Have you seen the new TED Talk by Marla Spivak, University of Minnesota professor of entomology and 2010 MacArthur Fellow? She talks about the decline in honey bee populations, monoculture, pesticides (including neonicitoids) and how important it is to plant bee-friendly flowers.
Posts Tagged ‘Flowers’
Consider Replacing Part or All of Your Front Lawn with a Pollinator-Friendly Garden
Lush, wide, green and rolling: In America, we love our lawns. We like to sprawl out on the grass for a picnic, gather on the neighbor’s lawn for a game of touch football, and set up our folding chairs and tiki-torches in the backyard green for summer barbeques. I like doing these things too, and I have a small lawn of my own in Vermont. But it’s important to remember that lawns, from an environmental perspective, provide little support for the ecosystem. In fact the tremendous amount of water, fossil fuel, fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides used to maintain most suburban lawns makes our green-fixation downright irresponsible. And although green areas do reduce heat in cities, tightly cropped lawns do little to create habitat and provide food for birds, bees and the many other creatures sharing our world. Read the rest of this entry →
Looking for a great, inspirational gift for the holiday season- one that keeps on giving, with the natural world and environment in mind? It’s easy to inspire a new gardener or please a more experienced green-thumb without spending a bundle over the holidays. A present of seed and/or seed starting kits, particularly for youngsters, is truly a gift that keeps on giving. Gardening is a healthy and environmentally friendly skill to encourage – a hobby that will last a lifetime, and one that can help support other living creatures, particularly pollinators like honeybees…
My passion for gardening developed in early childhood. It all started with a milk carton filled with soil and a few flower seeds. Easy to start seeds, such as sunflower, marigold and zinnia, make great gifts for gardening novices and kids during the winter holidays. When giving seeds to children, I always like to stick them inside a book, like ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ or ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, to spark imagination and curiosity.
For gardening cooks, herb seeds, (particularly organic basil, parsley, sage, mint and coriander), are always appreciated both in the kitchen and in the vegetable garden, where they attract beneficial insects including honey bees. And while we are on the subject of vegetable gardens, organically grown cucumber, pumpkin, squash, gourd and water-mellon seed make great gifts for friends with victory gardens, as these plants provide ample food for bees and humans alike. Other bee favorites, including the appropriately named North American native bee balm (Monarda), coneflower (Echinacea), black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia) and cat mint (Nepeta), make great flower garden gifts for anyone with a little outdoor space.
For more experienced flower gardeners, heirloom flower seeds are always a good choice – there are many interesting new varieties of biennials available every year, including bee favorites like foxglove (Digitalis), and hollycock (Alcea). If the choices seem daunting, simply request a catalogue from a good company, and enclose a gift certificate.
Great online sources for seed include; Renee’s Garden, Florabunda Seeds and High Mowing Organic Seeds. Johnny’s Seeds also has a great selection of seeds and an excellent selection of seed starting supplies, including biodegradable starter pots and kits.
Give the gift of life this holiday season – give seeds and encourage gardening in support of honeybees.
As the trees finally shed their leaves and our thoughts turn to wintery pleasures and indoor activities, it’s easy to forget about the honey bee. After all, our busy little friends are hibernating out of sight and mind at this time of year. But before the ground freezes, and even over winter, there are still some favors we can do for these important pollinators to support them in their environment when they emerge next year.
In the early part of the growing season, flowers and their nectar are relatively scarce – this is also true in very late summer and fall. Nature provides bees with food in their environment of course, but in many areas, native plants have been reduced or eliminated as humans have encroached upon and altered natural habitats. Some introduced and hybridized plants do provide food for bees, but unfortunately, many gardeners favor double-flowered, exotic plants that are more difficult for pollinators to access. Most wild, indigenous plants have open, easy-access flowers, making them more attractive and desirable to honey bees.
So how do you choose shrubs to support bees and integrate these plants into your landscape? Learning a little bit about the plants native to your region is a good place to start, and education can take place at any time of the year. There are a number of good books and field guides written on the subject of native, North American plants. Many of these titles are available in local libraries and universities. Some of the best guide books include both photos and detailed information about the required growing conditions of native plants, and their hardiness ranges. William Cullina’s beautiful book, Native Trees, Shrubs and Vines, is an excellent resource for gardeners.
In addition, many states have helpful native plant societies. Try Googling your state name followed by the phrase “Wildflower Society” or “Native Plant Society”. These sites will often list plants, including shrubs, native to your area. When visiting nurseries and garden centers, ask about native plants. The more we ask retailers for native plants by name and buy them, the more likely they will be to continue ordering them and keeping them on hand. All of these actions will help support the honey bee, and the environment as a whole.
Thank you Häagen-Dazs for the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at UC Davis, which is scheduled to open on September 11th. The Haven will not only serve as a research and pollinating facility but as a tool to raise awareness about the plight of honey bees. As the Sacramento Bee has reported, “America is losing its honey bees at an alarming rate for unknown reasons. Last winter, an estimated 33.8 percent of commercial hives died out.”
In addition to honey bees, other bee species are benefiting. It’s been reported that over 55 types of bees are already calling the Haven home including fuzzy bumble bees, metallic sweat bees, wood-dwelling carpenter bees and solitary mason bees. Read the rest of this entry →
Graceful, elegant and generous are but a few of the words that spring to mind when describing Doublefile Viburnum, (V. plicatum var. tomentosum); one of the most delightful species in my absolute favorite genus of woody plants. Although this shrub wears no perfume in springtime, she more than makes up for her lack of fragrance with four-season beauty and an easy-to-please manner Read the rest of this entry →
Penstemon, Rudbeckia and Veronica: An Easy, Breezy, Flowering Combination for Mid-Summer Meadow Gardens…
Bees buzzing in the garden, sun-tea brewing on the terrace, and books piled high beside the hammock; sweet summertime is here at last. I love waking up to early morning sunshine playing upon the warm, summery colors in my garden. Read the rest of this entry →
What is it about that title?
Hmmmm…….. ED Erectile dysfunction, RLS restless leg syndrome, ADD Attention deficit disorder.
One thing I have noticed about human nature is that we need to identify, label and vilify the “disorder” so that we can blame someone else, create a patented wonder drug complete with research funding to solve the problem, and of course get bailout funding.
Take for example, the other day I’m in Wal-mart sitting on a bench waiting for my lovely wife. I can hear on the pre-recorded background noise coming from the pharmacy that “dry mouth is a treatable condition”. I was shocked to hear the announcer say that “it might be treatable by sipping water or using [their product].” Go figure! Read the rest of this entry →
Container Gardening with Herbs and Edible Flowers
It looks like spring has sprung at last – the signs are popping up everywhere. Farmer’s markets and garden centers are bursting with herbs and flowers, veggie seedlings and hanging baskets. The growing season has arrived in many parts of the country, and even in the colder regions, pansies are showing up in window boxes and front stoops everywhere. Now is the time to think about decorating your entryway, back porch, patio or balcony with living things. Adding a little color and flavor to your world with homegrown herbs and flowers can bring so much pleasure to your daily routine, and even the smallest urban window box can help support important pollinators – including our good friend the honeybee. Read the rest of this entry →
Late fall is still shrub-planting season in much of North America. And throughout the month of November, many garden centers are running clearance sales to reduce stock before winter. If you live in USDA zone 5 or warmer, the ground in your area will likely remain workable at least through Thanksgiving. Now is a great time to take advantage of discounted prices on native, flowering shrubs that will support honey bees in the coming year. Read the rest of this entry →