Friday, June 21, 2013

National Pollinator Week!



It's been National Pollinator Week and I've had fun participating in garden tours, attending talks, and will do a program tomorrow about native plants for pollinators -- great fun for an excellent initiative.

I started gardening for butterflies three decades ago, but rapidly expanded my interest to native bees, and other flower insects.  I never studied entomology, unfortunately, but my best friend in graduate school as well my hubby (whom I also met in graduate school) studied pollination biology, so I was at least aware of the field!

But as a gardener and educator, it's been a joy to encourage people to include plants that "work for a living" and this includes pollinator-friendly plants of all sorts.  From adding nectar- and pollen-rich flowers to providing habitat for nesting and larval food sources -- we can easily support pollinators in our landscapes.

I've posted a pdf of the presentation on the sidebar.  Just click on the image to view it.

I'm glad I'll have the opportunity to plug pollinator habitat as part of pollinator week!

(The presentation is at a great local native plant garden, the Botanical Gardens at Asheville and is in support of the Pollination Celebration organized by Bee City USA.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Native azaleas

Most of our deciduous native azaleas (Rhododendron spp.) in the mountains and piedmont of the Carolinas have already flowered (there are just one or two species yet to come).

This natural hybrid (from Gregory Bald in the Southern Appalachians) has been in flower the last week and a half on the slope below our small house in the mountains-- beautiful. 

Gregory Bald hybrid native azalea

Not surprisingly, local native plant nursery folks collected the hybrids 

Gregory Bald is a mecca for hikers and plant lovers.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Spigelia marilandica (Indian pink)

Along with Silene virginica (Fire Pink), Spigelia marilandica (Indian Pink) is one of my favorite "red" flowers of late spring.

The striking tubular flowers are remarkable -- I'd imagine ruby-throated hummingbirds would visit them, although I've not seen that.  This plant was at the Botanical Gardens of Asheville - a robust specimen!

Spigelia marilandica (Indian Pink)

Swiss chard

I've grown what I thought was OK Swiss chard in the past. Certainly, I've managed to enjoy the harvest enough to post about it.

But this year's cool spring and abundant rain has produced leafy robust red chard that's been amazing.  Now maybe the extra mushroom compost (the real thing) along with fresh doses of organic fertilizer have helped, too.

But, transplants from seeds this winter that I moved around to various spots in my raised beds have been remarkably productive.

This was just a quick cutting for tonight's dinner!

Swiss chard

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Spiderwort and carolina rose

I've been busy doing other things, aside from gardening, but have been enjoying the lush green of spring, without the hot dryness that summer will bring.  My gardening companion and I had an opportunity to talk about wildflowers and gardening with native plants last week on Your Day (listen to the archived show), aired statewide on SCETV radio -- lots of fun! It's always great to encourage people to learn more about our Southeastern natives.

I'm still in the midst of harvesting the last of the cool-season greens and sowing warm season squash, amaranth, and cucumbers, and still am putting in peppers and tomatoes. It's been slow to warm up in the mountains, even with the stone raised beds.

Standouts in the pocket meadow right now are Penstemon digitalis and Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea) with lovely purple Verbascum and Verbena flowers echoing the color of the phlox nearby.

The recently planted Carolina Rose (Rosa carolina) is loaded with flowers, which are actively gleaned of their pollen by sweat bees.
In the bed below the house, a lovely spiderwort (Tradescantia) with lime-colored leaves has been visible from the studio door. 

Individual flowers are open only for a day, but are quickly replaced by fresh ones!
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