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Busy Bees Make Gardens Fruitful

Bees are the unthanked field help of a garden. Many people -- including my fellow gardener, Karen -- can't stand them and don't want plants that attract them in a garden.

On a recent dog walk, I saw a swarm of bees. It was an awesome sight. One bee is one thing, hundreds are something else.

Then this came across the potting bench:

"Unlike honey bees, Mason Bees create nests in hollow spaces like reeds and holes in wood and 'pad' them, as their name suggests, with mud from the surrounding garden.  Because mason bees will settle in and colonize in a friendly environment, you can encourage them by providing them a pre-built home like the Blue Orchard Mason Bee Nest available at High Country Gardens."

The nest looks like a piece of clay pipe with straws inside.  It has a natural, functional look that would go well in any garden.

I'd never realized before that it was possible to avoid seasonal bee swarms.

The news release went on to say: "By including flowers in your edible garden and orchard plans, you will also provide the perfect "live/work space" for these hard working natives. Fragrant lavender is a favorite as are the many varieties of Echinacea (coneflower), poppy, aster, sunflowers and goldenrod.  Don't forget, too, that many flowering culinary herbs are terrific bee, butterfly and hummingbird attractors. Sage, thyme, chives, basil and mint are all beautiful (and tasty !) flowering herbs and will provide a healthy, happy home for both your working bees and your family."

High Country Gardens also pointed out that butterflies and hummingbirds are good pollinators in gardens that include flowers. Our garden, unfortunately, is well supervised by a gang of cats so anything that lures birds would simply be cruel.

Don't miss the water-thrifty plant options in High Country's virtual catalog . . . the colors are wonderful and the shapes varied. Best of all, High Country has thoughtfully provided an online article about low-water gardens. AND . . . there's a blog with photos, articles about different species of wildflowers and how to make your lawn an eco-contributor instead of an eco-drain.

One of my favorites in their catalog are the preplanned gardens.  They come with a planting diagram, plants and maintenance instructions. Among the choices are "Pretty in Pink," the Xeric Aroma Garden (low water, highly fragrant). A map in the catalog helps you select plants that will work in your climate. It's a great catalog to savor -- practical, down to earth and it leaves you smarter than when you opened it . . .

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