The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
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email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works as gregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Bente's Historical Introductions,
and Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Little Investments in Gardening.
Clearance Flowers Build the Soil Food Web and Beneficial Insects

Reach for the book instead of pesticides,
and your garden will flourish, toxin-free.

Last summer was a challenge in gardening. Either we had too much or we were in a drought. Both favored the weeds, which flourished like get-rich schemes. I began looking for reasonable plants after the rush was over to buy them. Lowe's and Walmart have clearance areas where last month's must-have is priced at the bottom.

Plants watered from the hose and left on display are going to look bad over time. The pot is root-bound and over or under-watered. I bought a large hanging Lantana, and no one knew what it was - nor did I until I asked Dr. Google about it. Oh yes - that was the drought resistant plant I saw all over Phoenix - good for butterflies and pollinators.  Lowe's had a bunch of great Lantana for $2 a pot. These were not going to be good after the winter, but they were fun to try for the rest of the summer. With some luck a few have survived.

Bee Balm - or - the defense rests.

Bee Balm was my next find. I knew this mint was a clumping grower rather than a root-spreading pest. They were on clearance too. I kept them alive during dry spells. Now they have clumps that I can divide for the Wild Garden. They are a great plant for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

I read Jessica Walliser's book on Attracting Beneficial Bugs. Previously I spent little time learning about the plants bugs love the most. Now I try to memorize a category so I can guy some items from this family of plants. Here are the plants or families I look for in the clearance area or for one-time deals:

Lantana can droop at Lowe's and Walmart -
it is hardy and will recover from its isolation on the clearance table.
Butterflies like Lanatana.

  • The entire carrot family drops seed like crazy and nurtures beneficial insects. They have tiny flowers on little umbrellas: Dill, Queen Ann's Lace and tonier versions of the same, angelica, parsley, and anise, because this family has exposed nectaries that feed the beneficial bugs we want the most.
  • Sunflowers and its cousins. They have early-forming Extra Floral Nectar, meaning they nurture bugs early. By attracting so many beneficials, sunflowers serve as major outposts for the insects, birds, and squirrels. Plant plenty and every creature will be happy and nourished.
  • Rudbeckia - black-eyed susan, brown-eyed susan, and coneflowers. 
  • Yarrow is a good host for lace-wings, a great insect to patrol the garden and destroy pests.

The real flower is the inside, but you knew that.
The compound spirograph formation of tiny flowers
is a magnet for bees and a future treasure chest of nutritious seeds.