The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Expanding the Wild Garden

Chaste Tree is used for medicine.

When I gardened in Midland, the distant end of the backyard was ideal for compost and a wild garden. Evergreens supported a hammock, which everyone loved, especially the kids. The length was a perfect fit between two of the trees, so we did not have to stretch the hammock or move the trees.

Tall bushes divided our parsonage property from the neighbor's, and the neighbor was a good friend. He became an even better friend when the corn was ripening. He was very anxious about how the Silver Queen was doing, so I always said, "Do you want some?" He always did.

An herbalist provided me with unusual herbs, such as comfrey, tansy, and salad burnet. I grew a remarkable patch of parsley, just to attract swallowtail butterflies - and it did. The parsley was grown on pure compost, just as the sweet corn was.

I let the wild area grow with tall herbs (comfrey - borage's tall cousin), sunflowers, and whatever wanted to flourish there. One bird (forgot its name) made its nest in the tall grass and made a racket when I approached.

Now that our dead tree is cut into sections, we have the perfect rustic fence to divide the lawn grass from the newly expanded wild area. The fence juts into the air where the branches have been left on. We did as little cutting as possible. The birds will think the new perches are just for them, and they are not entirely mistaken. The jutting branches will also warn against falling over the logs.

Our helper is donating a small tree he is cutting down from his yard.

This new fence will create two lines for growing, sunflowers behind it, tall plants in front of it. The tall plants will be a year-around warning not to tumble into the wild garden. I am thinking ahead.



Plants for the Wild Garden
I am already thinking of what I will do in the wild garden, as we conquer the lawn grass with cardboard, compost, leaves, and mulch.

Rugosa roses are old-fashioned roses, known for their bright seed pods or hips. The hips are used in flower arrangements, for rose hip tea, and eaten fresh (a tart fruit loaded with Vitamin C). Birds and various animals will eat them, too. If you favor big hips, rugosa roses are the ideal diet.

All roses grow hips, which are the seed pods or fruit, but the older roses have much larger ones.

Chaste Tree is a good candidate. I have one growing - the flowers are an intense blue. Bees and insects love this plant, my Moline diaspora friends tell me.

Borage and buckwheat are two flowering bee plants, easy to grow. They seed themselves.

Some beneficial insect plants on the list are - 

Shasta daisies. Shastas are classic-looking daisies—a central core of tiny yellow disk flowers surrounded by white ray flowers. Each of these inflorescences measures 2 or more inches (5 cm) across. The plant’s glossy dark green leaves have small teeth on their margins and create good habitat for predatory bugs like assassin, damsel, and spined soldier bugs. The nectar and pollen from the flowers is preferred by some species of parasitic wasps, minute pirate bugs, lacewings, soldier beetles, ladybugs, and syrphid flies.
Walliser, Jessica (2014-02-26). Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control (Kindle Locations 2385-2386). Timber Press. Kindle Edition. 


  • Butterfly weed, related to milkweed, but prettier, good forMonarch butterflies.
  • Milkweed, self-seeding, like most weeds, and a Monarch butterfly magnet.
  • Mountain mint. 


Bee Balm or Horsemint garners a lot of attention in the garden. Like other members of the genus Monarda, it has hollow, square stems; but unlike many other monardas, horsemint bears short, tubular yellowish flowers with purple spots. Nectar from these flowers is more readily accessed by smaller bugs, while monardas with more elongated flowers are often preferred by butterflies, bees, and moths. Native plant research at Michigan State University found horsemint to be attractive to a large diversity of natural enemies, particularly late in the season. Not only does horsemint attract a plethora of good bugs, but it is also drought defiant, deer resistant, powdery mildew tolerant, and incredibly visually interesting.
Walliser, Jessica (2014-02-26). Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control (Kindle Locations 2469-2474). Timber Press. Kindle Edition. 

Alyssum - This plant may be small, but it is enticing to many natural enemies in a big way. Sweet alyssum is most often grown as an annual, and its short stature makes it a great choice for the front of the insectary border, in between crop rows, or in containers. It is frequently grown as a companion plant on organic lettuce farms because of its ability to attract a large number of beneficials, including parasitic wasps, tachinid flies, lacewings, big-eyed bugs, hoverflies, and many others. Cabbage growers also find it useful for increasing the lifespan of the parasitic wasps that control many common cabbage pests.
Walliser, Jessica (2014-02-26). Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control (Kindle Locations 2441-2445). Timber Press. Kindle Edition. 

Oregeno - Most oregano varieties produce clusters of tiny white, pink, or purple flowers atop stems lined with medium-sized oval leaves. Though oregano is considered a culinary herb, its benefits to the insectary border are as obvious as can be. Not only is oregano useful to beneficials for its nectar, pollen, and user-friendly flower shape, but it also has the ideal habit for many ground-dwelling beneficials. On a summer afternoon, I love to sit near oregano and just watch it buzz with life. If I get close enough, I can spot some pretty interesting critters. On the oregano in the dead center of my vegetable garden, I regularly find minute pirate bugs, parasitic wasps, hoverflies, tachinid flies, soldier beetles, lacewing larva, and big-eyed bugs. There are always plenty of bees and butterflies, too. And if I lift up the plant’s skirt and check out the soil beneath, I’m likely to find a handful of spiders and ground beetles scurrying about as well.
Walliser, Jessica (2014-02-26). Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control (Kindle Locations 2495-2501). Timber Press. Kindle Edition. 


Will the starlings, blue jays, or squirrels get most of the peanuts today?