Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox

Friday, October 3, 2014

I appreciate the honeybees that visit my garden

Isn't she beautiful!

All the honeybees we see foraging for nectar and pollen are female and unless we keep hives we'll probably never see a male bee.
The worker honeybees' jobs include: caring for larvae (baby bees), making wax, building honeycomb, cleaning up the hive, storing pollen, cooling the hive, making honey, guarding the hive and collecting pollen and nectar. They are busy little creatures and I feel fortunate that they stayed still long enough for me to snap a few photos!

I appreciate that they pollinate flowers as they forage for pollen and nectar. I also have a fine appreciation for their honey making abilities! 
Which brings me around to yesterday morning when I noticed this pink sign in a neighboring yard.

Of course I called! 

I stopped by last night to meet Jodi the beekeeper and her bees. What a delightful surprise! She and her husband Matt are native plant gardeners! They're removing invasives! They've built a rain garden to solve their water drainage problems! They have hives!

Hillwood is lucky to have them! I am lucky that they live around the corner from me.
Of course, you all know that my beloved Bumbles and other native bees are first and foremost in my heart, but, a gardener has to get honey and what could be better than honey made by bees that might have visited my garden!

Now that's sweet!
Have a honey of a weekend...

It's your garden, plant what ever you want and please, remember to never, ever, ever, ever, use pesticides. I mean never!

In case you want to read earlier pollinator posts~

Now Is The Time To Bee-gin Thinking About Bees ( here)
This Is The Place To Bee ( here)
If You Could Plant Only One Plant In Your Garden~Don't (here)
Must Bee The Season of The Witch (here)
Go Bare In Your Garden (here)
We can't All Be Pretty Pollinators (here)
Eye, Eye Skipper, Big Eyed Pollinators (here)
What's In Your Garden (here)
Royalty In The Garden~Monarch Butterfly (here)
Carpenter Bees (here)
Got Wildflowers?(here)
It's Spring and A Gardener's Thoughts Are On Pollinators (here)
The Wildflower and The Bee (here)
A Few Good Reasons To Plant Milkweek (here)
Got Shade? You Can Have Pollinators ( (here)
A Pollinator friendly Shrub (here)
Big Goings On at C and L (here)
Where Have All My Pollinators Gone (here)

Other bee posts you might want to read~

Count Yourself Lucky To Have Hoverflies ( here)
Bumblebee Hotel (here)
Still Taking Care Of Bzzness (here)
My Sweet Embraceable You (here)

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wildflower Wednesday: Some Plants Like to Challenge the Boundaries!

At Clay and Limestone we call several of them good friends.

Physostegia virginiana, aka, False dragonhead is a good friend of my garden. It's one of the rough and tumble wildflowers that makes gardening on my shallow, often dry garden soil worth the effort!

It's an enthusiastic grower, but, I decided years ago that a lovely lilac river of spiky flowers that attracts bumbles, small bees, skippers and hummers was worth having to pull out a few errant plants. (go here for more on this plant)
This mint can get a root hold in your moist, rich garden soil
Successful colonizers like False dragonhead do create work for gardeners. I've even heard several gardenblogging friends say they've banned them from their gardens! My dear friends, it's your garden plant what ever you want, but, please, don't call them invasive! They're colonizers! They're thug. They're highly competitive, but, they are not invasive species. Let's not scare off gardeners who may be considering planting more natives!
the first flowers open from the bottom
As many of you may know, my mostly native garden has its fair share of colonizers. I let them duke it out all summer and I am never disappointed by the fall show!

I do have to step into the fray occasionally to stop some of the more highly competitive plants like the  Solidagos from taking over. Goldenrods are the king of colonizing wildflowers, some more than others! Don't let that stop you from adding them to your garden, they are quite possibly the best wildflowers for critters and there are many delightful cultivars that are NOT thugs!
A Locust borer stops by for a snack
Goldenrods have great wildlife value. Native bees rely heavily on Goldenrods for both pollen and nectar to provide food for the winter brood's survival. Migrating butterflies stop by for the nectar to help them on their long flight and the seeds are needed by chickadees, finches and pine siskins during the winter. Goldenrods are also important attractors of beneficial insects like soldier beetles, hoverflies and pirate beetles.

We need those predators in our organic gardens....so plant goldenrods! Trust me, there's a perfect one for your garden!
This is the famous Frostweed in flower. It's a favorite of bumbles.
Verbesina virginica is another assertive native plant! Seedlings have germinated far from the parent plants thanks to wind and birds! That doesn't mean I would ban it from the garden, but, I am ruthless about removing seedlings of this biennial!
Buckeye butterfly visiting Verbesina
Verbesina is another good wildlife value plant. Bumbles, carpenter bees, beetles, butterflies and moths are frequent visitors. It's also the host plant for the caterpillars of the Silvery Checkerspot butterfly.

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae is another healthy colonizer, for which I am very grateful! After a long summer of Black-eyed Susan's I am ready for a big show!
New England aster with Helianthus salicifolius 'First Light'
A big lavender show is exactly what I have...This ex-aster spreads by seed, but this gardener is the one who has transplanted it to a dozen spots in my small sunny border! It's the perfect purple! It looks beautiful from across the garden and it is the perfect partner for one of my favorite late summer blooming asteraceas, Helianthus salicifolius 'First Light'.

You'lllove this flower massed in the garden
The same applies to this fantastic mist flower! If you have the space and temperament to let this plant go, please do. Conoclinium coelestinum is a plant that looks its best when allowed to naturalize. Cut it back in mid summer to keep it looking bushy and beautiful, and then let it do its beautiful thing. (go here for more on this wildflower)
Butterflies, skippers and bees are drawn to the nectar-rich flowers, while birds eat the seeds. If you want more, and once you see it massed you will, it's easily propagated from seeds or divisions. It can spread quickly if happy, but is pulled out just as easily. It grows in any soil except extremely dry. If you want easy care this is a great wildflower.
Thanks so much for stopping by to help me celebrate a few of my favorite boundary challenging native wildflowers! I've used words like colonizing, aggressive, thuggish, assertive, highly competitive, naturalizing, rhizome spread, and rough and tumble to describe them. But, don't let that scare you, colonizing plants make good garden friends.

Trust me, I'm a gardener!

Welcome to Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesday celebration. WW is about sharing and celebrating wildflowers from all over this great big, beautiful world. Join us on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Remember, it doesn't matter if they are in bloom or not, and, it doesn't matter if we all share the same plants. It's all about celebrating wildflowers. Please leave a comment when you add your url to Mr Linky.

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.


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