Our library system periodically hosts adult Ed programs for the community. The other night there was one about turning your turf lawn into a - and I quote the presenter here - a native paradise for pollinators. Figuring he knew more than I did (ours is three years old and far from a paradise), I settled in to learn.
This past week was National Moth Week. Don’t feel badly if you missed it - I didn’t pick up on it until Thursday. Even then I have to admit I was skeptical; my perception of moths was somewhat negative. Either they hung around the porch lights at night making nuisances of themselves or they took bites out of sweaters – expensive wool sweaters. I just couldn’t feature why moths needed to be celebrated for an entire week!
One of the most exciting things I discovered in my ramblings is that the message to protect our pollinators is not only being heard, but it is also being put into practice. In every town we visited in every one of the five states, gardens filled with native flowers were flourishing. And to top it off, bumblebees were slowly perusing the blossom buffets in four of the five states. (Unfortunately, one of our stops was Wyoming where bumblebees have already disappeared. I was encouraged though, to see that an effort is being made to draw them back; the Wyoming gardens were filled with bumblebee delicacies.)
My 85 year old neighbor called me out over last week’s blog. Initially I was crushed because she is always my biggest fan, but once I got past ego, I had to admit that she was right. I dropped a problem in my reader’s laps — disappearing bumble bees —and then just left it there. I offered no solutions, nothing for the reader to follow up on. This week I intend to change that because there definitely are ways to protect bumblebees and help them become regular visitors in your garden.
My granddaughter is terrified of bees — especially bumble bees. She comes by it naturally. Her mother is terrified of them too. I think it stems from seeing her baby sister repeatedly stung by a swarm of honeybees while playing on a neighborhood school playground. I’ll admit that it was a traumatic incident, but it happened over 30 years ago, so it’s time to move on! (On a side note- the one who was actually stung isn’t bothered in the least by bees; she considers them her garden friends)
One of my neighbors stopped by a few weeks ago to comment on our yard. “Seeing all the flowers in bloom,” she said, “made her feel like spring was right around the corner.” I have to admit that as much as I appreciated and understood her intent, her compliment made me cringe inside. You see, she was seeing my snowdrops, daffodils and crocus all in bloom at the same time. Yes, it made for a color-filled late February bed, but they should have been blooming in succession; that’s what Mother Nature intended.
This roller coaster of a winter has been a nightmare for gardeners here in mid-Missouri. One day, the thermometer reads 16 below zero and you are spreading ice melt so that the mail carrier can make it up the driveway to the mail slot. Then, a mere four days later, it is a balmy 58 degrees and you’re in the yard seriously thinking about getting a jump on your spring gardening chores. Before you begin pulling weeds, spading the garden, doing some trimming or raking up those piles of dead leaves, I have a piece of advice for you. DON’T. Just don’t. The urge to get in some early gardening chores can backfire on you. At its worst, jumping the landscaping gun can cause real harm to your landscape, or at the very least, you could wind up having to repeat what you’ve already done. Neither is a particularly pleasant outcome.
When we left ten days ago, our lawn looked like this:
When we came back, this was what our lawn looked like:
and this was the neighbor’s:
After six years I still can’t convince him that there are much better ways to get rid of fall leaves than sending them to the dump in black plastic bags.