Thursday, April 14, 2016

BEES IN URBAN SETTINGS



After reading a Gordon Frankie (University of California, Berkeley) article on bees in urban settings, I drove down to one of our city's industrial areas. Once a booming manufacturing area, it has gone through some rough times, and now there are many abandoned shops and plenty of empty parking lots and alley-ways.

The above photo shows part of a crumbling, abandoned building, yet wherever a seed found its way into a crack in the pavement, it began to grow some hardy wild plant--many with flowers and seeds. There are even trees and shrubs--all planted by Mother Nature. Bees and other insects buzzed around in the hot sun. Every city has places like this, and with a plan in place could become a habitat for pollinators. Cities with their miles of concrete and sun reflecting off buildings are warmer than open areas and could extend the growing season to accommodate our native bees. Vacant land could become useful again as bee-loving gardens spread, adding beauty to the purpose of pollination.

Some of these abandoned areas are large and could create oases of lush growth that would nurture, not only native bees, but many varieties of birds and butterflies. Native wildflowers, once established, do not need regular watering. They do best without fertilizer.

Seed packets, many labeled specifically for your area, are readily available in mixes that sometimes include annuals to beef up the mix until perennials begin to bloom


TheMoonflowerVine.com

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

WALLY WAITS FOR SPRINGTIME

For years, Wally has been guarding the garden--specifically the rock wall. Wally wears his fur in a decorative braid and notice Wally's tie. Dotted with tiny blue polka dots, the tie is just one of many. He is a fashionable fellow. His goal is to keep out munchers while harmonizing with the colors in the springtime garden. He selected blue dots to bring out flowering brunnera's colors, but not to compete with the tiny, intensely blue flowers suffused with raspberry pink.

Soon after Wally took up his post at the wall, a strong wind brought plummeting temperatures, then rain and snow. It brought all flowering to a standstill. Look at the ground surrounding Wally--mostly barren. When snow finally quit, we had a total of six inches on the ground, but Wally didn't complain even when he got pelted--his tie askew from the strong wind. He is the most dependable of all my garden guards and takes his job seriously. When mischievous chipmunks knock him over, I go out to lend a hand in getting him upright again. And unlike other rabbits, he never nibbles the plants.

Soon, I know, the sun will come out to warm little Wally, but until then, I'll tend to his needs and check the shops for appropriate neckwear, as Wally doesn't drive.