Most people hate weeds, maybe with an exception for Cannabis. I don’t like weeds either but as I turn our little garden patch back to nature, to make it into a sanctuary for other species as well as ourselves, I have to learn to get along with weeds. When I walk through a farmer’s market, I also note that they sell many flowers we usually call weeds. Quite expensively too, for something you would like to get rid of. So, it’s still true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Pollinators love weeds. There is no doubt about it as we try to eliminate them but they continue to proliferate with help from pollinators. Many of these weeds are also edible and have medicinal properties. As I’ve gained more knowledge about them, my perception has changed drastically and I have made room for them in the garden.
Here’s to beautiful weeds…
There are more weeds growing in our garden than what I’ve mentioned above. I’m fascinated by the fact that many of them are edible. I have not tried them all except for wild Daylily and dandelion. I’m also surprised that many of the flowers and herbs in our area are considered weeds someplace else.
Weeds of North America by Richard Dickinson and France Royer
Weeds of the Northeast by Richard H. Uva, Joseph C. Neal and Joseph M. DiTomaso
Edible Wild Plants: Wild Food From Dirt to Plate by John Kallas, PhD.
Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting,and Preparing EdibleWild Plants by Samuel Thayer
Another year just about to end, a new one to start and life will go on. Nothing keeps your perspective on life in check like gardening I believe. I can see the full cycle life, from beginning to end in one season. And, nothing keeps your perspective on society in check like beekeeping. As Marcus Aurelius stated in his Mediations “Thatwhich isn’t good for the beehive, can’t be good for the bees.” I witnessed one of our hives swarming repeatedly, until it was too weak to defend itself from being robbed. By the end of the season it had perished. Divide and conquer seems to work every time, in any group, any society. What else did it teach me? – what isn’t good for society as a whole, can’t be good for an individual.
I don’t mean to be pedantic. I just love to read philosophy and watch nature unfolding for fun…and I learn in the process.
I captured this summer snowflake (Queen Anne’s Lace) below and wanted to share it with you during this holiday season.
Wishing you very happy and healthy holiday season and a productive New Year, 2017. Hope your new year and new season will be even better than the last.
Thank you very much for reading this blog. I will try my best to be more consistent.
The heat and humidity are here. In mid-summer heat I do my garden chores from shade to shade, trying to stay away from the sun. The lovely times in the garden in mid summer are the morning and early evening. The cool of the morning makes the mixed flower scents very pronounced, especially the Garden phlox and jasmine. It’s very soothing. I water the vegetable garden and the potted tropical plants every morning when it’s still cool. Water evaporates less and will dry up in the sunlight soon enough as not to encourage any disease. The sweet scent of Bitter melon fills the vegetable garden air now. The second flush of roses also adds fragrance to the air though not as strong as in early summer when the majority of bushes were filled with flowers. Even when I don’t have to water them, I still go out in the garden every morning just to breathe the scent that no perfumery can duplicate. I do the same in the evening when I get home from work.
I hardly water the flowers in the garden now but they are still doing well in the heat. Most of them are self-sown and I let them grow freely. Once in a while I either move or thin some of them to prevent diseases due to over-crowding. The plants posted below are care free, self-reliant, great for pollinators and dependable in bringing colors to the garden in the heat of summer.
Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is actually an herb. I grow this for the bees but it’s also good for making tea and potpourri as well. I have a few patches of them, two by the vegetable garden entrance that a send out licorice scent every time I brush against them.
This double Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) is a product of open pollination. I’ve never bought any double flower version but I let the seedlings grow and this is the result. Some of them look even more like chrysanthemums with smaller petals.
Many people regard Queen Anne’s lace (Anthriscus sylvestris) as a weed but I love them. When they grow in a row or large clump, they look so beautiful and delicate. They are also great for insects and bees.
This year will be my second year as a beekeeper and hopefully I will do a better job than my freshman year. At this moment I just hope the bees survive this roller coaster winter. I know there are still some bees in the hive since I’ve seen dead bees on fresh snow all the time. I would consider it a small but vital victory if I have a new generation of bees born into and multiplying in our garden, as short as life is for them.
Well, since I can’t do much of anything outside or help the bees in any way I’ll just search through a pile of catalogs for plants that are good for bees that I can add to the garden. It just dawned on me that there are many other ways to provide pollen and nectar for bees than just growing plants I find in catalogs. While cataloging photographs I’ve been taken either in our garden or while on vacation, I’ve found some simple facts that I’ve overlooked regarding plants for bees.
There are water plants that bees love, like Waterlilies (Nymphaea) and Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera).
Letting some weeds flower. Bees forage on weeds such as Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), White Clover (Trifolium repens), Goldenrod (Salidago canadensis) and Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota). Weeds to us but food to them.
Let leafy vegetables flower. Vegetables that we seldom allow to flower because we eat their leaves, like Arugula (Eruca sativa), Broccoli Raab (Brassica rapa), Bok choi (Brassica rapa) and Mizuna (or Japanese greens). Last season I couldn’t pick them fast enough so they flowered and the bees were all over them.
I’ve been letting Goldenrod and Queen Anne’s Lace grow for many years because I like their flowers. I think I’ll have to make friends with the Dandelions. Then add more of a Sedum I just found in a catalog (so far) for fall foraging.
Here are little happy bees on some plants mentioned above; the 1st three are from vacation on the other side of the planet:
I know bees fly for many miles to collect nectar and pollen, but since they’ve entered our lives now, I’m hoping that I provide enough flowering plants for them to be happy closer to home. I wouldn’t insist they just forage in our garden but at least I can encourage them to do so by providing them with flowers they like. I’m not sure the bees are that particular, but I am providing them with wholly organic flowers to work.
Fragrant flowers make up most of our garden. The runners-up are wild and native flowers. Since I started to keep bees, I have been searching for plants that will provide nectar and pollen for them. Surprisingly, a lot of plants and flowers we have in our garden already are suitable for bees. I should have known since we have a lot of Bumblebees, Carpenter bees, Sweat bees and other insects that thrive on nectar.
One of the blogs I’ve been following has posted Favorite English Garden Bee Plants – Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) and provided a list of plants for bees from The Royal Horticultural Society which I find very helpful. I can’t place all plants on their list from across the pond in our garden but I’m going to do my best to add more. Another blogger and beekeeper on the other side of the Atlantic has also posted What’s flowering now: mid August 2012 regarding flowers for bees in late summer. In response to the last line on her blog, here’s what’s still blooming in the garden on this side of the Atlantic, despite the heat, thunder storms and hail. Our bees still have plenty to put in storage for the winter.