Feed the Bees Please

Feed the Bees Please

August can be a lovely month. I was fortunate enough to have a few extra days off over the last weekend and the weather was gorgeous. I spent a bit of time gardening and a lot of time sitting and watching my garden pulse with life. Yet, when I read the news I keep hearing about the devastating consequences of pollinator decline. I know it is happening all over the world, but in my own backyard, you wouldn’t know there was a problem. 
Vervain (Verbena hastata) is a wonderful August blooming perennial.
There are so many things that you can do to feed the bees. First of all, plant a succession of flowers from spring till fall. This week, for example, my vervain (Verbena hastata) is covered with teeny-tiny wasps. Not all pollinators look like a bumblebee. Many are nearly invisible unless you are standing still and really watching. Vervain is a native plant that loves my heavy clay soil. A couple of plants has resulted in at least 6 self-sown freebies, all weaving into my patch of common milkweed and Rudbeckia triloba.  
Do you grow Aster umbellatus? You should! It is one of the easiest summer and fall native flowers to grow. It competes well with Joe Pye weed, Solidagos, even common milkweed. It looks beautiful surrounding tree hydrangeas. They flower at the same time.

Anyone that knows me knows that when I discover a really good plant, I use it in my designs and plant it all over my yard. That is the case with our native Aster umbellatus, shown above. I started noticing this along the side of the road in Vermont. Then I saw it in CT and New York. It blooms for 6 weeks or more. In my own gardens, I weave it in with all kinds of late season flowers. AND, it attracts tons of native bees. It’s a real workhorse, soft and pretty too. 

‘Blue Paradise’ phlox in the evening
The same Phlox in the morning!

Of course, a pollinator garden in August wouldn’t be complete without Phlox paniculata. My favorite is ‘Blue Paradise’. The color can’t be described because it changes from morning till night- various shades of blue, purple, and lilac appear depending on the time of day. I deadhead all of my summer phloxes the instant they stop blooming and they send up more flowers for me. They love a rich soil. Topdressing the plants with compost each spring is the secret. Butterflies and hummingbirds love them too. 

 

 

We have recently restocked our American Beauties benches. This is such a great program. As Doug Tallamy teaches us, native plants support native pollinators. This organization chooses superior native varieties and makes them readily available to the public. AND, they are grown sustainably so they are totally safe for butterflies, bees, and other creatures. 

Speaking of butterflies, we are so over the top with monarch chrysalises right now that we are just about out of room! I am going to be on All Things Considered on CT Public Radio, channel 8 WTNH television, and at the Pardee-Morris house in New Haven this week- I am taking our monarchs on the road! We are also bringing the butterflies to the Durham Farmer’s Market again this week. The details can be found in the events listings below. 
Gorgeous Asclepias incarnata  spp. pulchra fills our benches and is COVERED with monarch butterflies.
In order to support our monarchs, we need to grow and harvest lots of common milkweed and other forms of Asclepias. We are also teaching and helping many others raise monarchs as well. We are keeping our benches stocked with all different species and we will help match you with the type that suits the size of your yard and your growing conditions.  
We don’t bring the big caterpillars inside to raise them, just the eggs and the newborns. We grow lots and lots of monarchs outside in our gardens as well. You can too. Remember, no poisons, no sprays. Monarchs need a clean yard. We do too!
This Sunday, we are also offering a brand new workshop:Toad Abode. I am very excited about this as I was in the audience at the CT Flower and Garden Show last winter when Mike McGrath explained that toads eat tons and tons of bad bugs in your garden. His advice was to place Toad Abodes in all of your veggie beds and let them go to work. Class size is limited- you can find the registration information below. 

