Thursday, June 29, 2017

Happy Bees and Butterflies; Come See What's Blooming

I've been waiting and waiting for the perfect time to show you our bee and butterfly garden. Turns out, there is no perfect time. If I waited until the plants filled in, or all bloomed, or the rain stopped, or the weeds magically disappeared, you would never see it. So, as they say, there is no time like the present...

Here's what it looks like on the 29th day of June, 2017. Enjoy.

Bumblebee seeking nectar from Purple Coneflower

Monarchs on Boneset

Common Milkweed

Rattlesnake Masters
Thimbleweed. Reminds me of Grandmommy's many thimbles.

View down the drive; Slender Mountain Mint in front of Purple Coneflowers;
St. John's Wort just beginning to bloom (yellow) next to bluebird box
Closeup of Devil's Walking Stick. I know how it got its name!
Trumpet vine against Wild Quinine.
On Maggie's wedding day, she wove the Wild Quinine into her hair. 
Bumblebee on Bee Balm. Yes, it is the bees' balm!

The garden is just steps from our front door.

Here's how the garden came to be: Daughter Maggie, who is Farm Dover's head beekeeper, Ed and I had talked about wanting a bee garden for as long as we have had beehives. We wanted to plant a wide variety of native flowers and grasses from which the bees could find a ready source of pollen. Our intent was to design a flower-rich habitat that would have a concentration of blossoms from early spring to late fall, ensuring that our bees would have a constant source of food. As it turns out, what is good for the bees is good for the butterflies – as they also flock to the garden.

We got serious about our garden planning in spring of 2016 and engaged Margaret Shea of Dropseed Native Plant Nursery to help us plan and plant the garden. Ed and I prepared the ground, adding newspaper and mulch to an area that adjoined our front field of native grasses and wildflowers. Our idea was to have it flow seamlessly into the field.

Note to my readers: No matter what size yard you have, it is big enough for a native garden. Even a few plants in a ceramic pot can attract a surprisingly large number of pollinators.

Margaret Shea helped us design the garden.
She provided all the plants from her native nursery in Goshen, KY.
Dropseed Nursery's Elizabeth planted each flower/grass according to the plan.

The tiny native plants needed some time to take hold. And they looked so pathetic, I didn't want you to see it yet.

We watered and weeded the garden last summer and slowly it began to grow, and grow. This summer, there is barely any room to move between the plants. In fact they are so big, I'm already planning to move some of them to other smaller bee gardens that we have started in and around the yard.

Sure enough, the bees and other pollinators love hanging out in the garden. From honey bees to bumblebees to sweat bees, they happily buzz around from flower to flower. I try not to bother them; and they don't seem all that interested in me.

The garden changes almost daily. The Foxglove Beardtongue and Eastern Bluestar have come and gone; the Boneset and Bee Balm are bursting with blossoms. The Ironweed and Joe-Pye Weed are reaching skyward, but not yet blooming.

I love to spend time in the garden – especially early in the morning, or just before the sun slips down – inspecting each blossom, prying out a weed or two, watching the bees and butterflies come and go. I'm working hard on identifying the plants in the garden and learning their scientific names.

Here's what we planted:

St. John's-wort, Hypericum prolificum
Devil's Walking Stick, Aralia spinosa
Little Bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium 
Prairie Dropseed, Sporobolus heterolepis
Big Bluestem, Andropogon gerardii
Switchgrass, Panicum virgatum
Cut-leaf Prairie Dock, Silphium pinnatifidum
Ironweed, Veronia gigantea
Joe-Pye Weed, Eupatorium fistulosum 
Stiff Goldenrod, Solidago rigida
New England Aster, Aster novae-angliae
Eastern Bluestar, Amsonia tabernaemontana
Foxglove Beardtongue, Penstemon digitalis
Maryland Goldenaster, Chrysopsis mariana
Slender Mountain Mint, Pycnanthemum tenuifolium 
Gray Goldenrod, Solidago nemoralis 
Thimbleweed, Anemone virginica
Rough Goldenrod, Solidago rugosa 
Culver's Root, Veronicastrum virginicum 
Wild Quinine, Parthenium integrifolium 
Smooth Blue Aster, Aster laevis 
False Blue Indigo, Baptisia australis
Rattlesnake Master, Eryngium yuccifolium
Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea
Orange Coneflower, Rudbeckia fulgida
Bee Balm, Monarda fistulosa
Boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum
Lanceleaf coreopsis, Coreopsis lanceolata
Common Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca
Swamp Milkweed, Aclepias Incarnata
Trumpet Vine, Campsis radicans

Would love to show it to you in person. You know where to find me...

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