The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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which works as gregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Pollinator Flowers - Loved by Bees, Beneficial Insects, and Butterflies

 Joe Pye Weed - Photo by Liz West

Joe Pye Weed is named after Joe Pye, who made medicine from the plant. It has been known as an herbal plant, used for various ailments.

Every time I read about plants for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, Joe Pye's name is on the list. I have been intrigued about this so-called weed for a long time.

Some cool things about Joe Pye -
JPW is on every list for attracting butterflies. So, with Butterfly Bush and other pollinator plants, JPW will leverage the attraction. We normally have butterflies in our yard now. The next step is having more variety, based on the plants they must have, such as milkweed family for Monarchs.

JPW is a Monarch migration plant.

Bees love JPW. If it is a bee plant, then it will also be popular among the tiny deplorables. They are the beneficial insects that need nectar and pollen as adults, but lay their eggs on, in, or near pests. The horror! - the hatching babies devour the pests and turn into adults that lay the eggs later.
Look for tiny Ichneumon Wasps on sunny, calm days.
Flower Flies will also be nearby - looking like miniature honey bees, but with no sting.

Lists

I had a long list to study the other day, and I scratched the names off as bad attributes were cited, such as every part is toxic, and it is invasive (Moonflower, datura). I want invasives in the Wild Garden, but not invasive and toxic plants.

There are butterfly lists, hummingbird lists, and pollinator lists. Many plants fit all three categories, such as the mints - Monarda, Mountain Mint, Cat Mint, and Scarlet Bee Balm (invasive!).

Perhaps other gardeners do this. I think about various garden areas and imagine what plants would do well there. Such as -

Hot and sunny - sunflower family, butterfly plants, tomatoes. That area now has six little tomato plants there and one Butterfly Weed.

Last area to dry out, soggy but somewhat sunny - I am working on that. I had some sunblocking tree branches trimmed away. I could fill in with some bags of peat humus ($1.69) or mushroom compost. Joe Pye Weed and Foxglove would do well there.

Shady with some sun - Hostas are prospering in the shade, and so are Wild Strawberries. I even had Triple Crown Blackberries invade from the rather sunny north side of the house. Invasive? - that must be the reason for the Triple Crown name. They are now in full bloom and attracting bees, but most of the blooms are in the sun. In their defense, that sunny north area was once owned by weeds, now elbowed aside by the berries.

Shady but more sun - Away from the shadow of the house, some plants are fine with some shade. Last year our good friend, the Army Ranger vet, earned the electric pruning saw by trimming all our trees. The effect all over was to create sunshine where shade had dominated. He offered to loan the $100 saw back to me. I said, "No, I would more likely saw one of my own limbs off. You keep it - you earned it."

In the sunnier area near the Hostas and bird-feeding zone, I have such plants as Blueberries, Chaste Tree, Gooseberry, Clethra, and Beautyberry. I picked one sunny area for Elderberries, and they tower over the backyard now, ten feet high - and possibly reaching much higher.

Likewise, the maturing Butterfly Bushes are aiming at ten feet already.

Stumps Vindicated
Yesterday, Mrs. Ichabod looked out the window and saw birds preening on the stumps. I planted stumps with branches sticking out of them, near the birdbaths, for that purpose.

Birds must bathe and preen to fly well. The bath weighs them down with water, so they must shake it off in a safe area and line up (preen) their feathers to get them aligned for flight. Birds seem to like low-lying branches for their pruning.

As I imagined, the two birds picked the branch stumps for their preening. They were off the ground, safe, and given a good view for possible predators. Five shallow baths on the ground give them a choice in case other birds want to dominate one pool or another. Each bath cost me $3 at Walmart or Target. The concrete one was offered for $7 at the end of a season.