A Good Time For Planning: Flowers For Pollinators I
Snow came down two days ago accumulating just three inches. Today the garden is still covered with snow and the temperature dropped down to just above 10°F. It’s a perfect winter day for bird watching through the patio door. Since the ground is covered with snow and the sources of water around here have turned to ice, they congregate around our feeders and heated birdbaths. It’s also a good day to start planning for the next growing season.
The plant catalogs have been piling up. I have picked out a couple of new vegetables I want to try and am now looking for flowers that bees and butterflies will like. A new Cosmos ‘Cupcake’ looks very tempting. I have already put 200 crocus in this autumn. If they haven’t all been dug up by the squirrels and chipmunks they should blossom when spring arrives. Any new plants I choose I make sure will benefit all pollinators, not just honeybees. If I have to pick and choose however, flowers for the bees will come first.
Here are some plants that work for our pollinator garden and I start with flowers:
These are just some of the flowers I managed to photograph with honeybees on them. There are many more flowers that they like- crocus, snowdrop, Black-eyed Susan. Next post will be on herbs and vegetables that I allow to flower, both as a pollinators food source and as the next season’s seeds.
Summer will be here in two weeks and I can feel the heat in the air already. One day the temperature was hovering below 50º F and I had to wear a sweatshirt in the garden. The plants just stalled in their growth. The next day it hit 80º F and even wearing just a t-shirt it was too hot, but plants were shooting up all over the place. As much as there is an endless list of things to do at this time of year and never enough hours in the day, I still love this time of year the most. Life has renewed itself in the garden. There are some disappointments of course here and there. The Wisteria has only a few flowers, not a lovely waterfall of flowers as it did in years past. Clematis Montana and Lilac, both the common one and ‘Miss Kim’ blossomed less than usual. The Hydrangea has taken its time to sprout, coming up from the base so I don’t expect any flowers this year and I don’t see any new buds on the old branches yet either. They’re probably still struggling to shrug of winter.
Even with less flowers so far this year there’s still plenty of color and scent in the garden. The Columbine has never ceased to amaze me. This year there are more and more new colors and forms that I know I didn’t plant. Since I let birds and bees do the pollination, it’s always a surprise. It’s also a good year for irises.
Watering the vegetables a in the morning is a lovely time to be in the garden, with lovely scent wafting in the air and birds singing. This is the time of year that no matter how late I get home, I make it a point to go out into the garden and breath in the perfumed air while listening to the crickets and peepers performing their nocturne.
The bulb boys are first in spring. Behind them, the rise of the rhizomes bringing on the bearded Iris. If you calculate correctly, you will have flowers blooming in the garden all season long from spring to frost. Most of our flowers from bulbs are already gone. What we have now are the Bearded Irises, Lilac, Clematis Montana and Columbines.
Princess Beatrice (Iris pallida), this lavender blue Iris came with the house, a lot of them. I had separated and replanted them after a few years, creating another row by the pool fence. That may have been a mistake. We have a tough time sitting on the patio or pool deck when they are in full bloom. Their fragrance is too strong. This year, luckily, the row by the garage walkway bloomed first. The ones by the pool fence are just budding.
I love their blade-like leaves, especially in the morning when they are graced with dew. The dewdrops gather like a string of diamonds along the edge of the leaves and glisten in the sunlight. They are also drought tolerant. The row next to the garage is partially under the roof so they hardly get any rain. I water them once in a while when it’s really hot and dry, and they are thriving. Most of them bloom once per season but I have one that re-blooms in the fall, Lenora Pearl. We had a freak snow storm in October last year but this re-bloomer weathered that too. My task now is to search for more varieties of the them.