I am a blessed Hedge Witch ....
I own my property outside of town limits and am happily growing a meadow out front melding into a jungle in back.My minions are many and I love them all.
However growing a garden / refuge for butterflies and bees is not hard nor does it require a large area .All you really need is a patch of dirt and a bit of primary knowledge.
Every garden needs pollinators butterflies and bees are among the best.When visiting your garden these dears are looking for 2 things.....
Nectar - nectar is loaded with sugars and it’s a bee’s main source of energy.
Pollen - pollen provides the balanced diet of proteins and fats.
Ok now I know your thinking that's easy but not so much any more .First do your research and find out what your best native plants are to use.
Native plants are always the best choice and can be mixed in with other more attractive plants.
A great naive plant that grows pretty much nation wide is Asclepsia ,commonly known as Butterfly weed.A member of the " Milk Weed " family this baby is a tough showy perennial that my babies cant get enough of .If you arnt going to plant but one native make it this one!
As for those other showier plants .Most popular flower varieties on the market today
are hybridized for features that are valued by the gardener.
These things include disease resistance, flower size ,
color,bigger blooms and longer bloom times.
Great for us ,or so you think at first glance....unfortunately hybridization has reduced the
production of nectar and pollen .It even goes so far as to
sometimes result in a plant that's completely sterile and useless
to bees and other pollinators.
In this matter always choose heirloom varieties,the older the better!
My personal garden is filled with heirloom shrubs and perennials .And yes
some of their "mutant brethren " have better habits.But nothing beats
them for aroma ,stamina and invoking generations of nostalgia!If your not as
fortunate as me.
A few easy and inexpensive ways to get these are .....
One is ask all of the oldest people you know for a few starts from
theirs, believe me old gardeners love to share and any you get
will be sure to come with a history.
Another is start by seed ,Google heirloom seeds
jump in lol piss off Monsanto and join the growing number us that grow non patented plants ;)
Together with native plants, these lovlies will make your garden attractive
to both pollinators and people.
I have found that minions of both varieties adore my Buddleia aka Butterfly Bush and will battle over the heirloom Zinnias.
In less than a week they strip the tasty leaves bare and with stomachs full retire to their Chrysalis until they emerge as Butterflies .Here's a shot of mine so you know what they look like .
Now that you know what plants you need and like , back to research lol.
Such as What conditions do they thrive in sun or shade and how much water do they require?
Check the height so tall goes to the back or if your garden is round in the middle.
Annuals that you replace every year should
be in front so as not to disturb the perennials roots each year when you have to replant.
Make sure to provide a range of plants that will offer a succession of brightly colored flowers
throughout the whole growing season.Bright colors in a sheltered sunny spot are what our dears desire.A bit of research and a drop of love insures shelter and a constant meal through out the season.
Speaking of shelter Butterfly boxes and Bee Skeps are really nice additions .
They are attractive as yard art and give your babies shelter from the elements.
Butterfly boxes have slots the ideal size for keeping birds out while giving butterflies protection
from the wind and weather.
If your going for bees bear in mind .....
The bee friendly border needs to be in full sun but also sheltered from the wind. Bees hate being blown around when trying to land on flowers and prefer the sun rather than the shade.
The relationship between beekeeping and herb gardens is centuries old.
Bees (honey bees) were not indigenous to North America and the native Americans, never having seen them,
called them "English flies." The first record of bee importation is in 1638, but by the end of the 17th
century most kitchen gardens included several skeps (hand woven grass domes)to provide honey for the household .
Skeps are cool and certainly a pice of history .However the colonials were killing the bees at the end of each season to harvest honey
So best to leave them as yard art and if you want honey invest in a well built modern bee box.
Many herbs have a special attraction for bees and, since the insects pollinate the plants, the two work in unison.
Lemon balm (its name is derived from the Greek word for “bee”) has long been a neighbor of the bee skep.
Early beekeepers rubbed the insides of their skeps with it to attract bees. Bee Balms' real name "Melissa Officinalis" has its root in Latin....melli being Latin for honey.Although my Bees may not know their Latin they thrive on the many patches of Bee Balm planted through out my realm.
Bee keeping is not all about a wooden box and positioning it for bees to begin producing honey for you.
It takes time and research or you've at best wasted your time and at worse harmed the bees.
So read up or let them feed and go find their own home.And you can opt for a groovy rustic skep to decorate your realm! lol
I hope you've enjoyed the read and the peek at my beauties :)
Here are a few things that are a must when creating a garden of this kind
1 This should be obvious but I'm saying it anyway. Never use pesticides. Most pesticides are not selective. You are killing off the beneficial bugs along with the pests.
2 Remember to include some local native plants. Research suggests native plants are four times more attractive to native bees than exotic flowers. They are also usually well adapted to your growing conditions and can thrive with minimum attention.
3 Chose several colors of flowers. Bees have good color vision to help them find flowers and the nectar and pollen they offer. Flower colors that particularly attract bees are blue, purple, violet, white, and yellow.Butterflies (and Hummingbirds) go crazy for red.
4 Plant flowers in clumps. Flowers clustered into clumps of one species will attract more pollinators than individual plants scattered through the habitat patch. Where space allows, make the clumps four feet or more in diameter.Groups of 3 and 5 look great. Odd numbers form irregular patches giving the garden a naturalized look.
5 Include flowers of different shapes. There are four thousand different species of bees in North America, and they are all different sizes, have different tongue lengths, and will feed on different shaped flowers. Providing a range of flower shapes means more bees can benefit.
6 Have a diversity of plants flowering all season. Most bee species are generalists, feeding on a range of plants through their life cycle. By having several plant species flowering at once, and a sequence of plants flowering through spring, summer, and fall, you can support a range of bee species that fly at different times of the season.
7 Plant where they want to visit. Bees and butterflies both favor sunny spots over shade and need some shelter from strong winds.
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