With its backdrop of trees growing on the fringes of the ancient fortifications of Mdina, and the view out over Mosta, Valletta, and to the blue of the Mediterranean beyond, the Pollinator Haven adds a glorious splash of strong eco-friendly colour to the majestic sweep of the Palazzo's roof space. The Haven quickly becomes a favourite with all who work or visit the Museum.
Since its installation in February 2020, the pollinator garden has been visited by the Large Carpenter Bee, the Common Blue Butterfly and the White Digger Bee, among other pollinators. They enjoy foraging on the plants such as the fragrant herbs Thyme and Rosemary, as well as other Maltese plants, including Widnet il-Baħar (Maltese Rock-Centaury), Giżi ta’ Malta (Maltese Stocks) and Sempreviva ta’ Għawdex (Maltese Helichrysium). The plants have been purposely chosen to represent and celebrate Malta’s local ecosystem, with many of the varieties being either endemic or indigenous.
Apart from the environmental benefits, the pollinator haven serves as a recognition of Olof and Nella’s fondness for rural life on the island. The couple owned a second home, called Villa Brunswick, which was a farmhouse in L-Imġarr, Malta. Here, the couple established a small farm, with a chicken coop, a donkey named Sallie, and by growing a few crops. Olof fully documented his agricultural pursuits in his diaries, where he also refers to his own beehives, which he established at the Villa. When they were in residence at Villa Brunswick, they also enjoyed going on long walks in the surrounding countryside.
The rooftop pollinator garden is watered using rainwater from the Palazzo’s original well in the courtyard, as a water-saving measure. Being an island that experiences long periods of drought, people often relied on collected water supplies, or tapped into the natural underground aquifer as their primary source of water.
CONTRIBUTORS TO THE POLLINATOR HAVEN
The pollinator haven was made possible with the enthusiastic support of several different organisations and sponsors. Environmental NGO Friends of the Earth Malta (FoEM) helped Palazzo Falson generate the initial funding for the project, the funds being directed to FoEM, with support from the VO Fund, which is managed by the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector (MCVS).
Vivacity installed and part-sponsored the rooftop garden, using specially designed ‘pillows’ on which the plants are rooted. Vivacity’s Mediterranean-green, rooftop ecosystem has been designed to emulate the local Maltese ecosystem, in order for it to survive the baking summer heat and winds – just as wild plants have to do – with very little water. Local health-food company, Good Earth, helped sponsor part of the pollinator haven, while Aviation Cosmetics Malta Ltd. (ACM) helped sponsor the pump used to get the water from the well up to the rooftop garden.