The Birds and the Bees (Literally)

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My front yard vegetable garden where I leave milkweed standing to support pollinators and encourage them to hang out with my veggies.

It’s not officially fall yet so I won’t even go there; there’s plenty of summer left and I’m going to take full advantage of the warm days and late summer blooms. And there are lots of those to peek at right now.

My home garden is where I spend an inordinate amount of time (inordinate to every non-gardener, ordinate to my gardening peers).  I don’t have much space – nowhere near what the Wildflower Farm has but you know what? I can grow a good number of native plants among the non-natives and edibles.

This week I’m going to focus on the amazing native plants in my home garden to show you that they can be grown by any regular gardener.  No need for vast amounts of space or anything special. And no need for any special skills.

 

Rudbeckia Triloba

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I love the tiny faces of this plant. They’re the cuter cousins of the black-eyed Susan and liven up the garden like no other plant.

I should point out that I didn’t actually plant these.  I have no idea where they came from – they certainly weren’t in the garden last year.  A virtual thanks goes out to the neighbourhood birds.  I find the colour to be a little deeper than their larger cousins, the black-eyed Susan, but the flower is much smaller, button-like I’d say.

The interesting thing is that the plant is actually a biennial (blooming every second year).  You won’t even notice, though, since it self-sows readily into open spaces.  It’s a little picky, preferring fairly rich soil that stays moderately moist.

Mine are in a partly shaded corner of the garden and just began to bloom a few weeks ago.  I expect to see blossoms well into October.

 

Silphium perfoliatum

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Look at how the leaves come together at the stem creating a tiny water holder. Perfect for butterflies and birds.

These brilliant yellow faces showed up in the back yard last year.  Again, no idea where they came from but you can be pretty certain the birds had a hand (or wing?) in the matter.

Last year I had two bunches of them, this year I look out my window and see six. No matter how gloomy the day is, they bring a smile to my face.  I know that after a rain, the plant provides water to the birds that planted them, and many others.  That’s the neat thing about the cup plant (adequately named), the square stem is wrapped by leaves that create a cup and holds water.

This year I actually dug up a few of the smaller plants early in the season and moved them to the front garden. They’re alive and well and about to bloom! Excited to see what next year brings.

 

Solidago / Oligoneuron spp. (The Goldenrods)

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Bumblebee heaven.

 

 

I’m no goldenrod expert, let’s just throw that out there first.  I know Canada goldenrod is an aggressive “weed” and other goldenrods aren’t.  The goldenrod that grows along my driveway is Canada goldenrod (I’m pretty sure) but after the first year of living here watching the late summer/fall bee activity it draws in, I didn’t have the heart to rip it out.  It hasn’t spread or taken over any other gardens and it continues to bring colour when almost everything else is done.

 

 

 

 

I actually captured these happy bees yesterday evening, buzzing around, gathering pollen, and just loving life. I’ve also seen beetles, spiders, and lots of syrphid flies on the bright yellow clusters.  It’s a popular spot for sure.

For something that won’t spread or take over in the garden, try stiff or showy goldenrod. Oh yea, and it doesn’t cause allergies (it’s insect, not wind, pollinated).

I find new plants every year in the place.  The spring time brings hepatica; trout lily; red, white, and pink trilliums; and ramps.  As the season continues, the milkweed, black-eyed Susan, strawberries (that actually produce delicious edible fruit), lupine, and harebell.

On walks through the area, I notice bergamot, asters, more milkweed and black-eyed Susan, yarrow, and Joe pye weed.

This fall, I’ll be assessing my space and making a conscious decision to plant some native flowers in the empty spaces where I removed other material earlier this spring. Something tells me, though, that the birds have already made the decision for me. And the bees couldn’t be happier.

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