Our Gardens Can All Bee Better
|Helen's Haven supporting pollinators and bees with habitat friendly practices|
|Helen (isn't she adorable!) feeding her chickens|
|Wasp taking a break on one of the many pollinator friendly plants in Helen's Haven|
Gardens on this inaugural tour all shared a common theme, making a difference in their community with gardens that support life.
|A street view of Helen's Haven|
Growing an organic garden bids native pollinators such as squash bees and bumble bees to visit blooms that will produce delicious vegetables and fruit. Did you know that tomatoes are more productive when pollinated by bumblebees? Or that orchard bees are more effective pollinators of fruit trees than the European honeybees? Most native pollinators are attracted specifically to native plants; however, planting native plants with your fruits and vegetables will help native pollinators work throughout your entire garden.
|Edible garden in front yard (notice the solar panels too!)|
|eye-catching design with conifers|
If you love conifers, then this landscape is pure inspiration. Packed with a wide variety of evergreens and maples, this garden is a haven for birds. Both migrating and year-round residence find shelter, food and water in this habitat. Two amazing water features meander through the back yard attracting wildlife with its shallow, running water. The stone work and deliberate placement of trees and shrubs really made this garden exceptional.
The texture of the diverse selection of conifers and range of greens provide depth and lushness to the grounds. Seating areas are scattered throughout, allowing visitors to enjoy this birding paradise.The six different maple species, 11 species of pine and 6 species of dogwood support hundreds of different caterpillars. These caterpillars are food for birds, especially during nesting season.
|mimicking nature in an artistic design|
When we visited this next garden, I couldn't help but think the owners had read Lawn Gone written by my friend Pam over at Digging. This garden had no lawn in the front or back yard. Instead, the space is packed full of trees, shrubs, perennials and ground covers that supports local wildlife. It is an excellent example of how we need to move away from the mindset that lawns make a garden. Lots of transitional areas create interest to the space. Massing plants together provide places for the eyes to rest in this design concept.
|swath of ostrich ferns allowed to colonize|
|some of the fabulous garden art by local artisans|
This garden also has artistic pieces incorporated in the landscape. Adding creative elements to a garden can really enhance a space. If done right, plant material can provide a backdrop to showcase the art, or the art can help exhibit foliage and blooms. It is also a nice way to provide seasonal interest.
Sadly, we didn't get to all the gardens on the tour. We took our time in each of the gardens we did visit and stopped for lunch along the way. What I loved about this tour is that all the gardens were focused on being wildlife friendly. These gardens aren't highly manicured; they are habitat gardens, created by people who have a passion to bee better stewards of the environment. Of course everyone had pulled weeds and put down fresh mulch (best way to give your plants the wow factor) but these gardens were alive with wildlife visitors.
Some Tips to Bee Better in Your Garden
Bee Pollinator Friendly
Gardens that support pollinators should include:
-plants that are host and nectar sources for a variety of pollinating insects including bees and wasps, butterflies and moths, flies, beetles
-provide at least one water source
-be situated in sunny areas that include some wind breaks
-create large swaths of native and non-invasive plants that provide continuous bloom throughout the growing season
-eliminate the use of pesticides
"A waterwise design is always a good idea, but right now in the absence of rain, it’s embraceable" ~Helen Yoest, author Gardening with Confidence
-Group plants with similar needs together. There are 3 zones in a water wise garden: oasis, transitional, and xeric. The oasis zone is closest to water source, which could be drain spouts, rain barrel, garden hose or natural water source. The transitional zone is half way between your home and end of your garden. This zone should include plants that are drought tolerant, only requiring supplemental water in extreme conditions. Finally, the xeric zone is at the perimeter of your garden and should be planted with drought resistant plants.
-Include a rain gauge in your garden to monitor your local rainfall. Only water plants if absolutely necessary. Established plants only require an inch of water a week. Containers may need to be watered daily during the hottest months using harvested rain water.
-Mulching your garden with organic matter helps retain moisture and is the best defense in drought conditions.