Don’t Worry….”Bee” Happy

Don’t Worry….”Bee” Happy

CELEBRATE NATIONAL POLLINATOR WEEK THIS JUNE 17TH– 23RD, 2019

After what seems like months…the sun came out the other day and I found an energy emerging that had been buried in the gloom.  I wandered into the yard and felt the warmth and beautiful glow of an old friend.   

    I saw a couple of butterflies lighting on flowers in my wildflower garden and on a rose under the bedroom window…then as I watch them, a bird flew into the yard and landed on a bush, then moved to the tree and back down to some low growing geraniums.  As I stood there absorbing the feel of my bare feet in the dew covered grass, I heard a soft hum and looked around the garden only to discover that bees were at play… going from flower to flower, from geranium blossoms to roses.  There was a time when I would have run from the bees, not wanting to get stung.  But instead, I have learned that they are just going about their business and we can and should share our garden.  Their buzz…or hum, as I call it, is music in the garden as much as the birds singing.  Together they harmonize quite nicely and it feels comforting as I enjoy my morning in the garden. 

It made me wonder at the greater significance of these visitors, so I began a little research on the web.  Oddly enough…that’s when I discovered that there is an upcoming week set aside to celebrate our little helpers, but I learned a few other interesting facts to ponder.  These pollinators…or the few I recognize, help keep our crops producing, thereby keeping our planet fed.   Some of the other pollinators are Hummingbirds, Flies, Lemurs, Honey Possums, Lizards, Beetles (lady bugs J), Moths, and Bats.  According to the US Fish & Wildlife Service, these hard-working animals help pollinate over 75% of our flowering plants, and nearly 75% of our crops.  Often we are oblivious as they go about their work, yet without them, wildlife would have fewer nutritious berries and seeds, and we would miss many fruits, vegies and nuts, like blueberries, squash and almonds, PLUS Chocolate and Coffee!   

I also discovered the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture sites that during the past 30+ years, our nation’s pollinator populations have suffered serious losses due to invasive pests and diseases, exposure to pesticides and chemicals, and loss of habitat.  One quote from this article says “Without pollinators, we don’t eat—it’s simple as that.”   I’d say that’s pretty alarming!

I found some ways we can all help the situation from the Natural Resources Conservation Service listed below. 

Here is a list of seven ways to make your garden a haven for native pollinators:                           

  • Use pollinator-friendly plants in your landscape.
  • Add a mixture of plants for spring, summer and fall with different colors, shapes, and scents to attract a wide variety of pollinators.  Adding plants to containers on a patio or in window boxes can help!
  • Reduce or eliminate pesticide use in your landscape. Always use pesticides sparingly if possible and responsibly.
  • Accept some plant damage on plants meant to provide habitat for butterfly and moth larvae.
  • Provide clean water for pollinators with a shallow dish, or birdbath using half-submerged stones for perches.
  • Leave dead tree trunks, in your landscape for wood-nesting bees and beetles.
  • Support land conservation in your community by helping to create and maintain community gardens and green spaces to ensure that pollinators have adequate habitat.

It was enlightening to learn more about the roll these visitors to my garden play in the bigger picture pollination makes to our food chain.  Most of the time I just enjoy them as part of the sensory experience…their song, their beauty, or flight, not giving a deeper thought to their existence, but this adventure opened my eyes and helped me to more appreciate my nature buddies.  I hope it encourages you to learn more about the plight of our pollinators and share it with your kids and grand kids, or fellow gardeners.

Till next time…

                                                                        Jackie Jesch

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“The Power of a First Impression”

When friends and family come to visit, does your landscape or garden offer a welcoming smile…an embracing hug on your behalf…or a “keep out” sign? 

I know that might sound a little odd, but the first thing people notice is thefirst-impression-pics-for-article-jpg-5 warmth or appeal of your home garden. It conveys an invitation, or a cold shoulder depending on the appearance, often called “curb appeal” by realtors.

