|This year has improved the start of the John Paul II roses,|
which were aphid magnets last year.
I was overly optimistic about the rain forecast, pouring out the stored rainwater in all my barrels. Checking on two Crepe Myrtle twigs, I decided they needed more rainwater, if I could find some. I gathered all the rain from the latest, stingy precipitation in one five-gallon pail. Both myrtle twigs were growing, snuggled in a thick blanket of peat humus, cut clover and grass. The peat mixture absorbed all the rainwater.
|Cinco de Mayo rose|
Mrs. Ichabod needed some roses for her cancer support group, which votes on who gets them each time. The winner was an 89 year-old who was having a surgical procedure. Her roses were Cinco de Mayo and Easy Does It.
| Mr. Lincoln has the most powerful fragrance |
of all the roses we grow.
Our Army Ranger neighbor was admiring our Veterans Honor and John Paul II roses, so I gave him a vase to take to the cemetery. He said, "You grow beautiful roses." He received a Mr. Lincoln, two Veterans Honor, and two JP IIs in one vase. The red-white contrast was impressive, and the collective fragrance from all five was powerful.
| Veterans Honor glows red in the garden,|
lasts forever in the vase, and is fragrant as well.
Diversity in the Garden Attracts More Beneficial Insects
Last year I let the aphids attack the John Paul and Peace roses on the first bloom. Beneficial insects are attracted to battle-zones, where they lay their eggs on, in, or near the pests. Ideally, beneficial insects will grow up on a diet of pests and stick around for pollen and nectar, repeating the babies' pest-eating cycle, only faster, the next time.
Here are the pollinator plants, as they are called, which support the beneficial insect adults and also attract bees, butterflies, and some hummingbirds:
- Cat Mint looks like lavender and blooms early.
- Mountain Mint has an intense aroma when crushed.
- Monarda blooms purple.
- Spirea is a low growing border plant with many compound flowers.
- Buckwheat is sown throughout, for weed suppression and pollinators.
- Dandelions mine calcium and improve the soil.
- Butterfly Weed hosts the Monarchs.
- Borage provides a constant supply of fllowers and seed, known for increasing the overall numbers of beneficial insects.
- Shasta Daisies are attractive to humans and beneficial insects. As soon as I planted them, in bloom, Tachinid flies were feasting on the flowers. Their eggs hatch into pest-eaters.
Adult tachinids feed on pollen, nectar, and honeydew and are important pollinators. They are very active fliers and are often seen alighting on flowers, fences, rocks, and people. All species of tachinids are parasitoids that use various insects as larval hosts. Most species use caterpillars (cabbage loopers, corn borers, gypsy moths, cutworms, fall armyworms, coddling moth larvae, leaf rollers, bollworms, and many, many others) as hosts while other species parasitize adult and larval beetles, and even various true bugs and sawfly larvae. Tachinids can be generalists that use assorted species as larval hosts or specialists relying on only one species to feed their developing young.
Walliser, Jessica. Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control (Kindle Locations 862-867). Timber Press. Kindle Edition.