Rain, Fog and A Bit of Summer Sun . . .

July 13th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

Summer's Wild Wonder - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Basking in the Late Day Gift of Summer Sunlight on the Terrace – So Far This Season, Sunny Days Have Been Few & Far Between…

Hello, mid July. How did we get here so quickly? It’s been a busy start to summer, with little time for journaling, but I expect things to slow down a bit now that I’ve suspended planting and am back in the studio full-time. Rain and fog continue to soften the landscape, and although beautiful for making photographs, the weather has made this a challenging year for the New England farming community.

I just read that 3″ of rain fell in April and more than 9″ of rain saturated Vermont during the months of both May and June (the Amazon sees an average of 8″ or rainfall per month, read the full story here). No wonder it has been so hard to complete projects and stay on schedule! As difficult as landscaping work has been this year, it’s nothing compared to the plight of local farmers. I tip my hat to vegetable and fruit growers in my community. Working the land for a living and providing organically grown food —especially in a climate with such a short growing season— is truly a courageous life path. I remember well the seasons of water-logged strawberry fields, and the worried expressions worn by my parents, when the fruit rotted faster than we could pick.

Harvest Basket - A Slow Start to Summer Produce - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comHere at Home, Produce has been Very Slow to Ripen in my Tiny Potager, but I am Picking the First Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes and Red Rubin Basil this Week

Winding the Way Through Wildflowers and Fog - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Most Days, I Find Myself Winding My Way to Work through Wildflowers and Fog . . .

Foggy Wildflower Meadow Hop - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com A Rainy Year Means Abundant & Long-Lasting Blossoms in the Meadowy Wildflower Walk . . .

The Dishwasher's Arrangement - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com And Plenty Extra for the Dishwasher’s Weekly Arrangement . . . 

Asclepias tuberosa - Butterflyweed in the Meadow - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Like a Tangerine Dream, Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) Sweetens the Verdant Meadow with Pollen and Nectar for Bees and Butterflies

Valeriana officinalis michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Sweet, Shimmering Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) . . .

Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster' in July - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com And the Soft Whisper of Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’) in Afternoon Sun . . .

John Creech Meets the Gladiators - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Polished Toes and Posies: John Creech Meets the Gladiators (Sedum spurium ‘John Creech’)

Nepeta sibirica 'Souvenir d'Andre Chaudron' - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Nepeta sibirica ‘Souvenir d’André Chaudron’, an Old Favorite from My Mother’s Garden, with Thalictrum pubescens Beyond

Lysmachia clethroides and Rudbeckia hirta Duke it Out in the Entry Garden - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com  An Uninvited and Pushy Garden-Party Crasher, Gooseneck Loosestrife (Lysmachia clethroides) Dukes it out with Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) in the Entry Garden

Veronica spicata 'Sunny Border Blue' in July - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Meanwhile, Veronica spicata ‘Sunny Border Blue’ Plays Nicely with Her Neighbors

Photography & Text ⓒ Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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Native Pollinators: A Close Up Look at The Humble Bumble Bee …

July 7th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Bumble Bee on Veronica spicata ‘Sunny Border Blue’ (Speedwell)

Now that summer is in full-swing, my garden is just buzzing; filled with pollinators of all kinds. And on warm, sunny mornings, the Wildflower Walk literally hums with the sound of bumble bees. This fuzzy, sweet-looking insect is rarely aggressive and only stings when it is threatened with harm. Like honeybees, bumble bees are very important pollinators of our agricultural crops and wild plants. But unlike the naturalized, European honeybee, our North American native bumble bee does not keep substantial quantities of honey in its hive. Because they only store enough food to support the colony for a couple of days, bumble bees must continuously forage when not in hibernation. All bees, including the bumble bee, are extremely sensitive to pesticides —including organic insecticides— and their health and welfare, so directly tied to our own, is critically dependent upon responsible garden and farm practices.

Bumble bees visit many kinds of flowers throughout the growing season. But like all pollinators, bumble bees do prefer some blossoms more than others. When certain plant species are blooming —particularly Ajuga reptans, Veronica, Salvia and Lespedeza— my garden is literally buzzing with activity. Like honeybees, bumble bees are very effective pollinators; gathering from one or two species at a time (this behavior is known as constancy, and it’s key to the pollination of fruits and vegetables we humans depend upon). Bumble bees and other bees communicate with one another in various ways. Ever wonder how a bee knows where to go for food? Bumble bees actually let one another know which flowers have already been visited by marking those blossoms with scent. These fascinating insects have a language all their own; one we are only just beginning to understand …

When I snapped the photo above —amused by the sight of a bumble bee raising one of its middle legs— I thought perhaps it was stretching. Surprise, surprise! I recently learned that this is a defensive behavior. The bumble bee was warning me to back off, because I (and my camera lens) got too close for comfort!

Recently, while out capturing images of early morning bumble bees visiting the blue Speedwell (Veronica spicata ‘Sunny Border Blue’) along the Wildflower Walk, I noticed a bee raising one of its middle legs. It struck me as amusing, and as I came in closer for a shot, the bee extended its leg even further; looking a lot like a karate kick! After downloading the photos, curiosity got the better of me and —doing a bit of research on the fantastic bumblebee.org website— I discovered that by raising its leg, the bumble bee was actually trying tell me that I’d come a bit too close for its comfort. The bee wanted me to move away, but ignorant of its social cues, I came even closer! What I thought a fascinating experience was actually quite unpleasant for the bee, and it was striking a defensive pose. Sorry friend! I’ll pay much closer attention to your signals next time.

Do you enjoy listening to the hum of bumble bees on a summer day? Invite these native pollinators into your garden by providing a steady supply of blossoms throughout the growing season. Some early blooming spring flowers for bumble bees: Salix discolorHamamelis vernalis, Hamamelis x intermediaVacciniumViburnumCercisPierisEnkianthusAjuga reptans, CrocusRhododendron and spring blooming Erica and Calluna. And to attract bumble bees later in the season, try planting some of the following summer and fall blooming flowers for bumblers: Lupine, Aquilegia, Nepeta, Aesculus, CornusVeronica, Asclepias species, Perovskia, Lespedeza thunbergii, Clethera alnifolia, Hamamelis virginiana, Itea virginica, Sedum, Asteraceae, Monarda, Agastache, Penstemon, Lavendula, Mentha, Allium, Stachys, Althea (single flowered), Lavendula, Valeriana, Salvia, Thymus and most other herbs. Check out the links below for more flower lists and information on supporting bees of all kinds in your garden…

For more fascinating information about the humble bumble, visit the bumblebee.org website by clicking here.

And for information on the honeybee, and other bees —plus great tips and useful information for supporting all pollinators— visit thehoneybeeconservancy.org by clicking here.

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, articles and content on this site, (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

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