Protecting Our Pollinators

Every garden requires pollinators, and bees are among the finest. Without them there would be limited flowers and far fewer fruits and vegetables. Did you know that about 30 percent of the food we eat depends on the pollination of bees, including onions, cashews, coffee, carrots, chocolate and vanilla? If we don’t protect these prolific pollinators, our landscapes, gardens and diets will be irrevocably changed.

About Bees

Although there are many bees that are great pollinators, like carpenter, mining, sweat and cellophane bees, some of the most well known and easily identified bees are the honeybee and bumblebee. Both of these bees live in social colonies and are cavity nesters. Because these bees are active all summer long, they require a constant supply of floral nectar close to their hive and they thrive in flower gardens, orchards and other areas with abundant blooms.

Unfortunately, both these types of bees – along with many others – are disappearing rapidly, and two key threats are to blame.

  • Habitat Loss: As more natural habitat is lost to development, there are fewer nesting locations and inadequate food supplies for bees. While meadows developed into resorts and parks disappearing for strip malls are obvious examples of development, other less visible developments that can hurt bees include widespread use of flower cultivars that do not produce adequate nectar, eliminating critical bee food sources.
  • Pesticide Drift: Widespread, abundant spraying of pesticides to protect crops, lawns and parks can inadvertently hurt bees. Stronger pesticides can kill bees directly, while less potent toxins can contaminate nectar and will gradually build up to fatal levels in bees’ systems. Even if pesticides are not sprayed in areas where bees are abundant, high level spraying can easily be spread by wind patterns into critical bee habitats.

Inviting Bees to Your Garden

Fortunately, it is easy to bring more bees to your garden and encourage healthy bee populations. To support local bees…

  • Planting a variety of flowers that will bloom throughout the entire summer to provide ongoing food supplies.
  • Opt for native flower varieties that will be more easily recognized and used by bees, instead of introduced flowers that are less familiar.
  • Eliminate chemical use in your yard, as much as possible, including on your lawn, garden and trees, especially while plants are in flower.
  • Provide bees a safe place for shelter and to lay their eggs. A wood pile is suitable, or you can invest in a specialized bee house.
  • Make sure that there is an available water source for your bees. A bird bath or any simple water basin works just fine.

Want to bring bees to your yard and help them feel at home? Start with this list of native plants bees love, and ask our experts for more tips about keeping your lawn and garden bee-friendly!

Native Plants That Attract Bees

  • Apple (Malus)
  • Aster (Aster)
  • Blackberry & Raspberry (Rubis)
  • Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)
  • Blueberries (Vaccinium)
  • Currant (Ribes)
  • Elder (Sambucus)
  • Goldenrod (Solidago)
  • Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum)
  • Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium)
  • Lupine (Lupinus)
  • Penstemon (Penstemon)
  • Purple Coneflower (Echinacea)
  • Redbud (Cercis)
  • Rhododendron (Rhododendron)
  • Sage (Salvia)
  • Stonecrop (Sedum)
  • Sunflower (Helianthus)
  • Willow (Salix)

 

Plant a Patriotic Flower Garden

A patriotic flower garden can be a great way to show off your national pride, support a military serviceman or servicewoman, or just add decorative flair to your yard or landscaping for summer holidays. With careful steps, your flower garden can be filled with red, white and blue pride for the entire neighborhood to enjoy.

When to Be Patriotic

While a red, white and blue flower garden can be enjoyed any time from early spring through late fall, these color combinations are more popular for celebrating summer holidays. From Memorial Day in late May through Flag Day (June 14), Independence Day (July 4) and even to Labor Day in early September, a patriotic flower garden can be the perfect decoration. These designs are also popular for summer barbecues, family reunions and other celebrations. Whenever you want your garden to be in its full, colorful bloom, however, be sure to choose suitable flowers with planting times and growth habits that ensure they look their best on the desired date.

Planning the Flower Garden

You can turn an existing flowerbed into a patriotic display or plan an entirely new flower garden to show your patriotic pride. Regardless of which flowerbed you use, there are different factors that should be considered to make sure the bed looks its very best.