 

We still have a great selection of organically grown fall veggie seedlings in

Happy escarole seedlings will provide us with great autumn soups.

stock. NOW is prime time to get them in the ground. No room? Grab a Smart Pot (they’re on sale) and fill it with organic potting soil and plop it in a sunny spot. I put in cucumber and squash seeds and they sprouted in 3 days. My carrot seeds sprouted in a week. My escarole plants doubled in size and are growing in the shade of my magic evening primroses and raspberries. Lettuce likes a bit of summer shade as well. 

 

It’s tomato time! I am thrilled at my abundant harvest this year. I did major pruning on my plants in June. I believe removing all of the bottom leaves helped tremendously, as did open pruning and staking. We would LOVE to know which tomato varieties you are loving this year and which ones you aren’t as wild about. Believe it or not, Natureworks begins planning what we are going to grow for 2020 in early fall. I am in love with Honey Gold cherry tomatoes- this is my first year growing this sweet treat. Drop us an email and let us know your thoughts. We want to grow what YOU want us to carry…

Cestrum nocturnum on my deck

Over the weekend, I pulled out my potting caddy, threw a big bag of Organic Mechanics potting soil in my wheelbarrow, and began working on repotting many of my houseplants which are “summering” on my deck. The star of the show right now is Cestrum nocturnum, a night blooming tropical shrub that has clusters of creamy blossoms that open at dusk and emit an intoxicating fragrance. I have overwintered this plant indoors for the past 4 years. I feed and water it all summer (I just topdressed it with compost and Pro Gro), then I prune it back hard before bringing it indoors in late October. We have a couple of these beauties in our greenhouse. It’s a great time of year to invest in new houseplants. 

Got thyme? We do!

Another thing to think about right now is how you can add more groundcovers to your gardens. If you have been spending a lot of time this summer weeding and mulching, THINK GROUNDCOVERS instead! By adding this layer to your plantings, you will reduce maintenance and dramatically increase the pollinator power of your landscape. Diane spent a ton of time last week restocking and revamping our groundcover department. We are getting even more new varieties in this week. Let us help match you up with groundcovers for your specific situation- shady, sunny, sandy, sloped, under trees, edging a walkway… you name it, we have a groundcover for that!

Beautiful flowering Sedum groundcovers laugh at the summer heat.

Tune in this Thursday afternoon at 4 pm for Facebook Live. I will be talking about my very favorite late summer perennials with a focus on plants that FEED THE BEES and the HUMMINGBIRDS. Anemones, asters, perennial lobelias, Phystostegia, and Eupatoriums top the list of perennials. Vitex and butterfly bushes top the list of flowering shrubs.  

Count the bees on this Vitex shrub growing in our gardens. We also sell a pretty pink variety. Both do great in the heat of the summer and attract pollinators galore.

With all this rain and warm weather, ticks and mosquitoes are going to be on the rebound. We are thrilled to have gotten a great deal when we ordered our favorite cedar oil spray.

We have a GREAT deal on the refill bottles for our cedar spray. 

 This is what all of my landscape crew members use when they are working. They come in a convenient, small spray bottle BUT we just got a great deal on the large refill bottles which we are selling for $24.99 until they are gone. This spray really works. 

 
I hope you are enjoying your summer gardens. With Labor Day a few weeks away, be sure to stop in and pick up some fresh color to tune up your containers and gardens. We not only have new perennials coming in this week, we have fresh crops of colorful annuals, basil and other herbs, and native ornamental grasses. 

 

Make time to come in for a visit and bring your friends to see the Monarchs. See you soon…
 
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P.S.  IT’S TIME FOR SALES!!! We don’t have many sales but when we do, they are GOOD ONES! 
Besides our ever-growing 1/2 off sale bench……
Other sales include- 30% off Nepetas, Buddleias, Hydrangeas, Astilbes, Elderberries, Blueberries and more! 
50% off Roses, Irises, Daylilies, and much more! (FYI-a few tidbits from our 50% off bench are a few Oak trees, Delphiniums, Spring wildflowers and so much more!)
The sale has been EXTENDED until Wednesday 8/21!!! In stock plants only.