The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

That Yellow Jacket Sold Me on Lantana at Lowe's

Southern_Yellowjacket_Queen_(Vespula_squamosa)


The blueberry canes, fading in the heat, reminded me to mulch them heavily, so I went to Lowe's. Today was cool with a false promise of rain, so my ambition was greater than the previous day when everyone felt like they were starring in a B movie about the Deep South, unable to move from the heat and humidity.

Our helper came over to finish the lawn, so he mulched with cyprus that I picked up at Lowe's.  He took home some fresh sweet corn. I apologized for the small size, but he was happy to take some  corn home and try it.

When I harvest corn to take inside, I strip the ears outside to see how the ear has developed. Some are always inadequate to take in, so I clean them up and put them on the bird feeder where the young squirrels start their day. They must watch me from the trees, because they appear on the platform, wildly swinging, as soon as I come indoors. They sit to eat seeds, but they grab the corn and disappear with it. Yesterday I heard a thump as the squirrel landed on the swinging platform and left with his prize corn.




I decided to look at the Lantana on clearance, since the plants were about $2. I was thinking about getting five at once when a yellow jacket buzzed one flower. The insect convinced me to get all five.

Lantana berries travel, thanks to birds enjoying them.
OK - haters. Everyone wants to diss spiders, bees, wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets. I was at the dermatologist and he expressed surprise that wasps and hornets were beneficial. We talked a little about good bugs eliminating bad ones since I had the Walliser book along for reading - Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden.

Walliser's initial pages were confirmed in my experience with aphids on the roses. The beneficials arrive a little later, if given time and a toxin free area where to work. The Pope John Paul II white roses and - sob - the Peace roses were destroyed by aphids on the first round of blooming. On the second bloom cycle they were almost completely free of damage.

The yellow jacket was hovering around the Lantana blooms. I picked up the tray anyway, to take it to the cash register inside. A phobic person would start jumping around, waving arms, and shouting, great way to get stung. Once again, I had no trouble.

Lantana is known to attract butterflies
and can be a perennial in the South.

Flowers are that much more fun because of the insect action on and around them. I once saw Mountain Mint in DC and thought, "I have to own some." Reading this reminded me of that vow, from about 30 years ago.

But my favorite of the mountain mints is Pycnanthemum muticum (short-toothed, clustered, or big leaf mountain mint). The leaves of this plant are an inch (2.5 cm) or so across; surrounding each cluster of pinkish white flowers are showy silvery bracts. Visitors to my garden ask about this plant more than any other. Every summer it is swarming with bees, butterflies, parasitic wasps, and beetles and flies of all sorts. At night I often find lacewings and moths drinking from its flowers. All mountain mints thrive in full to partial sun and average to moist soils. They are notably deer and critter resistant, probably because of their highly fragrant foliage. Another important note about this plant: don’t be turned off by the word mint. Mountain mint does not spread aggressively via underground stolons like members of the genus Mentha. Much like bee balm, it forms a dense stand. That being said, of all the Pycnanthemum species, P. muticum has the greatest tendency to get a little out of hand. It is easy to control, though, by frequently separating the clump with a shovel.

Walliser, Jessica (2014-02-26). Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control (Kindle Locations 2579-2587). Timber Press. Kindle Edition.

When we were looking at one of the gardens in DC, that is what happened to me. One plant had an air show of insects buzzing around it - that was a mountain mint.

Mountain Mint

Mountainmints are in bloom right now , and they are covered with a spectacular variety of butterflies, bees, wasps, and moths! These beneficial pollinators all graze for nectar contentedly, since these plants provide enough food for everyone simultaneously, and over a long period of time. From morning until evening these plants are alive with the dance of the pollinators.
The bloom period begins in July, and extends at least through August. Like other members of the mint family, these species have clusters of flowers that bloom progressively over a long period of time.
I have learned that local retailers constantly swap out their plant selections, so the bargain tomato or Bee Balm plants may be there for a day or a week and then be gone. On the Net, the same thing is true, but clearance plants are usually sold out at once, due to predatory gardeners.

Rustic Fence - More Planting Zones
Before we had a backyard which was one large area of poorly growing grass with branches hanging down too low to use the area.

First we planted along the entire fence, using soaker hose above and long the fence to water the plants there. We mulched last fall and planted in the spring.

Stretching the parts of the dead tree along a line to form a rustic fence, resting on cardboard to reduce the weeds, we now have a new area for plants. I am thinking that behind the fence would be one type of plant (bargain roses) while the front will be beneficial insect plants. A vine could be trained along the fence too, since Honeysuckle grows well and nurtures many insects too.

The solar lights are already on the fence, partly for safety if someone ventures out at night. The lights charge up all day and twinkle all night, with a bright solar light at each opening.


Rose Harvest
My favorite ongoing harvest - roses. Hot weather and extra watering meant a quick, new blooming cycle.

I grabbed a large vase and began filling it yesterday.

  • John Paul II - pure white. Fragrant.
  • Peace - yellow turning to pink on the edges.
  • Pink Peace - vibrant pink. Fragrant.
  • Veterans Honor - pure red. Fragrant.
  • Tropicana - coral.
  • Bride's Dream - pale pink.
  • Double Delight - white, yellow, deep pink. Fragrant.


Mr. Lincoln has one cane 8 feet long. I am waiting to see what sprouts there.

Bride's Dream 
Creating a useful garden environment is enjoyable and educational. Each day I learn something more by reading more material and observing the results of Creation gardening.

Someone wrote back, when I posted about justification by faith on Facebook, "Do you write about anything else?" The answer is both yes and no. There is only one revelation in the Scriptures, starting with Creation by the Word of God - the Logos.

There are not many topics in the Scriptures, but many topics. The Reformers were careful to avoid making the Christian Faith a collection of doctrines - there is only One Doctrine, one Unified Truth.

Creation by the Word is directly related to God's declaration of forgiveness by the Word. Believers are God's new Creation. We are not new Decisions, but new Creations.

Those who comprehend the power of God's Word - calling the universe into being - will also believe in the efficacy of the Gospel - creating and nurturing faith in Christ, the Creating Word. Thus grace is always found in the Means of Grace, the Word and Sacraments and nowhere else.