5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?

I love growing things – obviously! But we have moved fairly recently to a property with next to no garden, so I descend on my friend periodically to get my hands dirty in her plant nursery.

I also enjoy looking around gardens. It’s lovely to see what remarkable things people do with their own space.

Reading is another. I read a whole range of books, but for relaxation, I love crime novels, as long as they’re not too gory. Good old Agatha Christie is one of my favourites, as are Ann Cleves and Ellie Griffiths.

I love visiting art galleries, too. I’m intrigued by different art movements and the social and historical contexts in which the artists painted.

I also love classical music and have my own classical music show on our local community radio ( I choose all the music, work out the links, and then broadcast it – great fun!

6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?

That’s a tricky one. Usually if anyone asks me what my favourite book is, I say the one I’m reading!

But one book for the rest of my life?

Although I’m not particularly religious it would have to be the Life Application Study Bible. It covers the Scripture, obviously, but it also puts it into context with notes about culture, history, background, places, and theological concepts. With more than 2,400 pages it would certainly keep me going for a very long time!

7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?

Nothing to do with writing or gardening.

It would probably be: What’s the most nerve-wracking thing you’ve ever done?

To which I would reply: A parachute jump in aid of charity – not a tandem one, either, it was static line, all on my own. For a few seconds (which felt like a lifetime) the parachute didn’t open – but the training kicked in and all was well.

About the Book

Long-time gardener and horticultural expert Maureen
Little knows how important pollinators are and has
decided it’s time to share her knowledge of how to draw
them in…

The Little Book of Plants for Pollinators includes a
compilation of one hundred plants including annuals and
biennials, perennials, shrubs and sub-shrubs, and trees.
To be included in this guide, the plant needs to fit three
criteria: it will be attractive to pollinators, garden-worthy
and suitable for an average UK garden.

As we become increasingly environmentally conscious and
committed to protecting our bee population, The Little
Book of Plants for Pollinators does something different to many of the books on the
market: it focuses on the flowers which attract pollinators.

Based on in-depth research, plus scientific and empirical recommendations, this book
informs us of the characteristics of flowers and what makes them attractive to pollinators.
Each plant entry includes details of the flowering season, the optimal growing conditions,
soil requirements and propagation techniques.

Three out of four crops across the globe producing fruits or seeds for human use depend on
pollinators. As a result, there’s rising demand for knowledge about providing a pollinatorfriendly environment in the garden. With this guide, we can give something back to

One Comment Add yours

  1. Sounds like a lovely wee book 🙂


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