Posts Tagged ‘Native Plants’

Go a Little Less Green for the Environment

Consider Replacing Part or All of Your Front Lawn with a Pollinator-Friendly Garden

Photo by Michaela, The Gardener's Eden.

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 →


15

02 2011

On Winter and Your Garden

Summersweet, (Clethra alnifolia 'Ruby Spice'), is a native shrub, providing easily accessed, late-season pollen for the honey bee. ⓒ 2010 Michaela at TGE

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.


11

11 2010

Penstemon, Rudbeckia and Veronica: An Easy, Breezy, Flowering Combination for Mid-Summer Meadow Gardens…

A sunny, summertime entry garden at Ferncliff – Design and Photo ⓒ Michaela at TGE

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 →


01

07 2010

Food for your honeybees and native bees

Dwarf witch-alder, (Fothergilla gardenii), far right, covered with white flowers in early spring. Photo by Michaela, The Gardener's Eden

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 →


10

11 2009