  • Size Any size flower garden can show patriotic colors, but it needs to be carefully designed so all the colors are seen equally. Larger flowerbeds are easier to design colorfully, though it does also depend on where the flower garden is positioned. If the garden is in a very visible space, a smaller garden can be just as delightful as any larger flowerbed. For mini gardens, patriotic plantings may be constructed in a single pot with one thriller, one filler and one spiller plant to give the arrangement balance and movement.
  • Shape Any flowerbed shape can be patriotically designed, whether it is a small, narrow bed, a larger round bed, a spot beneath a tree or alongside a house or fence. A curved bed might lend itself well to a “waving flag” type of design, while a round bed could become a star pattern. Simple color blocking can be used in any bed shape to create a patriotic color scheme.
  • Location It is important that a patriotic flower garden be visible, not only for your enjoyment, but also for your guests, whether those guests are neighbors passing by your yard, visitors enjoying a barbecue party or anyone else who may see the bed. Properly positioned, the flower garden can be a welcome statement for your yard as well as a focal point for your landscape.
  • Design There are many beautiful designs for patriotic flower gardens. You could create an image in flowers, such as planning colors and arrangements to mimic an American flag, or you might create star shapes with the different colors. Simply balancing patriotic colors in different tiers can be a lovely option as well.

Coloring Your Patriotic Flower Garden

There are many different and beautiful ways to incorporate red, white and blue into a patriotic flower garden, both with plants as well as decorative accents.

  • Red Popular red flowers for a patriotic bed include cockscomb, begonias, dahlias, impatiens, geraniums, petunias, salvia and cannas. Choose flowers with bold, rich red shades that aren’t too pale or pinkish. Other red accents could include red brick edging, a bright red gazing ball, red hummingbird feeders or even red mulch such as wood chips or lava rock.
  • White White stone edging, a short decorative fence or river rocks can frame a patriotic flower bed, and there are many stunning white flowers to fill that bed. Heliotrope, petunias, vinca, dahlia, salvia, alyssum, and calibrachoa are just a few options that can add a burst of white to the bed. You can also consider red and blue flowers that have white accents in their blooms.
  • Blue It can be difficult to find blue flowers with the proper rich hue for a patriotic flower garden. Options include salvia, lobelia and browallia. To add more blue tones, consider a blue gazing ball, ceramic blue bird bath or blue containers and pots in the proper blue shades rather than having too much purple-like coloration.

More Tips for a Patriotic Flower Garden

There are many other fun ways to give your flower garden even more patriotic flair. Choose flower types that have star shapes in their blooms or coloration, or opt for big, bold blooms that resemble bursts of fireworks. Adding ornamental grasses to the bed can give it a sense of fireworks as well, or you can go vertical with a colored trellis or arbor, such as a blue structure to support red and white flowers. Add flag stakes to decorate the bed and there will be no mistaking its patriotic nature.

To be sure your garden looks its very best right before a party, holiday or other celebration, trim away excess greenery so as much red, white and blue color is exposed as possible. Also trim, prune or pinch away any blooms that have faded or discolored, especially white blooms that may be showing brown edges that can detract from the flowerbed’s beauty. With a little care and attention, your patriotic flower garden will be brimming with colorful spirit all summer long.

Wise Watering

Periods of drought, heat waves and rising water bills can make any gardener more interested in saving water. Fortunately, there are many ways you can be water-wise without skimping on the moisture your plants need to thrive.

  • Make the Most of Mulch Mulches not only make plantings look more attractive, but their most important function is to help retain soil moisture. They keep the ground cool to reduce moisture loss and prevent growth of grasses and weeds that would otherwise compete with plant roots for soil moisture. The recommended depth is 2-4 inches, and there are many mulch types you can choose from to complement your landscaping and garden design.
  • Improve the Soil Prevent soil compaction and aerate regularly to improve the efficiency of how the soil absorbs and retains water. Test the pH and make sure the levels are correct for the plants you are growing. Till in several inches of compost each year and amend with Profile soil conditioner.
  • Plant Wisely When deciding what to plant, consider native species as they are adapted to the area and can withstand the local moisture conditions, including periods of low rainfall or drought. Also consider plants that have been specifically bred as drought-tolerant, particularly for more at-risk areas of your yard. Ask one of our staff for recommendations of native plants.
  • Design Thoughtfully to Save Water A good landscape design can help minimize water use. Start with graph paper and sketch your home, property lines, water faucets, existing trees and other permanent features. Plant large deciduous trees to maximize summer shade on the hot sides of your house. Combine groundcover in your plantings. This can reduce surface temperature up to 20 degrees. Plant a dense windbreak to cut down on drying winds. Group plants together by water needs and concentrate high water demand plants into one area. Plant rock gardens, native shrubs or drought-tolerant wildflowers on southern exposures.
  • Use Water-Saving Watering Techniques Install a drip irrigation system and use other water-saving devices like soaker hoses to minimize water loss. The system of “drip watering” that was originally designed for commercial use is now available to the home gardener. It has become very easy to use and quite effective. Drip watering applies water slowly and steadily directly to root zones in proper amounts. This saves time (less time watering and weeding) and money (less water). It also puts water where it’s needed without runoff or evaporation.
  • Choose the Proper Watering Tools You will want to look at our various styles of oscillating and pulsating sprinklers and choose the sizes and styles that meet your unique landscaping needs. Other assorted nozzles and wands can also make watering easier and more efficient. The Four Channel Water Distributor allows several watering accessories to be used at the same time.

