A curious ambivalence toward beauty

P1010127I was just admiring some pink tulips that are brightening up my kitchen table on this extremely cold (-16C) and blustery winter day. I like them well enough, in fact tulips are one of the few cut flowers that I do enjoy. But as I was looking at them it occurred to me that I am curiously ambivalent about cut flowers. What’s that about? I am a passionate, if not obsessed, gardener. My perennials beds have so many different colours in them that it looks like a colour wheel exploded in my backyard. With the exception of Sweet Peas (which beg to be cut and deserve to be capitalized) and the occasional delphinium bloom that falls over from its own weight, I very rarely cut flowers from the garden to bring into the house.

Then I realized why. To me, flowers cease being “plants” when they are stuck in a vase. They are beautiful, of course, but they are not alive. I guess I regard them in the same way I would a fur pelt – gorgeous, but no longer an animal and not nearly as interesting.

That’s just my own quirk, of course – I’m not being judgemental. And fair warning – the wise man who comes to court me will bring the entire plant with him.


Put Out the Welcome Mat for Leafcutter Bees in Your Garden

Heather Holm is a gardener and a naturalist and a great writer – a big inspiration for me! I love her articles on houzz.com and this one – all about leafcutter bees – is well worth checking out. Once you finish reading it you’ll never again curse the creature that bit a half-moon shaped chunk out of a leaf on your rose bushes.

Show me the drought-tolerant alternatives to lawns

I’m a firm believer that we devote too much real estate, time, and resources to lawns – so it’s nice to have an alternative to point to for once. Here’s a stunning example of a drought-tolerant planting – in a “hell strip” no less. It’s primarily Blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis) with several varieties of sedges. If all the hell strips in suburbia were planted this way you’d see a whole lot more people getting out of their cars and walking.

This image comes from Houzz.com, where the gardening and landscape stories are definitely worth checking out. If you’re interested in ecologically-friendly gardening, I recommend any of the stories written by Benjamin Vogt.

How grouping native plants together in your garden helps pollinators

I highly recommend this article on why it’s important to protect pollinators and some of the things we all can do in our gardens – whether our yards are big or small – to make life easier for them: Everyone Can Play a Role in Pollinator Conservation

Kelly Gill, a Pollinator Conservation Specialist with the Xerces Society, makes a great point about how we overlook the welfare of wild pollinators in favour of European honeybees, at our peril:

On a per-bee basis, native bees are far more effective pollinators than honey bees for many crops …studies show that only 250 female orchard mason bees are necessary to pollinate an acre of apples. About one to two hives of honeybees would be necessary to do the same job – a total of 15,000 to 20,000 honeybees.

This, I didn’t know:

In small spaces, plant a few native pollinator plants in three feet diameter clumps. Clumping like-species makes small patches more visible and pollinators are able to move easily from flower to flower.

The Xerces Society is a wonderful non-profit organization that has been dedicated to protecting wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat for over forty years. One of things we forget in our drive to protect wildlife is the critical role insects play in the food chain. Doug Tallamy put it best in his book, Bringing Nature Home:

“…so many animals depend partially or entirely on insect protein for food, a land without insects is a land without higher forms of life.”