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Posts Tagged ‘plants’

Itching for Good

We picked up a bunch of native plants from a local eco organization and added them to the garden over the weekend. To go along with existing pollinator plants like butterfly weed, chives, and Joe Pye Weed, I am now the proud owner of flowers like wild bergamot, yellow tickseed, and black-eyed Susan.

Also approximately one million extremely itchy bug bites, and as anyone who knows me knows, I really hate mosquitoes.

But.

Birds and butterflies and pollinators in general need food and shelter. These plants will live outdoors and I had to get them moved into their new homes; the mosquitoes just took advantage of my helpful nature. (Also my delicious blood.)

So both arms are itchier than I’d like, plus I have a row of awkwardly-placed extra bumps on my spine (particularly fun) and what I’m pretty sure is a spider bite on my wrist, which is now extra red, itchy and swollen.

Still worth it!

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Photos by Evan BuchholzJoshua J. CottenAaron BurdenKarl-Heinz MüllerIlana GrosternGaétan Marceau CaronZdeněk Macháček on Unsplash

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A plant is running a casino in my yard. Also, yesterday was World Bee Day, so let’s talk about the intersection of the two.

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As I’ve mentioned before, lawns are a pain. Right now our lawn is an interesting mix of grass, ground ivy, and wild strawberry, with a few dandelions thrown in for good measure. It actually looks quite pretty, with green grass and purple, white and yellow flowers.  

The ground ivy, or Creeping Charlie, is particularly good at spreading.

We’re moving in, see? And there’s nothing youse guys can do about it.

It’s also good at bringing in the bees. Right now there are several big bumblebees happily flitting from flower to purple flower. Watching them fly, I noticed that they bounce from plant to plant before settling on a flower. Curious, I did a bit of research.

It turns out that Creeping Charlie is playing those bees like a fiddle.

“Creeping Charlie employs a unique strategy to attract some bee visitors, such as sweat bees, bumble bees, and honey bees, that is tied into how the flower produces nectar.  The flowers have a unique strategy for rewarding visitor pollinators, commonly referred to as the “lucky hit” strategy.  Creeping Charlie flowers produce an average of 0.3 microliters of nectar per flower, but the amount of nectar in any one flower varies greatly, ranging from 0.06 to 2.4 microliters. “

— Creeping Charlie: Management and Value to Pollinators | Turfgrass Science

Like the psychology of gambling, such random reward mechanisms keep those bees coming back for more. The good news is that on average, these flowers are worth the bees’ time and energy.

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I’m all for pollinator planting, but before you sign on to the Creeping Charlie train, let me say that it is considered invasive in many places and is most certainly difficult to remove.

“While Creeping Charlie could be a good nectar source for bees, we are not recommending that you let it take over your lawn.”

(It’s a bit late for that, but at least the bees and I can look on the bright side.)

Consider a turf alternative like this Bee blend, or plant clover instead. Bees love it, and they aren’t the only ones.

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Nom nom! Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash

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Our days are brighter, the nights are shorter, and Mr. Man’s orange tree is blooming. It smells divine.

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Background: I have a feeder in the yard and we get a lot of visiting birds, along with squirrels, chipmunks, and the odd raccoon. Given all this traffic, plus wind and Nature’s Mysterious Ways, we also have a lot of what real gardeners (not me) call “volunteer” plants. I found what looked like a raspberry sprout and, ever curious, stuck it into an unused planter off to the side.

Mmm, delicious, I thought. Raspberries. Or blackberries. Or whatever. What’s not to like?

And for a while, everything went swimmingly. Despite poor light, irregular watering, and general lack of care, the plant thrived. It made it through last winter unprotected and came back in the spring. Now it’s a bush-sized marvel taking up way more space than intended. Fine, I thought, I’ll trim it back. Let me just take off the last foot or so of these canes. I’ll take my trusty pruners and grab this green bit and pull the end over and…

overlord

Overlord, with roots.

What?

It turns out that there is a reason why real gardeners (still not me) do not generally welcome volunteer raspberry (or whatever) sprouts in their gardens. I knew that they were hard to kill, and that they spread via seeds. What I did not know is that these plants were lulling me into a false sense of security so that they could spread by slo-mo walking from spot to spot, rooting their cane *tips* whenever they could. Drawing their emerald chains ever tighter around me.

I had to yank hard on the cane, full weight behind the effort, leather gloves punctured by thorns and all, before I could uproot this monster. And it had friends!

overlordtoo

Overlord, with traitorous cat. Figures.

Here’s a closeup shot of the leaves; perhaps one of you out there knows the exact subspecies of plant. All I know is that if I let this go on much longer, we’ll all be calling it “Master.”

So the plant/future overlord has to go. Just as soon as I get over the cold I picked up last weekend. Time for some raspberry herbal tea, I think:)

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