It doesn’t take much to get started watering wisely, and not only will your plants thank you for providing adequate moisture, but you’ll love how much your water bill dries up!

Creating a Meditation Space in Your Garden

Gardening can be a relaxing, therapeutic hobby as you nurture seedlings, encourage growth and bring your harvest to fruition. But if you just want to take a moment to breathe, reflect and center yourself, it isn’t necessary to get out the garden clogs, sharpen your hand tools or get dirt under your fingernails. Creating a peaceful meditation space in your garden is easy, and can turn any garden into your own private sanctuary.

The Need for Peace

As our lives get ever busier with hectic schedules and cramped appointments, it may seem impossible to have any time for thoughtful reflection or meditation. Furthermore, smaller living spaces and more crowded urban areas can make it seem equally impossible to have any space for solitary peace. Without the ability to relax, we’re faced with skyrocketing stress in our lives, along with a host of different health problems such as tension headaches, high blood pressure, depression, obesity and more. More and more studies, however, are demonstrating that time spent in nature is beneficial for reducing stress and tension, and there’s no better place to easily enjoy nature than in your own garden.

Your Peaceful Purpose

Before creating your meditation space, you need to plan what you want to use it for in order to ensure you have enough room and all the right touches for your peaceful retreat. Meditation can mean something different to everyone – you might prefer a place for quiet, contemplative prayer, or you could be interested in an outdoor space for yoga practice. For some people, a restful space for coloring or painting is their ideal meditation spot, while others may want a natural niche for reading or journaling. Creating or listening to music may be part of your meditation practice, or even a cozy spot for an outdoor nap. Whatever means peace and relaxation to you, it can be incorporated into your garden.

Eliminating Distractions

Once you know how you will use a meditation space in your garden, it is essential to eliminate other distractions and interruptions from that space. Unwanted noises, glaring streetlights, unsavory sights and even unpleasant smells can interrupt meditation and disrupt your relaxation, but it is easy to plan your gardening to eliminate those difficulties. For example, a green wall or trellis can be used to block an unsightly view, and the plants on it will help muffle noises. You could also consider a small fountain for the soothing tinkle of running water to block traffic or neighborhood noises. Climbing, clinging vines can be used to cover structures with greenery to increase the natural feel of the space. Opt for arbors or pergolas that can help create comfortable shade and define the space without completely blocking sunlight, and consider fragrant flowers nearby if unwanted aromas are invading your garden.

Adding Joy to Your Garden Space

Once your meditation area is structured and distractions are minimized, it is time to add your own personal joy into the space. What brings joy to the space will vary from garden to garden and even from season to season, but it should be a personal choice and something that helps draw you into the space. Consider…

  • Seating In order to enjoy your meditation space, you will need a place to sit and relax within it. This may be a comfortable bench, a cozy chaise lounge, a soothing hammock or any other type of seating. A chair-sized boulder can be a natural alternative, or you may opt for a more whimsical swing to add a dash of fun to your personal space.
  • Sights You’ve taken steps to block sights you don’t want to see in your garden, but a good meditation space will also include sights you want to look at. A bird feeder or bird bath can invite beautiful feathered friends to share your space, or you might prefer a lovely piece of garden art, a gazing ball, plants in your favorite colors or even unique mulch or paving stones in a therapeutic pattern.
  • Sounds Pleasant sounds can help add a focal point to your meditation space, allowing you to focus on unique tones to help center yourself. A wind chime, waterfall fountain or even a way to bring your favorite music outdoors can be a wonderful addition to a peaceful meditation space.
  • Water Water can serve several purposes in a meditation space. Flowing or splashing water provides natural white noise, and the sparkles of the water are ideal for meditative gazing or creating soothing reflections. Consider different aquatic options, such as a small stream or brook, a weeping rock, a fountain or even a reflecting pool. You can even opt for a small pond for goldfish or koi if you desire.