The first impression of your landscape can truly set the mood first-impression-pics-for-articleof your home, whether it’s free-form and flowery, jewel-toned succulents, easy breezy perennials and grasses or cool, comfortable foliage. During our lives we often meet people that are engaging and positive. They leave us with a pleasant feeling. Our gardens can be that kind of ambassador to the outside world.

first-impression-pics-for-article-jpg-3Have you ever taken a walk and were suddenly stopped in your tracks by a beautifully simple landscape that seemed to speak to you. Maybe it was the colors…or the textures…or the soothing grace or symmetry that first-impression-pics-for-article-jpg-2impressed you. Perhaps it was a couple of chairs or some bird feeders…a stone path instead of concrete…a swing on the porch and lattice arbor.

 

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If your landscape has lost its appeal…gotten dull, and unimpressive, you can give it new life…a smile to welcome you home, or to others who pass by. Take a fresh look at what your garden says to the world around you. Sometimes even our aging gardens need a little “face lift”…after all, our environment affects our mood, and it can lift or deflate.

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Landscaping is one of the least costly ways of softening and enhancing your home.  It can also add to its value not just in terms of resale, but the “Home Sweet Home” feeling you can’t put a price on!

 

Planting with Passion

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My personal passion is flowers. I love a cottage garden filled with colorful flowers…roses, and perennials with a wildflower habit. Add some fluffy, flowery borders and even some bulbs like Delphiniums, Hollyhocks, or Foxgloves to the mix and I’d call it heavenly. I throw in some California poppy seeds for a sunset orange that makes my heart skip a beat as they join my eclectic garden of beautiful flowers.

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A flowery landscape can easily get a bit too wild. It will need places for the eye to rest. One option is to add stones, rocks or pebbles creating some areas of separation. Another option is to add a bench or a couple of chairs on some decomposed granite or pea gravel. The third option is to add some plants that are primarily leafy or cool-toned foliage to the mix. It will balance and accentuate the bounty of flowers. It’s best to use these in clumps or waves rather than random “polka-dot” patterns for the best results.

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A flower or cottage garden looks lovely with some added accents, like a bird bath, or arbor. You may want to add a wandering path of flagstone. Your own creativity will lead you as you choose how to accentuate your garden. Let your passion and creativity guide you. Gardening should come from the heart as you discover what plants do well in your garden and new ones to try. It’s nice to plant some that perform all year and some that will bloom in different seasons to add a changing dimension to your landscape.

I like to think of gardening as painting a picture with plants. Composition is important. Close your eyes and envision your landscape as you “paint” your garden. Try not to become too serious about perfection…think of it as play, keep a light heart and plant joyfully. Changing your garden is half the fun. Try out ideas, being open to change as it develops and you won’t lose the passion.

Winter Blooming Aloes

Aloe-ciliaris-hyb
Aloe ciliaris hybrid

Winter is the season when leaves have fallen from the trees… when we clean the rain gutters, and prune back our roses & shrubs. Gardens and landscapes seem a bit lifeless as they wait upon spring. I still love the winter garden. As I prune and rake, I find delight in the plants that are still full of color, either in their foliage, or in persistent blossoms they continue to share.
The Aloe blossoms are like torches of hope and beauty. While we are lighting our fireplaces, wearing our scarves and sweaters and pulling on our boots and beanies,

Aloe ferox
Aloe ferox

Aloes are budding and blooming, each with their unique shape and size, but most with a brilliant orange blossom…a color of energy, fire and warmth.  Aloes can have a variety of foliage color, as well as, varying sizes and shapes making them extremely desirable in the landscape. Their structure and growth habits range from ground

Aloe striata hybrid
Aloe striata hybrid

 

hugging rosettes, to tall and stately trees, and when they bloom; their blossoms are lush with color.  As an added attraction, Hummingbirds love them.
The foliage of the Aloe can range from deep greens to variations of gray or opalescent tones, and from soft grey/green to red or plum-like colors. Some of these colors are unique to certain Aloes, while others are

Aloe rudikoppe
Aloe rudikoppe

affect color change with temperature change or stress from drought.
After years of observing Aloes, I can say they provide a powerful impact to the landscape through both structure, and color.  The uniqueness of their vast and wondrous varieties almost seems endless. The Aloes shown are just a few of your choices. Explore & discover more options on our website with descriptions and photos. This winter, light up your landscape with “Amazing Aloes”.  Come for a visit here at Waterwise Botanicals soon.  We are here for inspiration in the garden.

Aloe vera
Aloe vera