Above all, remember that there are no strict rules for creating your personal meditation space. Whatever brings you peace and joy can be part of your design, and it can change as your tastes and preferences change. Garden meditation spaces can vary as much as any other part of the garden, but each one helps nurture our green spirits.

Gussy Up the Veggie Garden

A vegetable garden is the ultimate in practical landscaping, and a thriving veggie patch can not only be a bountiful supplement to a grocery budget, but also an enjoyable hobby and great exercise as you sow seeds, nurture plants and take up your delicious harvest. One thing a vegetable garden does not need to be, however, is drab, and there are many fun ways to gussy up the veggie garden to show off your personal flair and gardening charisma.

Why Beautify a Vegetable Patch?

As more gardeners expand their cultivated plots into side yards and even front yards, keeping a vegetable garden attractive is essential. Not only can a lovely vegetable garden be attractive to the neighborhood, but it increases curb appeal for your home, raises awareness about the beauty of vegetables and allows you to take just as much pride in your garden’s appearance as you do in your harvest. Adding more personality to your vegetable garden is also a fun way to discover more gardening techniques and show off your more colorful side.

Fun Ways to Gussy Up the Veggie Garden

There are many different ways you can give your garden a more colorful personality, and we have everything you need to do so. While you may not want to use every technique in your garden depending on the veggies you grow and the space you have available, trying just one or two fun tactics can give your garden a great makeover.

  • Liven Up the Lines
    Instead of planting vegetables in straight rows, embrace the twists, turns and curves of your landscape with a curvy garden. You can create a pattern of colors and shapes, or use different edging options to delineate the sections of your garden in more visible ways.
  • Pretty Up Your Paths
    You don’t have to use plain dirt paths in your garden when there are colorful mulches, unique stepping stones and other options to create more interesting pathways. Try river rocks, multi-colored gravel, crushed shells, bricks or other options to define paths more beautifully.
  • Build a Beautiful Border
    Define your garden’s edge with a beautiful border. Decorative fences can be quaint, or you can plant flowers all around the garden for extra color. Use deer- and rabbit-resistant flowers such as poppies, marigolds, zinnia and verbena to help protect your garden at the same time.
  • Create Bursts of Color
    Add more color to your garden with whimsical touches such as colorful tomato cages or painted support stakes. You can also add a brilliant gazing ball, a fun seasonal decorative flag or other colorful accents to add instant vibrancy to your veggie garden.
  • Add an Amazing Arbor
    An arbor or pergola can be an amazing architectural accent in your garden. This structure can be functional as well when it provides a bit of protection for shade-loving veggies or includes a bench with hidden storage for your favorite garden tools, hoses or other equipment.
  • Verticalize Your Veggies
    Go up, up, up with your veggie garden space when you embrace vertical gardening. You can hang baskets from an arbor, trellis or poles, or create a green wall or other vertical gardening space that climbing plants will love, and you’ll see your harvest multiply.
  • Secret Spaces to Make You Smile
    Your vegetable garden doesn’t need to be nothing but growing space, and you can add a whimsical garden gnome, fairy garden setup or other secret space to the garden. You might even include a small bench or meditation fountain for extra enjoyment.
  • Welcome Beneficial Wildlife
    Bring helpful visitors to your veggie garden when you add a bee house, butterfly feeder, hummingbird feeder or bird bath to the garden. These helpful pollinators will appreciate the assistance and will repay your generosity as they increase the yield of all your veggies.
  • Select Stunning Seedlings
    The seedlings you add to your veggie patch can go a long way toward beautification when you choose plants with colorful foliage or unique produce. This also gives you a chance to experiment with new plants, and you might discover a new favorite vegetable along the way.
  • Fill In With Flowers
    Quickly add color and texture to your vegetable garden when you fill in short rows and corners with extra flowers. This is a great way to expand your garden and avoid thin or bare patches that detract from your garden’s beauty.
  • Make Magnificent Markers
    Marking plant rows and types keeps your garden organized, and you can do it with flair when you choose colorful or whimsical plant markers. Painted rocks, fun signs, cheerful flags and other options can denote your plants while adding beauty to your garden.
  • Class It Up With Containers
    A bright pot or planter box can be an attractive addition to your veggie patch, and will add extra color as well. This is a great way to add herbs, mints, berries or other fun plants to your garden. Elevate smaller pots with plant stands or pot feet to give more dimension to the garden.

With so many fun options to gussy up your veggie garden, your gardening patch can be just as beautiful as any carefully cultivated flowerbed or meticulously groomed lawn – and more delicious!

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